Sunday, July 15, 2012

GBBD: Survival of the Fittest

On this July Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I am praying for rain.  A break in the heat would be nice, too, although we've cooled down a bit from last week's unbearable temperatures to more "typical" highs in the 90's (32 C).  But I'll put up with the heat if only some rain would fall.  Our area is now classified as being in a severe drought; by contrast, northern Illinois is only in a moderate drought.  However, the southern part of the state and parts of Indiana (Carol and Lisa, I'm praying for rain for you, too) is under an extreme drought and approaching the worst level, exceptional drought.  Isolated thunderstorms are in the forecast for today--translation: I'll be lucky if we get a few sprinkles.  According to meteorologists, though, a brief shower may bring temporary relief, but what is needed are several concurrent days of steady rainfall.

The garden has gone into survival mode.  The stressful conditions are showing what's tough, and what isn't.  If nothing else, this awful summer is giving a lesson on planting a low-maintenance garden--plants that don't require constant coddling to keep them alive.

At the top of this Darwinian survival scale are the natives, of course.  The purple coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, are looking a bit ratty, and some even are wilting.

But another native, the bumblebees, don't seem to mind their appearance.

Rudbeckias are also unfazed by the lack of rain and have even bloomed earlier than usual.  This is a volunteer in the lily garden, and I have no idea what type it is--it's taller with a more pronounced central cone than the other Rudbeckias growing in the butterfly garden.  Other natives in bloom include the asters, which are blooming way ahead of schedule, and Joe Pye Weed, which is just opening up.

There are other tough plants besides the natives, of course.  Russian Sage looked terrible after the April freeze, but has come back from its injuries to full strength.  I'm not sure I could kill this plant, if I tried:)

I can always count on Cleome, too, to come back every year in unexpected places, usually somewhere where it will block the view of shorter plants behind it.

Daylilies have also surprised me with their resiliency, though some of the foliage has yellowed already.  This NOID Hemeorcallis--in front of a NOID phlox--is also a DIPT (Did I Plant This??).

Another NOID is no longer blooming, but at least it's no longer a DIPT--friend Beckie reminded me when she saw it that she had given me a few different lily divisions, including this one.  It's one thing to forget from year to year what I planted, but forgetting something planted just two months ago is a bit worrisome.

No forgetting this one--'Dragonfly Corner,' another division from Beckie, has produced numerous blooms.

Planted the same year, 'Prairie Sunrise' hasn't been as prolific this year, though it's still one of my favorite colors.

'Little Grapette' is nearing the end of its bloom time, but has produced numerous blooms for nearly a month. For once, I planned well--this lily is in the front of the lily bed, perfect for its shorter stature.

'Tangerine Orange Ruffle' is another favorite.  This bloom was actually from last week, but I thought it deserved a little recognition, too.

'Nettie's Rubies,' named after my aunt who gave them to me, have done well as always.  They're much darker than this full-sun photo shows, however.

'Romeo Lies Bleeding' has also done well this year, adding several inches in height, perhaps to catch up to his companion . . .

. . . 'Juliet.'

While some daylilies have already finished blooming, the Orientals are just beginning.  The 'Stargazer' has several blooms, but I'm most happy about this 'Casablanca.'  You can't see the brown foliage below it, but it was hit especially hard by the late freeze, and I didn't expect it to bloom at all this year.

Finally, another lily that I'm so excited about--my very first Blackberry Lily, Belamcanda Chinensis! Its blooms may be tiny compared to the other showier lilies, but considering I have tried unsuccessfully for several years to grow these from seed, I am thrilled that a couple have finally made an appearance this year.

The shade garden, which normally is pretty low-maintenance, has required constant watering this season.  Even though many of the hostas are blooming right now, like my 'Sum and Substance,' some of them have yellowed leaves, despite the frequent waterings.

Definitely not in the category of tough survivors, the Hydrangea macrophyllas like 'Let's Dance in the Moonlight' above and the 'Endless Summers' have been covered in blooms, only because I have been careful to water them at the first sign of wilting leaves.

The paniculatas, I've decided, however, are a much stronger species and can tough it out through hard times. I noticed today the first blooms beginning on the 'Limelight' and the younger 'Vanilla Strawberry' (above).

Although I spend a lot of time watering containers and annuals every summer, this year I've really had to watch perennials and some of the newer shrubs as well.  A few shrubs, like the viburnum and the fothergilla, went from looking fine one day to crispy leaves the next, it seemed.  I can only hope that I caught them in time and that they will recover.  One shrub, though, that has shown it's a survivor is this Purple Smokebush.  It had just started to bloom in April when the freeze hit, and it looked absolutely pathetic for about a month.  As you can see, though, it has recovered fully; I think it has even doubled in size since last year.  This is definitely a keeper!

