It’s somewhat unfair that the garden here starts to look really good just as the very first signs of season’s end appear: touches of fall color here and there, the constellation Orion peeking over the eastern horizon just before dawn, and–for goodness’ sake–snowblower sales. I prefer to ignore all that and just enjoy the abundance of late summer.
I’d actually prepared the pictures for this post 2 weeks ago, because I thought I might not have time to do it now. But things are changing so quickly that I ended up replacing many of those images with pictures from the last few days. I’ll re-file the others and save them for a colorful winter post.
Daylily season mostly wound down in late July, but ‘Red Razzmatazz’ started flowering later than most of the others I have, and it produces so many buds that it’s just now finishing.
Tall, elegant ‘Autumn Minaret’ starts even later–in late July–and keeps going through August. Above it’s with orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) and golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia), as well as the fluffy tails of ‘Karley Rose’ Oriental fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale), some New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), and the see-through stems of ‘Skyracer’ purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea).
Blackberry lily (Iris domestica; formerly Belamcanda chinensis) is doing particularly well this summer. It’s been flowering since mid-July at over 5 feet tall, and it is a magnet for eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies. (What an amazing summer it has been for all kinds of butterflies around here!)
A few mint-family members are looking good right now, including ‘White Cloud’ calamint (Calamintha nepetoides) below…
…’Pink Manners’ obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)–above, with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)–and ‘Miss Manners’ obedient plant–below, with ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum).
Summer heat finally brought out the blooms of hardy hibiscus. I wasn’t always a fan of their huge flowers, but I’ve come to appreciate that sometimes they’re ideal for contrasting with a lot of fine-textured stuff, and that they can hold their own with equally big-and-bold partners too. Pure white ‘Blue River II’, for instance, looks great out back, offering some visual variety among the dozens of self-sown phlox plants.
‘Heartthrob’, below, is new for me this year, and I’m really impressed with its deep red shade. It’s a good color and texture for this spot, and it will be even better next year when it’s a foot or two taller in bloom. Here it’s with ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’), ‘Citronelle’ heuchera, not-yet-in-bloom ‘Solar Cascade’ goldenrod (Solidago shortii), and the summer foliage of ‘Gerald Darby’ iris (Iris x robusta).
‘Fireball’ is a beauty for a brighter red. Its lobed leaves are interesting in their own right, and it’s taller: to about 5 feet in its first year.
On the far more subtle side is flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata), below, also known as prairie baby’s breath or native baby’s breath. I’ve had it for over a decade but rarely photograph it, because bits of it pop up here and there and it’s usually pretty sparse-looking. Maybe someday it will find a spot it really likes and make more of a show.
This is also the season for balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus), including the ever-unpredictable ‘Axminster Streaked’.
The pineapple lilies (Eucomis comosa), too, have started opening their flowers in the last few weeks. I’ve been growing ‘Oakhurst’ for ages, so last year, I added a few ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (below) for comparison. To my eye, they’re identical to ‘Oakhurst’ in foliage color, height, and bloom time.
I usually don’t have much luck with red valerian (Centranthus ruber), but it’s been doing pretty well this year.
And then there’s this washy sort of pink: not usually my favorite, but I do like masterwort (Astrantia major), and this is what I have. It’s a seedling of ‘Sunningdale Variegated’, and its flowers are pretty much the same as those of its parent.
Yet another summer pink is whiteleaf leatherflower (Clematis glaucophylla). It’s loaded with flowers this year, which would be a good thing, except that a hummingbird has claimed it as its territory and I can’t walk under the arbor without getting harassed. I was lucky to get close enough for one picture.
Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) in August? Go figure. I direct-sowed the seeds in late April, and the following month of no rain really slowed them down, so they didn’t take off until mid-July.
A new annual for me this year is ‘Delft Blue’ love-in-a-mist (Nigella papillosa).
Each of the flowers is a little different: some are nearly all white and some are mostly purple-blue.
The cotton plants in the greenhouse–‘Red Beauty’ on the left and Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’ on the right–are still thriving.
