Thursday, July 31, 2008

Late Bloom-er

So I started this posting more than a week ago, stepped outside to take a few more pictures, saw about twelve things that needed doing and did some of them, decided I wanted to write something on whimsy, read about fifty wonderful postings, and actually did a (very) little bit of work. Then as I was deadheading Shasta daisies this morning, I remembered this draft languishing--so, a little bit on my white garden while I wait for the bluebirds to move out of the front yard.

On July 16th, almost every blog I follow had a posting about "Bloom Day." Somehow I had missed May Dreams Gardens (how, I don't know, Salix probably distracted me)--and if there's anyone reading this who hasn't visited May Dreams, you best do so--or else in August you're going to feel like you missed a (most important) memo. Short version: on the 15th of each month, garden bloggers post about what's blooming in their gardens. It's a great idea--as individuals, we have records of what blooms when; as collaborators, we get wonderful lists of plants to add; and as researchers, we learn what blooms where when.

So I missed July's Bloom Day, which in my garden is kind of a transitional period--lots of stuff fading, lots of stuff starting, a few things reblooming. Here's my white phlox opening, with a bee to help it along.

I've been nursing this phlox for a couple of years--since we moved it last summer, it's starting to thrive--and I really hope it proves to be as prolific here as it is in other gardens I've read about. Here's more phlox behind and above some Shasta daisy.

Side note on Latin names (once again, see May Dreams Gardens)--I love Latin names, but I'm not always sure what I have. Some plants I received from friends, others I transplanted from my old house, still others hid their tags just to be mischievous. And occasionally I realize that if I take the time to try to find the tags (which might be in one of my old notebooks or in ground with the plant or somewhere in the back of my seven-year-old car), I'll never ever finish this posting. So sometimes I just use the name I'm sure of. Once again, this blog is going to be very important to my self-improvement goals.

My white garden is the most mature and most successful of my beds. I love to look out from our deck at night and see the white flowers glowing. I'm a very amateur photographer, in case that isn't patently obvious, so I haven't been able to capture any good shots at night. But at dusk or under a full moon, the white garden glows.

As anyone who's ever painted a room knows, "white" covers a lot of colors--some whites are super bright, like these gaura and impatiens.

Other whites tend to yellow or pink or lavender, and I try to group the tones a bit: for example, one corner contains a lot of pink tones, as in this calla lily next to the brighter white butterly bush.

Below is a wider shot of the same corner in late May (the picture from my blog layout: the pink tones include penstemon, oenethera, and a rose bush (tag long gone) whose buds have a pink tinge.

To attract bees and other beneficial insects, many white bloomers compensate for their lack of color with intense fragrance. The flower by the arch in the upper right hand corner of the May photo is valerian (I know this one: valeriana officinalis)--in the spring, this one plant fills the entire garden with a wonderful vanilla scent. Unfortunately, deer like the scent, too--or the taste--or maybe it's the fact that valerian is an herbal sleep inducer and the deer suffer from insomnia. Anyway, this is one the few herbs that the deer and I fight about. I hope they sleep soundly.

The butterflies certainly love the smell of the white butterfly bushes.

Here are two views of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying a white blossom--

And what I think is a viceroy (I have trouble distinguishing them from monarchs).

The butterly bushes are the main source of fragrance in this garden now--it's otherwise dominated by daisies, coneflower, and gaura. In a few weeks, the chrysanthemum and aster will start to bloom, and I hope a sweet autumn clematis, another very fragrant white flower (the deer got it about a week ago, but I think it should come back).

Some of the white in the garden comes from foliage--variegated Solomon's Seal, ivies, Hosta--one of my favorites is the Lamium maculatum "Alba" spilling out into the paths:

This does have a white flower, and its flowers are just starting to open. But I use it to brighten a shady part of the garden, so it doesn't flower prolifically--its main impact is in its variegation.