Over the last few months I've lost more annuals than I care to count, and some of my containers look pretty pitiful already.  But again, there are some annuals that can withstand the heat better than others.  Lantana is one, and zinnias are another.  The zinnias are just beginning to bloom in the arbor bed, where many perennials are beginning to fade.

A new zinnia is just beginning to bloom--we grew this 'Zowie! Yellow Flame'  zinnia in the MG Idea Garden last year, and I knew I had to add it to my own garden this year.  I think its hot, hot colors are perfect for this summer.

Despite all my complaining about the weather, there is quite a lot blooming in my garden this July besides what is pictured here.  But it has definitely been a trying summer, and I am thankful for these tough survivors who have soldiered on without a lot of attention from me.  To see what else is blooming all over, be sure to visit our hostess who is also doing a rain dance, Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

UPDATE:  I wrote this yesterday morning but waited to post it till today.  I'm happy to report that yesterday afternoon rain finally fell in our area. Wonderful, glorious rain that the ground greedily soaked up--nearly 2 inches!  I hate to sound greedy, but we sure could use a couple more days of these showers.


  1. Your blooms are uplifting to see Rose. I am so glad you got some much needed rain too. We got 1/2", better than nothing. I even saw some ironweed blooming yesterday. Way early for that. Things are in overdrive to try to finish their life cycle before the end. Farmers around here are brushogging their fields. SAD. SCARY. Our county is declared a disaster area. Thanks for the link love. Happy GBBD.

  2. Rose, so happy to see that you've gotten rain. You have a lot in bloom, despite the drought -- a testament to the nurturing environment you've created there. I, too, have been prone to inertia with all the heat and have not been inclined to blog or garden. Your pairing of the 'Juliet' and 'Romeo Lies Bleeding' daylily photos made me smile. The breeders do come up with some unusual names at times!

  3. I love the title of this post. So true.

    I must not have a good rudbeckia, because mine needs constant watering --in fact, in a bed I don't keep up, it's simply died.

    DIPT :-)

    I see some daylilies in your photos I'm going to have to look for! Juliet is especially beautiful.

    That is a gorgeous zinnia! We have some blooming now too, in Emma's strawberry bed. It's nice to have the color.

    I'm glad you got some rain. We did get between 1/4 and 1/2 inch two days ago, but there isn't any more in the forecast, so I guess I'll be dragging those sprinklers around again.

  4. Wonderful news about the rain ... may it be the first shower of many! You've got a lot of beautiful blooms despite the weather. I feel for you ... "exceptional" is not a good thing to be when it comes to drought!

  5. You have a lovely garden despite the drought. We have drought conditions, also, and I'm watering just to keep plants alive.

  6. Rose your borders are really looking swell especially the zinnias and the daylilies. I hope you get many more days with rain. I know we over here in the UK have done nothing but complain about it - but there's nothing worse than being in a drought. As you say a happy medium would be great and back to the summers we used to have.

  7. Dear Rose,

    Your garden looks a picture. It is amazing how it has survived so well with the extreme heat.
    No doubt, you and your hosepipe have made a huge difference.
    I am pleased to read that at last rain has arrived in your area. It is such a relief isn't it?

    We were in extreme drought in the Spring. When the rains started 12 weeks ago, we rarely had a completely dry day. I have to say it has been dreadful, it has felt like winter here at times :(
    Today has been sunny, and it has been wonderful.....I am hoping this is a turning point and summer can begin.

    Lovely to see your flowers Rose, especially the Susans (I lost everyone of mine)......

  8. Lisa, The rain yesterday was wonderful, but I'd like to see even more of it. When I checked out the U.S. drought map, I saw that your area and around Indy are so much worse off than we are--I'll stop complaining now. Farmers mowing down their fields sounds awful.

    DJ, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has become lazy, er..unmotivated, during this heat. 'Juliet' is actually an unnamed hybrid I bought from a daylily breeder. After buying 'Romeo,' I thought that was the perfect name for this delicate beauty:)

    Cassi, I have to give credit to someone else for the "DIPT" acronym, except I can't remember who came up with it:) Zinnias are one of my favorite annuals; so easy to grow!

    Cindy, I do hope you're right that more rain is on the way, but it doesn't look good. I shouldn't whine so much, though, because I know other places have it worse, and I know you understand what real drought is.

