Hot and dry have been two repeating themes over the past month, but it’s midsummer now, so those factors aren’t all that unusual. Several other appearances
have been unexpected, though.
I’ve tried for quite a while to get colewort ( Crambe cordifolia) established from seeds and plants, so when I saw these sturdy leaves emerging, I thought I’d finally gotten one going. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Luke, I now know that it is Siberian hogweed ( Heracleum sphondylium var. sibiricum) Who knows how it got here, or how I didn’t notice it earlier. But it’s welcome to stay, since it apparently lacks the toxic properties of other hogweeds, and I like the lacy white flowers. When I first saw a tiny yellow Arisaema flower in one of my nursery beds, I figured it was just a malformed bloom. When I noticed this second plant, just about ready to go to seed, I did a little research and found out that it is Arisaema flavum. As far as I know, I’ve never sown seeds of A. flavum, and anyway, the last time I grew any arisaema from seed was at least 7 years ago. Who knows how two plants ended up being in this small, often-replanted bed long enough to reach flowering size without my noticing them before. Have you ever seen those little garden signs that say “I don’t remember planting this!”? I don’t have much luck with most coreopsis, and I know I didn’t buy or sow this one. It’s not a color combo I would have chosen, either. But it looks pretty good where it is, so it can stay as long as it likes. I usually fill my larger containers about halfway with alpaca manure. It saves a lot of expense on potting soil, though sometimes unexpected things pop up in the planting. Most are weeds, but this year, a surprise watermelon vine is serving as the trailing plant in this container. What makes it even more unexpected is that I generally give the boys seedless watermelons. It’s been 7 or 8 years since the last time the Japanese beetles were bad here; I’ve seen a few here and there since then but they caused little damage, and I hoped our luck would hold for a while longer. This year, however, their population exploded in my garden and meadow, and they are everywhere. That’s bad news for the grapes, roses, echinaceas, sanguisorbas, persicarias, and other Japanese beetle favorites. With all of the dogbane ( Apocynum cannabinum) in the meadows here, it’s hardly a surprise that there are dogbane beetles ( Chrysochus auratus) too, but I seldom see them and rarely have had the chance to photograph one. This garden visitor certainly was a surprise! I’ve heard him yowling around the neighborhood for years, and he occasionally chases me and the boys when we’re out for a walk, but I never realized that he came down this far. More common sightings at this point in the season include dependable summer-blooming flowers, such as milkweeds ( Mr. Peacock took a stroll around the garden–staying neatly on the paths and looking every bit as bored as most people do when they come to see the garden–and then sauntered back up the road as silently as he came. Asclepias). Four species have made themselves at home in the meadow here:
Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca) Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca) Purple milkweed ( Asclepias purpurascens) with great spangled fritillary ( Speyeria cybele) Orange milkweed ( Asclepias tuberosa) Mountain mints ( Almost-open swamp milkweed ( Asclepias incarnata) Pycnanthemum) aren’t as eye-catching, but you sure can’t miss them when you brush the foliage and release their scent.
Narrowleaf or slender mountain mint ( Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) Virginia mountain mint ( Pycnanthemum virginianum) In the garden, some July standards include the true lilies ( Clustered or short-toothed mountain mint ( Pycnanthemum muticum) Lilium)…
‘Freya’ LA Hybrid lily ( Lilium) with ‘Gold Cone’ juniper ( Juniperus communis) and black mullein ( Verbascum nigrum) Leichtlin’s lily ( Lilium leichtlinii) with ‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel ( Corylus avellana) and Fine Wine weigela ( Weigela florida ‘Bramwell’) ‘Robina’ Orienpet Hybrid lily ( Lilium) with tufted hair grass ( Deschampsia cespitosa) …and daylilies ( A new favorite: ‘Forever Susan’ Asiatic lily ( Lilium) from Brent and Becky’s Hemerocallis).
‘Nona’s Garnet Spider’ daylily ( Hemerocallis) with ‘Red Spider’ zinnia ( Zinnia tenuifolia), Mellow Yellow spirea ( Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’), and ‘Royal Purple’ smoke bush ( Cotinus coggygria) July usually sees the start of dahlia season, too. ‘Milk Chocolate’ daylily ( Hemerocallis) with golden foam spurge ( Euphorbia stricta)
‘Karma Fuchsiana’ dahlia with ‘Purple Rain’ salvia ( Salvia verticillata) Mulleins are another midsummer standard. A variegated dahlia seedling from the ‘Figaro Violet’ strain. I’ve managed to keep it going from the roots for several years now. It also produces some variegated offspring from seed!