A lot of the variegation in the garden right now comes from Hosta. I hear from other gardeners that Hosta does better farther north--it certainly doesn't tolerate sun very well where we are. I haven't had much luck with the big architectural ones like "Royal Standard." And my Impossible Dream is to get Hosta plantaginea flourishing in the white garden--it bears a true white and very fragrant flower--but I've never had one last more than a season. I do okay, however, with some of the smaller variegated cultivars. This one was just called Hosta "Wide Brim" on the tag:

And this one is called Hosta "Whirlaway"; although it doesn't have much white in its variegation, the light yellow catches the morning sun and shines against the bright green:

I'm pretty sure this one is Hosta fortunei "Aurea Marginata"--I've had it for years and of course can't find the tag. But it's found its spot and established itself quite well (in partial shade, next to a holly bush), and its contribution to the white garden comes much more from the foliage than from the (lavender colored) flower.

You may see glimpses of the deer cages in these photos. Our deer (white tails) love hosta more than any other plant in the garden, so I suppose it's just as well that the larger hosta don't achieve their structural magnificence in our heat. The cage would probably spoil the effect.

The white garden isn't just white (and green). Sometimes plants don't run true (volunteer mums and gaura have reverted to pinks and yellows), and sometimes I just screw up (this spring I had two dark purple bearded iris in among the whites and lavenders--but I liked the effect so I left them there). And too much green and white gets monotonous (well, I suppose it wouldn't be monotonous, right? bi-tonous? duo-tonous?) Anyway, I like to mix in color via other foliage. I have an almost mahogany ninebark shrub as a kind of backdrop, and I've interspersed various shades of dark red Heuchera ("Palace Purple," "Prince," "Obsidian") against lime greens or grays or even bright greens.

The photo above is from early June, and shows the Heuchera "Obsidian" between the gray rose campion and the brighter greens of sweet woodruff, Shasta daisy, and chrysanthemum. In this next one, "Palace Purple" is offset by the Lamium on one side and sweet woodruff on the other; there's also some green Heuchera "Vanilla Spice" just beyond the sweet woodruff (another wonderfully fragrant white flower, by the way).

And here, moving into deeper shade, I've nestled some of the Garden Curmudgeon's foam flower under Heuchera "Prince." All of these have white flowers, but I like them best for the contrasts in color they provide.

And speaking of color, I finally caught a shot of my camera-shy visitor in the front yard.

I had to use the digital zoom shooting through a window. I'm using Salix's Nikon Coolpix L3, which is small and great for trips and can take pretty good pictures when I'm careful. But it's my birthday this week, and I think I want something with a better zoom. Any recommendations?

In the meantime, out of deference to the bluebirds, I'm working mostly in the back--and getting ready for bloom day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


As I found out from Dirt Therapy (I love that name, would be the best self-help book ever written), Gardening Gone Wild has designated July whimsy month: ok, it's July 23rd and the design workshop project is due to change, but for me, getting my project in 7 days before the absolute deadline is almost like getting it in early. GGW equates whimsy with humor and a little bit of humility, an idea I like, especially as it applies to those gardeners among us who are hobbyists and especially especially as it applies to those of us with, umm, planning issues. Because whimsy also suggests capriciousness, which sounds like a bad thing--it's the way people with Dayrunners (like Salix) occasionally think of people who use their Dayrunners as a source of scratch paper when they need to jot down a note that they will tear out and then probably lose anyway (that would be me). That's one of the reasons I started this blog--I know where my entries are. Is there a blog called "Blog Therapy"?

But ironically enough, the whimsy in my garden is not of my doing--it comes from Salix, the Garden Curmudgeon, and nature itself. Here's the most notably "whimsical" element, a gift of an ice storm in the late 90's (before we moved in):

This bent tree looms about 30 feet over my white garden (its roots are directly behind my white arch), and my little camera doesn't capture its full impact. But it's bent at maybe a 60-degree angle (the result of weeks of ice on its branches), and a more aesthetically-minded gardener might have taken it down. But Salix and I are somewhat reluctant to take down trees, especially the trees that survived Hurricane Isabel, and, well, this one looks like a horse. And we love horses. And so it stays and watches over us and the gardens.

