Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bloom Day August 2008

I thought August would be a challenge--it's probably the fourth worst month for flowers in our area (after November-December-January). And I didn't bring in many annuals this year--my favorite plant source, a little farm about five miles from us, closed this year, and I didn't try very hard to find a substitute. And then, as I mentioned in my last posting, the rebloom that normally occurs around the beginning of August didn't happen this year--or more accurately, it didn't happen when or at the level I expected, I'm pretty sure because of the dry conditions.

But I have spent the last couple of days outside with my new camera, and although the garden is pretty green right now (so glad it's not brown!), there is some color out there for my first Bloom Day. The "Don Juan" climbing roses DID come back, though two weeks later than usual and in a somewhat sad state--you can see the effects of the beetles and the drought in the foliage.

Still, there's always something to celebrate by August 15th--the Japanese beetles are gone. Each year we have fewer--the damage was limited mostly to the climbing roses, where I couldn't reach to crush them.

There are blossoms on other roses, too--the "Knockout" rose is coming back a bit,

as is one of my favorites, Rosa moyesii "Geranium." In late spring, the bush is covered with its tiny blooms--now, I have to be content with three or four.

One of the shrub roses in the white garden is starting to bloom again, too. I lost the tags years ago--do you think it might be a pimpinellifolia? Whatever it is, it's good to know the deadheading helped a little.

The white garden is still in bloom, though the flowers are fading fast. The hanging baskets I found on sale helped--I pulled out annual vinca and what might be Nierembergia and planted it under the gaura and the shrub roses.

The bright white of the vinca belps the small, airy, but equally white flowers of the gaura stand out.

The Shasta daisies (ok, Chrysanthemum x superbum, but does anyone ever call them that?)--anyway, they're still carrying the garden, but the stalks in the back of the bed are starting to yellow--it will be time to trim them soon.

The Phlox paniculata is still in full bloom--I SO hope this one spreads--it and the white butterfly bush are the only fragrant flowers in bloom right now, but their scents fill the garden.

Other flowers are finishing for the season: there's one last tiny blossom on the Lychnis coronaria "Angel Blush"--but there are tons of seed heads, so I'm hoping for lots of babies in the spring.

The oak leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) have finished as well, but the dried flower heads are still beautiful.

Apropos of nothing but my delight and Ranunculus's dismay: it's raining! I stopped for a minute to watch the show and to comfort Ranunculus, who's gone to hide under Salix's desk (for some reason, Ranunculus finds Salix's office a haven from storms and vacuum cleaners--I guess he's figured out the vacuum doesn't go in there much, so maybe he reasons the same is true of thunder). I'm now looking at water pouring out of a section of clogged gutter and wishing I had a rain barrel underneath . . .

But to the task at hand. The bright garden isn't so bright, but there are blooms if you look for them. The butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a stalwart. One of ours is a volunteer, and I read that most "self-sown" bushes (though I suspect a bird) are pale purple, as this one is. The swallowtails love it.

The tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is in bloom. I love this plant--it looks like a tall fern thrugh the spring and early summer, and then produces little button-like flowers that are wonderful in bouquets. But it's a hard plant to place--it needs sun and it gets very tall. Fortunately, it doesn't mind being moved, since I keep moving it. I have an idea for a new border I'm planting this fall--I think the yellow buttons will look nice against the purple berries on the Callicarpa and interspersed with the blues of my Salvias--but more in a later posting.

Another plant in full bloom is Angelica gigas, a striking perennial that's often grown as a biennial. It's supposed to reach 4-6', so I planted it behind some Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue"--unfortunately, this year at least, the Angelica foliage topped out at about 3' and the flower at only about 2, so it's been hidden by the Salvia. I love it, so I'm going to let the seedheads develop and try to propogate more plants.

The Salvias are the other stalwarts right now. I have the "Black and Blue" everywhere--it can be thuggish, but it's easy to move, it's lovely, and the bees adore it. Mine bloomed early this year--it started in late May--and it's still going strong.

My friend Lezpedeza shared this Salvia with me--I'm pretty sure she found it at Elizabethan Gardens during one of our beach trips--as well as Salvia uliginosa, or bog sage, which is taller, more delicate looking, and a lighter blue, but also a prolific bloomer this time of year (and also a favorite of bees).

In the back of the garden, providing shade, is another favorite from Elizabethan Gardens--Clerodendrum trichotomum, or Harlequin Glorybower. This tree reaches about 20 feet--my tallest is about 10--and in late summer and fall, it's covered with tiny, star shaped, vanilla scented blossoms that develop from dark pink to white.