Black mullein ( Verbascum nigrum) The poppies ( ‘Governor George Aiken’ mullein ( Verbascum) with eastern daisy fleabane ( Erigeron annuus) and giant fleeceflower ( Persicaria polymorpha) Papaver) are just about finished…
The last ‘Lauren’s Grape’ poppy ( Papaver somniferum) and ‘Provence’ lavender ( Lavandula x intermedia) against ‘Sunny Side Up’ pokeweed ( Phytolacca americana) …but there are plenty of other beautiful bloomers left to carry the show through the dog days. In no particular order… The first round of flowers from poppy plants I grew as “cherry red doubles” were a rich pink. When those plants were done, the rest bloomed in this brilliant red.
Charming annual blue woodruff ( Asperula orientalis) New to me this year: ‘Xanthos’ cosmos ( Cosmos bipinnatus). It flowered earlier than most cosmos, and the individual flowers are pretty, but you really need to keep the spent blooms pinched off so they don’t detract from the show. Now, this one is really cool! I’m hoping to collect seed from this intriguing seedling that came up in the same batch of ‘Xanthos’ cosmos. ‘Delft Blue’ love-in-a-mist ( Nigella papillosa) Chilean glory flower ( Eccremocarpus scaber) Another new annual for me this year: bird’s eye gilia ( Gilia tricolor). I had just a few seeds, so I sprinkled them in the vegetable garden. They were very happy there, and now I have lots of seeds! Tangier pea ( Lathyrus tingitanus) ‘Double Blue’ butterfly pea ( Clitorea ternatea): flowering now from seed sown in mid-April White four-o’clock ( Mirabilis jalapa ‘Alba’) The pods of ‘Cramers’ Plum’ love-in-a-mist ( Nigella damascena) with a red-leaved peach ( Prunus persica) seedling Petunia exserta Creeping false holly ( Jaltomata procumbens): a tomato relative that is flowering now. There should be many small, black fruits soon. Drumstick allium ( Allium sphaerocephalon) I grow quite a few plants that many people consider weeds, and I try to keep an open mind about other plants that some people treasure, even if I don’t care for them. It astounds me, though, that bulb suppliers sell this as Allium sphaerocephalon ‘Hair’. It’s definitely not a variant of that species: It’s what most plants of the weedy wild garlic ( Allium vineale) look like this time of year–around here, anyway. I’d probably think it was neat if I didn’t see–and pull out–hundreds of them every summer, before each head can drop dozens of new bulblets. Years ago, when I was more focused on bright colors, I wouldn’t have given branched St Bernard’s lily ( Anthericum ramosum) a second look. But when I received some seeds as a gift (thanks, Rox!), I gave them a try, and I’m very glad I did. The dainty blooms appear in midsummer and make a nice alternative to gaura, which hates my winter-wet soil. It’s challenging to get a good photograph of giant scabious ( Cephalaria gigantea), partly because the flowers are held far apart and partly because they are usually buzzing with bees. I acquired this plant years ago as Coreopsis tripteris. The flowers look right, but the foliage is more similar to that of Coreopsis verticillata. Could be a hybrid, I guess. Whatever it is, it’s an outstanding garden plant, reaching about 5 feet if unpruned, with a very dense, upright habit. Here, it’s with ‘Grace’ smokebush ( Cotinus). The last few blooms of pale leatherflower ( Clematis versicolor) with some developing seedheads. For quite a while, I wondered if my various species clematis weren’t producing any viable seeds, but this spring, I found more than a dozen self-sown seedlings throughout the side garden. It’ll be interesting to see what they look like when they’re old enough to flower. Rattlesnake master ( Eryngium yuccifolium) has really made itself at home here too, and I’m happy to see it wherever it puts itself, whether that’s in a border or the meadow. American ipecac ( Porteranthus stipulatus) with Pink Knock Out rose ( Rosa ‘Radcon’) and ‘Brookside’ geranium ( Geranium) Unlike many dianthus, clusterhead pink ( Dianthus carthusianorum) flowers through much of the summer. A nice little find in the meadow: yellow-star grass ( Hypoxis hirsuta), barely 3 inches tall in bloom This