Of course, horses are herd animals, and Salix thought our horse tree needed company.

Salix's whimsy is inevitably practical--this horse is also a weathervane (of course, we have trees to tell us which way the wind is blowing, but I suppose it never hurts to have a second opinion). There is, by the way, no wind blowing today--this horse probably hasn't moved since the weekend--but we're hoping for a blow out tonight and the lovely rain that comes with it.

Salix likes color--this is one of his first contributions, now a guardian against deer in the tropical garden:

This bunch of achillea millefolium escaped from our garden crane's "wings." The deer fear him, and he stakes the floppy yarrow--he's no Ranunculus, but he does protect his little bit of turf.
Another bit of whimsy from the Curmudgeon and Co., one of my favorite things:

It's called "Crown of Thorns"--euphorbia milii splendens. I've had it for almost ten years--it was about 6" tall when GC&C first gave it to me. It's tender, so I have to drag it in every September, but it never seems to mind the shift indoors. The little teacup in the plant was another present from Salix. A thunderstorm knocked some deck furniture on top of the plant--it survived with only one bent stem, but the teacup broke. The plant is poisonous, by the way, though I would think that the thorns would keep any animal from trying to taste it (Ranunculus won't go within five feet of it).

So whimsical as I am by nature, most of the whimsical things in the garden are gifts, all the more precious to me because they are. The whimsy I'm responsible for is in the house--though even here, friends make their presence known. The gardener on my refrigerator is a throwback to Colorforms (remember those?) and the lovely couple next to her was a wedding present:

Sorry about the flash. I'm getting a new camera for my birthday. My friend Lisa, by the way, says blogging is a gateway drug--next thing you know, it's a better camera, photography classes, an MFA program . . .

Tomorrow, something on the Bloom Day I missed. The next one's noted in my Dayrunner.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prayers and Thoughts: Two Links

Today's posting will be short--I'll suspend my usual silliness in light of some sad news and the power of a wonderful writer's prose.

I think everyone who reads this blog has probably already read about the tragedies that struck Chanticleer Gardens, but just in case you haven't, Gardening Gone Wild has asked gardeners to send condolences to the families and friends of the two young men who died--you can follow this link for more information and the appropriate comments page.

And here is a beautiful piece that Salix found, strangely enough in the Wall Street Journal, called "Back to the Garden."


Monday, July 14, 2008

Before the rain

The forecast for Monday morning was for scattered showers, which translated into a slow drizzle all day long. Not many people's ideal weather--but it is for gardeners. Let me count the ways: 1) I live in Virginia, and on an average summer day, I get up at dawn so I can get in a couple of hours before the heat & bugs drive me inside at 8 a.m., maybe 9 if the bugs have been out late the night before. Drizzly days tend to cool things down into the 80's, and the bugs get all wet and heavy and can't fly up and bite me (that has not been proven scientifically, but I believe it to be the case). 2) Despite the fact that drizzly days are humid, you only notice the humidity until the drizzle starts, at which point you get a much needed shower without actually having to go inside. 3) Drizzle is good for plants, which is why British gardeners have an unfair advantage, not that there's a contest, but they do seem to write WAY more gardening books per capita, no? and don't get me started on what they call things . . . well, that will be a different post (mostly kidding--I'm an Englishgardenphile).

It turned into a day of little surprises. This first one has nothing to do with the rest of the post--I walked outside, a cup of coffee short of competence, and found what I at first thought was mold on the lilac by the back deck:

I'm not very good at identifying fauna yet--I have books on plants and birds of Virginia, but not on other animals. So I don't know what kind of frog this is, or whether it's a baby frog (I know about tadpoles, but I figure there's some point at which a baby frog is smaller than its parents) or a very small grownup frog. But it's precious--another joy of gardening.