    Katie, Thank you, and yes, I'm just trying to keep everything alive here, too.

    Rosie, It seems we are both suffering from an extreme; let's hope this fall is much better!

    Cheryl, I do hope summer has finally arrived for you, too. I don't think I could stand day after day of gloomy skies either. I have some different volunteer Susans this year; I'm thinking the birds have been busy scattering seeds for me:)

  9. Despite the heat and drought your garden is looking better than mine, but you're right, the butterflies and the bees don't seem to notice, do they?

    Enjoy your Sunday!

  10. I'm so glad you got some rain! Yesterday we had some fantastic showers for about half the day...just what we needed! But like you, I want another few days of that at the very least!

  11. I'm so glad to see you keep your hosta blooms on. I do too but so many people cut them off because they think they are unsightly. Some are even extremely fragrant!

  12. I love blackberry lily. Your photos are so enticing.

  13. Glad you got some rain Rose - 2 inches is great! We had a couple of the soakers a couple weeks ago and they really helped.

    In spite of the heat and drought, you have some beautiful survivors. Congratulations on the Blackberry lilies! They're very sweet. Love those ruffled 'Romeo Lies Bleeding' daylilies.

    Casa Blanca is my favorite lily. They gave up the ghost here after being chewed down by the bunnies one too many springs. If I want lilies here, they have to be caged.

  14. Your garden is amazing and I am hoping for more rain for you. We are in a drought here in upstate NY just 10 months after being flooded. The weather has been so extreme everywhere. Your post was lily heaven. I will be tweeting this. Happy GBBD!

  15. Hi Rose,
    I enjoyed seeing your tough blooms, and the ones you've helped get by. I only have one hydrangea, 'Pia'. It did not bloom this year, but it looks like it will survive the summer. Your daylilies look much better than mine.

    Yes, we love our cleomes. I didn't get a good photo of my blackberry lilies, but there are more than what I originally planted, because they have sown themselves around.

    That's a nice looking purple smokebush. There was a very tall clump across the street when the owner of the place lived there. When there were renters, a bunch of little trees and other weeds grew in there. When they moved, the landlord cut everything down. He asked me if I wanted to garden in the back, and said I could also plant flowers in the area the smokebush had been. When I saw it peeking up a few inches, I told him about it, and he asked me to let it grow. After 3 or 4 years, it looks to be almost as big as yours, I'm thinking, about 4 feet. I should do a post about it.

    I'm glad you got that rain. After a few days of 80s, we are back to the upper 90s. In fact, it is currently 96, and the biggest chance of rain in the next week is 30%.

  16. Your drought is much worse than ours, but I do know how you feel. We finally got over an inch of rain very nice. I am glad you got some rain, and I hope you get more.

  17. So glad you've gotten some rain! We've been lucky to get a fair amount of rain this past week. It's too late to save some of the less hardy bushes and plants that died during the record heat, but the tougher surviving plants are sure enjoying it.

    I love all your lilies - so pretty!

  18. I just bought a Russian sage plant at our local farmers' market, though I don't yet know where I'll put it. I always admire them when I see them, and yours is beautiful.

    The cleome that re-seeds itself does tend to come up in the most inconvenient places, doesn't it! I hate to move it though, because those are the most vigorous plants!

    I absolutely love that zinnia!

    Hope you get more rain!

  19. Dear Rose: I'm glad to hear you got some rain! Still nothing much here, but 0.02 inches helped me to see that someday, will rain again. Your Lilies are beautiful! And that Zinnia--wow! Love it!

  20. I'm so glad you got some rain. That is good news. We finally had rain last week also. The flowers loved it. One just can't water the flower gardens and have the same outcome as one has after a good rain.

    I planted a Russian sage about eight or nine years ago, and then regretted it. It sends out babies all over the place, and it get so big. I did get rid of it. Rather, I should say my husband got rid of it, but it took a shovel, an ax, and a lot of weed killer.

  21. Wow, look at all those lilies! The cleome is spectacular too. I tried growing some from seed last year but it really didn't want to grow for me. This year I think I'll just sprinkle it in the garden and let it think it's sown itself - maybe that will trick it into coming up!