Nothing I've read about this tree suggests that it's thuggish, but I have about ten babies within twenty feet of this older one. Fortunately we have lots of room for small trees.

Not all of my August blooms are blooms. The Colocasia esculenta (Elephant ear) is coming into its own (here's where Latin names are important, since a lot of things including a noxious weed are called "Elephant ear"). I like the way its shape and color echo the calla lily leaf and contrast with the Japanese painted fern.

And thank goodness for Coleus--its foliage rivals a lot of flowers, and it's brilliant--even in the shade--when other plants are turning dull.

The island bed I was working on in the front yard before the bluebirds moved in is still showing a little color. The Echinacea purpurea has gone to seed--which in itself is lovely and attracts goldfinches--but the Alchillea millefolium is still threading itself through the Baptisia seedpods, and the Coreopsis verticillata will bloom into fall.

The plants around the deck contribute as well. Most of the herbs are blooming--here's Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), another bee favorite that is also a bad-bug repellant. We crush the leaves on our skin to keep away flies, and sometimes I stick strands under Ranunculus's collar.

And the flowers of marjoram and oregano spill over the deck stairs.

I know these don't count as blooms, but the figs ripening on the trees beside the deck provide color as well.

Potted plants do their part. This Crown-of-Thorns plant (Euphorbia x lomi) will probably be featured every Bloom Day--it moves inside the back windows in October or November where it continues to bloom all winter.

And the bull peppers look lovely with the purple flowers of Thai basil (I know I should trim the flowers to keep the herbs in leaf longer, but I love the flowers--so I just buy lots of little pots).

So I did have something to show for Bloom Day after all. But I'm really looking forward to September. Here's a preview--the buds are forming on my ginger lilies.

I won't be posting for a while--Salix has a conference in Bergen, Norway, so I'll be gone for ten days, exploring Scandinavian gardens. I'll miss reading about your gardens, but I hope to come back with some wonderful pictures. Adjo (goodbye) until the 26th!

Oops, posting postscript: be sure to visit May Dreams Garden for the complete list of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day contributions for August. Thanks, Carol.


Rose said...

You have lots of lovely blooms--isn't it amazing that when we look closely enough, all the surprises we can find in the garden.
How do you like your new camera? Your close-ups are great, especially the swallowtails.

Enjoy your trip! Do you get to explore while Salix works? Can't wait to see your pictures when you return.

tina said...

It all looks great, especially the Don Juan. I agree with you about the J. beetles, not as much damage this year. Glad you are getting rain.

Phillip said...

I love Don Juan, although I don't have it any more and I've always admired 'Geranium'. Have fun on your trip - Scandanavian gardens sound like fun!

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

I've read about glorybowers but have never actually met one. How great to finally encounter a gardener who has one. Lovely GBBD post.

Les, Zone 8a said...

Black and Blue is one of my favs also, and the honeybees do love it too. I like the fact that it blooms so long, and I even like its pungent smell. I gave my Mom the Clerodendron for her b-day last month, she has room for, I do not. I would not call it a thug, but I would not put it in a small garden either. Have you noticed how the crushed foliage smells of peanut butter. I think I like the seeds as much as the flowers. Have a great time on your trip and try some unfamiliar fish dishes.

Cosmo said...

Dear Curmudgeon--I love your name--one of my dear friends is also a curmudgeon (of curse not really--well, he's really a dear friend, but not really a curmudgeon). I love the glorybower--the scent is really lovely.

And yes, Les, I'd forgotten that the leaves smell like peanut butter--they're such a fall thing, I've been waiting for them all year. And I like the smell of the salvias, too--Lespedeza apologized for giving me a stinky plant, but I actually think they smell good. Maybe too much time around Ranunculus?

Cosmo said...

I love my new camera, Rose, but I'm taking Salix's little one to Norway--just trying to keep things light. I'm going to miss reading all of your blogs while I'm gone--have a wonderful week.

Carol said...

Thanks for joining in for bloom day. It was a treat to see your garden's flowers.

I've grow tansy before but it self-sowed so much that I had to get rid of it. That was nearly 10 years ago, and I still find the occasionally seedling of it. Do you have that problem with it?

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Entangled said...

Cosmo, your flowers are all lovely and the peppers really get my heart pumping.

But about tansy - mine has never bloomed in 5? years. I have the very ferny one. It spreads enough that I've been able to try it in several different spots, but I've never seen it flower anywhere. I keep it just for the foliage though - a nice ferny look where ferns won't grow.

Have a great time in Norway!