And so I finished my coffee and admired the frog, and then Salix informed me (because he watches the news, someone in the household has to) that it was going to rain all day. So I said to Ranunculus, "back to the front garden before the rain starts!," and Ranunculus said, "Raoul." We still don't know who Raoul is--we adopted Ranunculus at 9 months not knowing anything about his past--but he mentions Raoul often. Assuming Ranunculus's comment was a non-sequitur, I grabbed my kit--two shovels (one flat, one for transplanting), a wheelbarrow, a little rake, a weeder, a soil scoop, and bags of peat moss, top soil, and humus--and headed to the front.

When we bought the house, the previous owner had put his vegetable garden in the front yard and set up a deer fence around it. The front yard was divided, just outside the front door, by a split-rail fence supported by 4x4's, along which an electrified wire ran. We want to open up the yard, but the 4x4 supports for the former fence still bisect the area in front of the house.

Beyond the vegetable garden, the fence ended but the electrified wire continued, forming a barrier about 30 yards out around most of the house. We didn't love the deer fence. Although it provided my at-the-time-teen-aged son and his friends inexplicable entertainment, it didn't deter the deer much, and since it was hell on my big dogs, we shut it down quickly. (It did come to our rescue during the hurricane--our insurance company, who grew tenfold in my estimation that day, declared the electric wire to be a fence, and thus paid us for every tree that knocked down a piece of wire. I'm not always a fan of big business, but in this case, the human element came through, which gave us the cash to have the huge fallen trees taken out of the yard). But the wire that carries the charge from the house to the deer fence is buried beneath two 4x4's by the front porch, which presents a problem in the front yard--Salix doesn't want to damage the wiring system (in the event that future residents want the deer fence, perhaps as their bulwark against hurricane damage, since the deer just jump over/duck under it). Respecting the wishes of Salix, we're left with two approximately 4' high pieces of 4x4 sticking up where a fence used to be, right outside the front door. Here's Ranunculus between the 2 posts in question--I'm working on the one to the right of the picture.

Another surprise (and another digression): Ranunculus, who frequently teaches himself new tricks, has taught himself to have his picture taken. Best as I can figure, this is what has happened. Whenever he has to sit or stay for no apparent reason (like, no one's just walked in the front door or no animal he might chase is in sight), he knows he's doing a trick and so he expects a treat. Ranunculus has to this point been camera shy, so we've had to make him sit or stay if we wanted a picture--and then he'd get a treat. With all the pictures I've been taking since I started this blog, I think Ranunculus has figured out "she's got that little silver thing again--TREAT!" So he has now started inserting himself in photos voluntarily--one might say aggressively--and then, once he hears "whirr, click," he's pawing at the door asking for his reward. Here he is again as I tried to take a photo from the other side of the posts--he might be posing.

Anyway, I hope that behind Ranunculus-looking-philosophical you can see a further complication to our opening up the yard--when there was a fence, we planted along it. Assuming in the early days that we'd always have the fence, I planted baptisia as a background plant--I'm pretty sure mine is baptisia australis; I picked it up at the Virginia Living Museum native plant sale years ago. It never did well at my former house, but I transplanted it here (a huge gamble with baptisia, which roots deeply and firmly and really resents being moved), and after an awful first year, it came into its own. And I'm not moving it again, even if it is now in the middle of what I envision as an open space. Fortunately for my marriage, it's right next to one of the 4x4's that Salix wants left as is.

So here's my idea--the kind of idea that makes the Garden Curmudgeon roll his eyes and that will probably end up some day soon on the wrong side of his "Do's and Don'ts" page--I'm going to plant a little island around each of the posts (the GC would say, take the post and wiring out and do this right--and that's sound advice--but I often don't heed sound advice, and Salix wants to leave the electrical set up intact). And this little spot has potential--there are among the baptisia little volunteers from the perennial bed we moved last year: purple coneflower, coreopsis "Moonbeam," a little bit of achillea millefolium, and some crocosmia. I also needed to plant a small barberry volunteer that I potted up in late spring because it was dying where it was (don't know if it's going to make it, but there are other barberry shrubs thriving adjacent to it), and I had to transplant a little crepe myrtle that was overrun by other plants and wasn't getting enough sun. As other bloggers have pointed out, mid-July is not an ideal time to plant. But the weather is going to be cooler for a few days, it was drizzling (a.k.a. all day gentle watering), and the summer is the only time I have to do these more complicated projects. So Ranunculus and I went to work.

