I hardly know where to begin this month. Things are looking so good right now that I’m practically giddy with it all every time I step outside. The responsible part of me says that I should be weeding or harvesting veggies or taking the boys for a walk (or doing actual work), while the rest of me wants to just grab my camera and wander around to capture every part of the late-summer spectacle.
From some angles, the courtyard looks pretty much the same as it always has at this time of year: mostly pink and white, with lots of perennials and grasses.
The ‘Black Beauty’ Orienpet lilies have been flowering for over 3 weeks now. Having them right next to the path from the house to the barn means that I get to enjoy their beauty and fragrance many times each day. Lots of butterflies and other interesting insects (like the hummingbird moths) enjoy them too.
The purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are also emphatically pink. Above they’re with little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium); below, from the other direction, they’re between ‘The Blues’ little bluestem and taller ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panicgrass (Panicum amarum).
This area is even prettier in early evening, when backlit by the setting sun. From this angle, you can also see the fluffy spikes of ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) and, in the background, the nodding tails of white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’).
There’s more pink from the Joe-Pye weeds: in the front, Eutrochium dubium ‘Little Joe’ and in back, E. purpureum.
Along the cross paths through this area, though, I’ve been tucking in some brighter colors.
When it comes to “bright,” it’s hard to beat ‘Zahara Scarlet’ zinnia!
Annual ‘Roulette’ coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is more subtle, with rich red and gold flowers on wispier plants.
The bright colors continue into the front garden, with lots of cannas and coleus.
The ‘Glass Gem’ corn has gotten huge and looks like it has many ears, but as far as I can tell, there are few kernels forming. If I try it again, I will plant it in a block for better pollination, as you’re supposed to. I guess I’ve gotten spoiled by the other corns I’ve been growing, because they seem to be able to produce good ears with just a few plants.
The other side of the front path is looking very good this year. A few of the most noticeable plants include ‘Australia’ and Tropicanna (‘Phaison’) cannas, Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’), ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), ‘Gerald Darby’ iris, and ‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel (Corylus avellana).
Below is a bit of detail from that area: ‘Flamenco Samba’ cuphea with an all-purple form of wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina).
Walking a little farther down the path and turning right produces these two views. To the right (above) is a vignette of ‘Emberglow’ crocosmia with ‘Prima Rosa’ chard, ‘Bull’s Blood’ beets, Canna indica var. purpurea, and the ‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel. To the left (below) is a glimpse further into the garden, with cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and ‘Australia’ cannas against golden catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’).
Purple smokebushes (Cotinus) are stars in the middle of the front garden. Above is a view from the porch, with ‘Velvet Cloak’ in the foreground and hybrid ‘Grace’ behind. I cut both of these down to 12 to 18 inches before new growth started in spring, then nipped them back again, by about half, in June. Below is a closer view of ‘Grace’. By this point, you can tell that there’s a lot of purple, yellow, orange, and red in this area.
Below is one of my favorite combinations this year: golden lace (Patrinia scabiosa) with ‘Orange King’ zinnia.
Above and below are shots of the middle path, one from each end.
And below, looking back along the main front path.
In this part of the side garden, there’s lots of yellow now from the golden lace and the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida).
Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) is a recurring theme in the quieter parts of the side garden. Above it’s with ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affine), and a NOID Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). Below it’s with Nicotiana sylvestris and Verbena bonariensis.
Below are several more shots of this area.
And below, a close-up from the area shown above, with ‘White Russian’ kale and wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium).
Above is a view of the area out back, taken from the back porch. Below is closer view of the perennial meadow area.
The black-eyed Susans are most noticeable, but there are lots of other things in there too, such as a 4-in-1 Asian pear (above) and one of my pawpaws (Asimina triloba), as well as a variety of later-flowering perennials.
Above and below are the same area looking back toward the side garden and house.
The veggies are looking great this year, thanks to all of the rain. The squash are usually dead or dying by now due to squash borers, but they survived with just a bit of wilting and have come back even stronger. It’s going to be hard to find space for the fall crops now! Below is a cute little gourd that seeds around each year. This one obligingly placed itself on the fence that separates the veg garden from the pasture. Apparently alpacas do not find gourds tasty.
I’m enjoying some new things out there this year, including a really neat cucumber from central China. Below is a gift from Rick Rickman: ‘Autumn Glow’ winter squash, with gorgeous variegated foliage and yellow stems.
Above and below is‘Old Gold’ corn. It’s a dent (field) corn, not a sweet corn, so it’s “chust for nice,” not for eating.
The garlics are just about finished flowering now. Some of them produced these dainty flowers, which mature into heads of tiny bulbils.
The rocambole garlic produces much larger bulbils. Some of them I bring in and peel to toss into salads and pesto; the rest I just let drop to thicken the patch. (I rarely dig up the actual bulbs, keeping multiple patches for the greens instead.)
Things are looking good outside of the fenced area, too. Above and below are two views of the Arc Borders.