‘Red Beauty’ started flowering in late July, with pink-blushed cream blooms that age to deep pink.
The black-leaved cotton started about 10 days later and has much deeper pink flowers right from bud stage.
Cupheas love this heat, too. I’m grateful that ‘Firefly’ is a dependable self-sower, because I didn’t have the time or money to buy and plant a lot of annuals out front. It was easy to transplant the ‘Firefly’ seedlings to the empty spots in June, and they are filled with flowers now.
The variegated ‘Figaro Violet Shades’ dahlia that I overwintered has started to bloom, too.
‘Karma Fuchsiana’ dahlia is still flowering now and will keep going until frost. Isn’t it nice how the rust spores on the ironweed leaves echo the bit of orange in the center of the dahlia bloom?
I showed the flowers of a male bastard hemp (Datisca cannabina) last month, so the female version gets a chance this month.
Many grasses are looking great now. A few of my favorites include frost grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus), flowering at 6 to 7 feet tall…
…’Prairie Munchkin’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), below, at about 14 inches now and still growing…
…’Skyracer’ purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Skyracer’), below, at hmmm, around 8 feet, I’d guess…
…and tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), below, at around 4 feet tall.
Now, a few late-summer combinations.
Above, the old and new blooms of ‘Strawberry Seduction’ yarrow (Achillea) with ‘Tanna’ burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) against golden meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria ‘Aurea’). Below, balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) with wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium).
Below, ‘Jeana’ summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).
Below is a different clump of purple coneflower with golden European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus ‘Aureum’)–part of which is taking on orangey fall color already–and some ‘Fiesta’ forsythia (Forsythia) at the bottom right.
I’ve seen some gorgeous pictures of eryngium-and-agastache combinations on Pinterest, so I had to give one a try for myself. This pairing of Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) doesn’t look like much this year, but I have hopes that it will be more impressive next summer.
The foliage of ‘Grace’ smoke bush (Cotinus) is usually gray-green-purple by late summer, but I didn’t get around to doing its second trim until late June, so it still has some rich color now. Below it’s with Brazilian vervain (Verbena bonariensis), a bit of dill (Antheum graveolens), and tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris).
Below, a late bit of dark mullein (Verbascum nigrum) is gracing the side garden.
And below, a clump of diminutive ‘Leia’ pineapple lily (Eucomis) with dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis), Wlassov’s geranium (Geranium wlassovianum), and orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) in the courtyard.
A few foliage highlights include variegated cinnamon vine (Dioscorea batatas ‘Variegata’)…
…’Golden Sword’ Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa) with cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma)…
…and October daphne (Sedum sieboldii) with woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus).
Below is peppermint geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum) with Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’), ‘Fire Alarm’ heuchera, ‘Fire Island’ hosta, and a bit of solid purple wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina).
The meadow has some interesting features now. Compass plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum or P. incanum) were both too aggressive for the garden, but they’re fine where they have room to seed or spread at will.
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), which came up on its own, its thriving too.
I have lots of New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) in the garden, and it’s abundant out in the meadow as well. As a plus, the rust that affects the foliage isn’t evident from a distance.
To finish, some general garden shots.
Above, next to the path to the front door, is ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth (Amaranthus) and podcorn (Zea mays var. tunicata). Below is another view, with ‘Fireball’ hardy hibiscus.
Below is the path through the courtyard to the barn, lined with ‘Black Beauty’ lilies.
From the opposite direction…
The grass paths are still spotty in some areas but should thicken up once we get more regular rain.
One shot of the Long Border and The Shrubbery, gearing up for its late-season spectacular.
In the sitting area out back, the ‘Pignoletto Giallo’ corn has really come along in the last month. I didn’t know what to expect from the plants, so it was interesting to see how short they were at tasseling stage (only 5 to 6 feet), with impressively sturdy stalks.
That’s it for now. For more late-summer garden goodness, check out Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens. And, find yourself some shade to keep cool!