The area was very weedy--it's been untended for almost a year--and typically in preparing a bed I would scrape the top 3" or so of grass and use it to fill in holes from the hurricane. But among the weeds here I found lots of little surpises: mostly baby coneflower and baptisia.

Most of the baptisia will stay where it is. But it can be moved when it's this small (though even at this size the root is surprising)--I use a daffodil planter to take up the plant with root intact, and if I want to give it to a friend, I put it in a peat pot so they can rip off the bottom and just stick the whole thing in the ground. The plant also grows well from the lovely seed pods that form this time of year:

And so I hand weeded everywhere except where I was planting the crepe myrtle and the barberry. For those, I dug a nice deep hole, about 3x the breadth of the plant and depth of the root ball. I dig until I hit the really hard clay, and then I get my digging stick and break up another six inches (no photos here, it's not pretty!) and take that out, and then I break up another six inches and mix that with leaf mold. Then I fill in with my mix of 2 parts top soil to 1 part humus to 1 part peat--and hope the plants have a comfortable bed in which to spread their roots. Fortunately, they were smallish plants--suffice it to say I won't need a workout for a day or two, though I will need to get some more humus.

As I was digging, I hit another victim of the hurricane (or maybe of my benign neglect since then)--the walk leading up to the house. I uncovered five slabs from the walkway buried beneath a few inches of dirt.

That gave me an idea about how to mark off the island. We have a lot of small rocks, I suppose left from an unfinished project before we moved in--I haven't raised this bed much, so I just need something to let Salix know where he can't mow. The rocks look similar to the slabs in the walkway, so I'm going to use them to mark off the perimeter of the island, and then move some of the thyme that's spreading all over the front yard into the crevices between the rocks. Salix can mow the thyme without hurting it, and it in turn helps keep the grass from growing into the bed.

So here's what I'd finished on Tuesday--not much now, but I think it will be pretty as the shrubs establish themsleves and the flowers grow a bit with the better dirt. Then another surprise entered the equation--about eight feet from where I was digging is an old blue bird house. We have bluebirds in the back, but no birds have ever moved into this house--we figured it was too close to the front door. That is, until I started working on this bed. It's pretty late for bluebirds to be nesting, but this one is determined to move in, and he chatters at me incessantly as I water the new plantings (I tried to get photo of him, but I can't get close enough with my camera). I don't want to bother him too much, so except for the watering--which will need to be daily for a week or so--I'm going to stay out of the front yard until he decides what to do. He's a nice surprise, and there's plenty to do in the back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

After the rain

Like many people in the East, we Virginians have been waiting for rain. Early this week, it came with a vengeance--glorious thunderstorms drenched the garden (ok, producing as well a little hail, a lot of wind, a few hours without power, and poor Ranunculus terrified). I love the property after a rain. We always have to check for downed limbs (or trees), but then it's back to the garden for some of my favorite things--a little staking, some gentle weeding, a morning among the flowers.

These lilies were already staked, but they got so heavy that they pulled the stake (a bit of bamboo) out of the ground. Another instance of deer cages to the rescue--the cage provided enough support that the stems didn't break. I'm not much good at staking, actually--I prop the things that really need it (lilies, a transplanted sapling, my yucca in full bloom), but normally I'd rather move a plant than stake it. Case in point: shasta daisy in full sun can handle incredible winds, but give them a little too much shade and they're all over the ground--so if they flop, I wait until fall and find them more sun. Anyway, I wasn't careful enough with these lilies, but no harm done. In fact, jostling them as I restaked released their almost excessively intense fragrance.