I finally had a chance to weed and edge the TDF Border out front, which imposed some much-needed tidiness on the exuberance. Below is a bit of grassy detail from the center of that border, with eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) in front of ‘Indian Steel’ Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and behind little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium: ‘The Blues’ on the left and the straight species on the right).
Walking down along the road and looking back, the end of the Long Border overlaps with the TDF Border, making the whole thing look like one huge planting. Below is a bit of detail from the foreground above, with rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) mingled with ‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum).
Looking straight ahead from this point, you can see into The Shrubbery. Below is a better view of the border along the fence that encloses the front garden. (I mentally refer to this as the Easter Border because I planted part of it on one Easter weekend and extended it on Easter weekend the next year. I realize that only makes sense to me. Normal people would expect an Easter border to look its best on, well…Easter, not in late summer and fall.)
It contains duplicates of many of the perennials and grasses you’ve already seen in this post. The only different thing is the dark seedheads of Carolina lupine (Thermopsis villosa) in the center. Still, it’s neat to see how the same plants can put themselves together in different ways. I really like the golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) with bright reds and oranges, but it’s also lovely with silvery blues, such as ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panicgrass (Panicum amarum). The shot below also includes more black-eyed Susans and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora).
Looking down the Long Border, more of the ‘Cassian’ fountain grass and black-eyed Susans with ‘Northwind’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) and Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum).
And here’s a path between some of the Shrubbery beds: ‘Chermesina’ willow (Salix alba) on the left, ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panicgrass on the right, and silver willow (S. alba var. sericea) in the back.
To finish up, some miscellaneous portraits and combinations:
Above, one of my new favorite annuals, ‘Soleado’ zinnia (Zinnia haageana) with ‘Red Star’ dracaena (Cordyline australis) and Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’). Below, New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) with golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia).
Above, a terrific little no-name marigold that I’m crazy about; more on that in an upcoming post. Below, Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus).
Above, detail from a planter out by the barn, with Alternanthera ‘Red Threads’, ‘Million Suns’ creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia), ‘Illusion Garnet Lace’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), ‘Black Pearl’ pepper (Capsicum annuum), ‘Profusion Orange’ zinnia, and a bit of Fiona Sunrise jasmine (Jasminum officinale ‘Frojas’).
Below, ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia with ‘Religious Radish’ coleus.
Above, ‘Flamingo Feather’ spike celosia (Celosia spicata) with okra. Below, ‘Immortality’ iris back for a second round of bloom for this year. Hooray for reblooming irises!
Above, blue pimpernel (Anagallis monellii); below, Rumex flexuosus.
Above, ‘Oakhurst’ pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa); below, a mingling of Veronica grandis, ‘Erica’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum), and golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia).
Above, a good representative of ‘Ondra’s Green Mix’ nicotiana. One person who received seeds of this from my giveaway last fall reported back that some of his plants produced brown flowers as well. I too noticed that there’s a range of greens, pinkish browns, and intermediates in the front garden this year.
I guess I’ll use ‘Ondra’s Mint Chocolate Mix’ for the seeds I collect this year, then try to get the original all-green strain back from some isolated green plants out back. But in the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing from those of you who received seeds of ‘Ondra’s Green Mix’ last fall, to know how yours turned out.
The same goes for those of you who got seed of the ‘Axminster Streaked’ balloon flower below: did yours come mostly true (with varying amounts of blue and white in each flower)? Feel free to report back on any of the other seeds as well, whether they worked out or they didn’t. It would be helpful to know if a number of people had poor luck with any of the seeds, so I don’t bother collecting and cleaning them for this year’s giveaway.
Ok, back to the plants: above, the seedheads of ‘Amazone’ tuberous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis tuberosa) with black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida); below, ‘Fishnet Stockings’ coleus.
Above, ‘Keystone Kopper’ coleus with dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affine); below, purple-leaved plantain (Plantago major ‘Atropurpurea’).
Above, Cuphea viscosissima, which is commonly known as blue waxweed—which is weird, as it is neither blue nor waxy—or clammy cuphea. The latter name makes a bit more sense, as it definitely feels sticky. You can see the short, sticky hairs that cover many parts of the plant.
Below, just some ordinary sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus), here to celebrate the very existence of fragrant sweet peas in the middle of a Pennsylvania August.
Above, sweet scabious (Scabiosa atropurpurea; thanks for the seeds, Clark!); below, ‘Charity’ scented geranium (Pelargonium).
Out back, a pretty mix of smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), summer phlox (Phlox paniculata), and Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum).
Oh, the indignity of it all. Now that Mr. Hawk has done his job discouraging the robins from nesting on the porch this spring, he’s getting overgrown by the ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii).
Looking for more late-summer gardens?
Check out the list of this month’s Bloom Day participants in Carol’s main GBBD post at May Dreams Gardens. Thanks for visiting!