  22. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one having issues with shrubs. The same thing is happening in my garden. I know I've lost a few trees too. On a good note the smoke trees. I once moved mine and the roots were like 6' long so no wonder it is drought tolerant. They are excellent shrubs. I am visiting my husband in Peoria and I am loving your state. I did notice lots of burned up cornfields on my way up and it is sad. But, as I was sitting in the casino (a must!) I watched a ton of birds eating amongst the Russian sage and thought that was the coolest. Have you seen that in your sage? I couldn't see what kind of birds but I suspect some type of finch. Russian sage is so pretty this time of the year. Your daylilies look happy too! I love the black soil up here too.

  23. I wonder if your mystery Rudbeckia isn't a Rudbeckia at all but a Ratibida pinnata, which I prefer. I think I have the same NOID yellow Hemerocallis, big, thick substanced blooms on strong scapes? I see the blooms of your 'Little Grapette' are also faded from the heat. At least they're blooming.
    You know I'm not fond of orange, but I'd make an exception for that Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame'. Paired with dark foliaged plants like your lovely smokebush would make a swoon-worthy scene.
    I must quibble - my part of Northern Illinois is in either a severe or extreme drought (I think the extreme starts just north and west of me). Squirrelhaven missed out on the spectacular storms that swept the western and southern suburbs a couple weeks ago. So my garden is suffering right along with yours. Praying for rain is definitely the thing to do.

  24. Beautiful flowers Rose, amazing that any have survived at all in those temps. If only we could swap gardens for a while, mine is like a swamp!

  25. I am pleased you've got the rain where you were waiting for. I am supprised to see how many plants survived the long long period of heath. Your garden looks beautiful Rose. Never saw the zinia in this color before.
    Have a great evening Rose.

  26. Most daylilies are tough as nails. That red one sure looks like my 'Ruby Spider.' Try and see if that isn't it. Thank goodness for stalwarts like crapemyrtles, zinnias, sunflowers, Joe-Pye weed, Russian sage, etc., which carry our gardens and help the pollinators. Happy Bloom Day Rose. I'm praying for rain for us all.~~Dee

  27. I'm so glad you have had some relief at last Rose although I'm sure much more rain would be welcome, if only I could send some of ours. We had the odd hour of sunshine on Sunday but yesterday it rained all day...again :-( Conservationists here are saying the effect of the weather on our wildlife this year is 'almost apocalyptic'!!

    All your blooms look so colourful and cheerful, a testament to your love and hard work I am sure. You have such a wonderful collection of lilies, I always enjoy seeing them. Another of your plants I look forward to seeing each year is Hydrangea 'Let's Dance in the Moonlight' although I confess it is as much for the gorgeously romantic name as the flower itself ;-) A lovely Zinnia to finish with!

    Wishing you more rain to sustain those lovely flowers Rose :-)

  28. Rose girl !
    My god you made me laugh .. I can just picture you huddled in some cool corner of the basement .. maybe stretched out on a cot or lawn chaise? .. YES .. eastern Ontario has always been hot and humid .. but this is one of the worst summers yet .. we haven't had rain in almost 2 months if not more .. we are all turning brown and not in a nice way !!
    I love all your lilies .. I did a border planting around the raised border of my front garden .. one side Little Grapette and the other side Pardon Me .. so deep reds are the name of my game plan for now.
    I am waiting for my Casa Blanca to open .. I have babied some areas of my borders, with watering .. I can't let my roses bit the dust or my sweet new little hydrangea .. I have 3 "Little Lime" and I adore them !! do you have any of them ?I highly recommend them : )
    Thanks for coming over to my place and making me smile BIG time girl !

  29. Your photos are so lovely.
    I can't grow Day Lilies since the Lily Beetle came over here from the Continent. They devoured the lot and left just a sticky mess.
    Its a wonder that all our plants haven't rotted in the wet weather, but then of course, some have.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  30. You are very welcome to have some of our rain, rose!

    Such beautiful blooms especially all those lovely lilies.

    Your garden is a delight.

  31. Yes we're all on life support but you can make a mid-summer garden look better off with the camera, don't you thin so? This is the year when even established shrubs need some TLC. Can Labor Day be the start of Fall/ In our dream's right?

  32. Your gardens look lush and full! Love those hard working native plants, they are a great mainstay. My Russian sage is really leggy. It might not be getting enough sun....though I really hate to have to move them.
    Wish we lived closer! We have so many similar plants. (great minds thinking alike!)

  33. Thanks for all your comments, everyone. I've been away from the computer quite a bit lately due to the heat--and the fact my office isn't air-conditioned at the moment. So I apologize for not replying to all of you personally; I appreciate all the kind words and helpful tips. I am thankful for all that has survived and is thriving in my garden in spite of this awful summer.


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