We found the first beauty berry blossom (callicarpa americana), maybe coaxed out by the rain? These are natives and grow wild all over the property. They're unexceptional until the purple berries form in the autumn; I use them as "walls" defining parts of the garden because their bright green leaves provide a nice backdrop for more colorful plants, and they shade tender plants very nicely. I've heard people call them invasive, but I've never found them to be; if they took over where the weeds are growing in the back, I'd be delighted.

So here are the weeds, in the back beyond the gardens. Little pines crop up, as well as sprouts from the stumps where the big trees fell, but generally we have acres of some pretty noxious grasses asserting themselves. This is the way the back looks as we see it from the house.
Still, the destroyed woods have their own kind of beauty, even where the broken trees still loom:

So where was I going with this? Oh, yes--this rain storm was noisy but nice--the gardens were well watered, and there were only a few small limbs down. Ranunculus is still recovering (the dishwasher sent him under the coffee table this afternoon), but overall, the rain was a good thing.

The daisies and coneflower and gaura loved it; so did the daylilies and the abelia.

It brought a few weeds up in the beds, but just a few, easy enough to pull out while the ground is wet. So I just wandered today. The work out front will get done soon enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Too much of a good thing is never enough.

That's what my refrigerator magnet tells me. And when you're trying to combat acres of hurricane-produced weeds, you can develop a different attitude toward "invasive" plants--I prefer to think of them as "prolific." Still, finding the right spot for aggressive growers can be hard, particularly when you don't realize quite how much a certain plant will like (or love) certain growing conditions.

As I work on the front of the house, I'm faced with ferns, houttuynia and crocosmia run amok. The ferns are natives, and I haven't been able to identify them--they're deciduous, they're about 24" high and very upright, and their roots form dense mats that choke out other plants. They thrive in the bad soil under the French drains at the very base of the house, and they attract Japanese beetles.

Above are some full grown ferns growing behind a hydrangea (they're usually more upright, but we had some much-needed rain last night); below are shots of the root mass and of some babies growing back where I pulled them out of the drain two weeks ago.

I love ferns, and these are pretty in the right spot--they provide a nice backdrop in the tropical garden, for example, and the fig tree there can stand up to them. But the front border is too small for them, so I'm moving those to parts of the property that we don't plan to cultivate, so they can help combat the weeds that sprang up when the big trees fell. Anyway, does anyone recognize this fern?

The houttuynia--well, it's made Dave's Garden's list of top ten thugs (#4), and I wish maybe I'd checked with Dave before I planted it where I did! I'd never heard of it when I bought it in a very reputable local nursery a few years ago. I was looking for a little groundcover, and there was this colorful little plant looking like a cross between coleus and ivy. Nothing on the label suggested it might have a supporting role in Little Shop of Horrors. I bought three four-inch pots (cue the Gilligan's Island theme song: "three four-inch pots . . .")

Truthfully, I have a love-hate relationship with the stuff. I've just let it go around the loropetalum by the back deck, and I like the effect. This is my crazy border--the houttuynia competes happily with marjoram and chrysanthemum (the latter from a house warming gift in 2000--it's now all over the yard), and the loropetalum is itself a kind of freak--it was supposed to grow to about six feet, and it's easily ten and still growing. Bearded iris actually fare well in this bed--the other plants die back in the winter, so they're still small when the iris bloom--and their chaotic midsummer sprawl covers up the aging iris foliage.

I also think houttuynia is pretty in pots--it sets off petunias nicely, and deer don't like it so it tends to protect the tastier annuals.

But it's hard to get rid of it when you (well, when I) plant it in the wrong place--and the front bed where I started it was the wrong place. It's one of the few plants that I won't try to find another spot for when I pull it up--it transplants very easily, so if and when I ever want it in another spot, I have a permanent supply.

Crocosmia, on the other hand, isn't typically considered a thug. Mine isn't quite in bloom yet, but in week or so, the gardens will be full of deep red-orange flowers suspended on slender upright stems--from a distance, the flowers almost seem to float above the sword-like foliage. I think mine is a "Lucifer" cultivar, but I'm not sure since it came from a friend. I love the plant--and the plant loves my soil conditions. It grows from corms, but it also seems to spread from its root system--the handful of corms I started with has become literally hundreds of plants. Crocosmia isn't a problem the way other invasive plants can be, because it roots close to the surface, seems to happily coexist with whatever it works itself into the middle of, and is very easy to pull out and move somewhere else. Nevertheless, the tall, strappy leaves can obscure other plants: this stand started out two years ago as maybe ten corms that I envisioned as a small clump at the base of a crape myrtle.

During the spring and summer, the large clumps accent the corners of the house and garden very nicely, especially when the plant is in flower.

But the straps are fairly unsightly by autumn, so I've been transplanting to the back of borders and among autumn bloomers like mums to hide the wilted foliage.

So I'm removing these prolific plants from the front to allow some more gentle ones to fill in. I'll end with a favorite one, also comfortable at the base of the house, also easily transplanted, but much more polite around other plants.

This is sarcocca hookeriana, and it's a good thing I'll never have too much of. It's held its own beneath the ferns and crocosmia, and provided a nicely spreading bed that I am planting among the barberry and box at the front of the house. It's an evergreen with small, white, fragrant flowers in winter and early spring, and it will gradually provide a beautiful groundcover around the shrubs in the front.

Time to garden so that I'll have something else to write about--until next time.

Friday, July 4, 2008


This post started out titled "Too Much of a Good Thing," and it was going to be about the crocosmia and houttuynia I'm taking out of the front borders. But I decided to start with a digression about white rose campion, and, well, I went on a bit. Sometimes I have a little problem with focus (and not only in my photographs).

Joco, in a comment on Clay and Limestone, asked for a picture of white rose campion, so here is picture from my white garden:

This is called Lychnis "Angel Blush," and there is a very slight pink blush to the new blossom, but it turns bright white, almost a repeat of a bright white impatiens at the front of the border. This is a new plant for me--I bought it when my friend The Garden Curmudgeon took me to Sandy's Plants in Richmond (by the way, thanks, Tina, for showing me how to do links properly!).

A digression within a digression: Sandy's is a must-see. She has acres of perennials, so we have to drive around in golf carts to get our plants. I made the mistake of riding with the Curmudgeon the first time, who quickly filled up the back of the cart with his stuff (ok, he's a landscape designer and he was shopping for a client, but still)--one really needs one's own cart at Sandy's. One also really needs a shopping list: first, because you need to find the plants you want on the map so that you know where to drive the golf cart; and second, because if you don't have a list, you'll do what I did, and buy on impulse, which is very dangerous when you're surrounded by acres of plants and one of those acres (ok, about one of those acres, I didn't actually measure) is dedicated to native plants. Still, the impulses worked--one was the rose campion, whose gray foliage looks stunning next to near-black heuchera "Obsidian" (also from Sandy's) and bright green deutzia gracilis "nikko" (from Lowe's years ago)--the sun-loving plants surrounding it shade the heuchera and sweet woodruff beneath it very nicely.

I realize, by the way, that none of the plants I just mentioned are natives--but on that same trip, I did get some beautiful native columbine, some Virgina bluebells, and something they couldn't quite identify that's some kind of foam-flower (they had decided it was too prolific and so they weren't going to sell it--I apparently found a left-over so they gave it to me--it may end up in one of these "too-much-of-a-good-thing" posts, but for now, it's just a good thing).

But even if Richmond is a bit of a hike for you, Sandy's website is a wonderful source of information--she has a whole section devoted to one of my favorite topics, deer-resistant plants.

So now my digression has become a full-fledged post, and if I'm going to get any gardening done while the morning is still cool, I better get outside. More on crocosmia this weekend.

Happy Fourth of July!