dainty beauty was a new find for me this year: spike lobelia ( Lobelia spicata) Finally: what ‘The Flasher’ Maltese cross ( Lychnis chalcedonica) is supposed to look like! A summer classic: rose campion ( Lychnis coronaria) Eastern prickly pear ( Opuntia humifusa) ‘Jacob Cline’ bee balm ( Monarda) with golden foam spurge ( Euphorbia stricta) Magic primrose ( Oenothera glazioviana) isn’t much to look at plant-wise, but it’s worth growing this biennial at least once to experience the magic: Over a period of several weeks, some flowers spiral open each evening, just before dusk. I posted a video of a few of mine opening one evening, but without the fragrance, you’re getting only half of the experience! Ragged fringed orchid ( Platanthera lacera) isn’t very showy, but it’s still a thrill to find an orchid growing among the “weeds” in the meadow. Speaking of weeds…Queen Anne’s lace ( Daucus carota var. carota) is hardly special, but it can still be eye-catching. The eye-level blooms of giant coneflower ( Rudbeckia maxima) At the other end of the height spectrum: tiny white sedum ( Sedum album), with some creeping thyme ( Thymus coccineus) in the foreground Though the seeds came to me as Lychnis alpina, I’m pretty confident that this is actually Sweet William catchfly ( Silene armeria). Another nice surprise: seeds of “yellow salvia” that ended up being yellow germander ( Teucrium flavum) Common valerian ( Valeriana officinalis) Culver’s root ( Veronicastrum virginicum) Japanese stewartia ( Stewartia pseudocamellia) Buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) Tufted hair grass ( Deschampsia cespitosa) Eastern gamagrass ( Tripsacum dactyloides) Green bulrush ( Scirpus atrovirens) Fox sedge ( Carex vulpinoidea) The robins and mockingbirds managed to scarf down all of my cherries this summer–I didn’t get even one–but I did get to enjoy a good harvest from Raspberry Shortcake dwarf thornless raspberry ( Rubus idaeus ‘Nr7’). ‘Pixwell’ gooseberry ( Ribes uva-crispa) A few leafy highlights in honor of The fruits of this red-leaved peach ( Prunus persica) seedling aren’t of much use for eating, but I’m happy to see them, because it means I can collect the seeds later this summer. Foliage Follow-Up, hosted by Pam of Digging on the 16th of each month.
Now I know that the variegated frost aster ( Symphyotricum pilosum) I found a few years ago comes partly true from seed, I can start sharing it! Variegated cinnamon vine ( Dioscorea batatas ‘Variegata’) Back this year, so I can refresh my seed supply: ‘Old Gold’ field corn ( Zea mays) If I ever wondered why I “bother” giving away so many seeds, I got my answer: When I put out a call last summer for seeds of the ‘Tiger Cub’ corn I lost, I received some back from two readers; yay! I thought it would be good to grow out some variegated tomato plants this year too, to get a fresh batch of seed for saving. Moving on…a couple of combinations. Three-month-old seedling of physic nut ( Jatropha curcas)
Strawberry foxglove ( Digitalis x mertonensis) with yellow-leaved common yarrow ( Achillea millefolium ‘Aureum’)–granted, the yarrow’s leaves don’t look yellow now, but they are yellowish green in spring. Creeping thyme ( Thymus praecox) and ‘Elfin’ thyme with white sedum ( Sedum album) ‘Spitfire’ coleus with ‘Vermillionaire’ firecracker plant ( Cuphea) and ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine ( Ipomoea batatas) Hare’s ear ( Bupleurum rotundifolium) with ‘Purple Rain’ salvia ( Salvia verticillata) and ‘Purple Queen’ spider flower ( Cleome) ‘Phoenix’ nasturtium ( Tropaeolum majus) with ‘Red Spider’ zinnia ( Zinnia tenuifolia) White wood betony ( Stachys officinalis ‘Alba’) with white-variegated sweet iris ( Iris pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’) ‘Munstead’ English lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia) with ‘Snowcap’ Shasta daisy ( Leucanthemum x superbum), ‘Clear Yellow’ thyme ( Thymus), and branched St Bernard’s lily ( Anthericum ramosum) ‘Elizabeth’ two-row sedum ( Sedum spurium) with creeping thyme ( Thymus praecox) and hens-and-chicks ( Sempervivum) ‘Prairie Sun’ black-eyed Susans ( Rudbeckia hirta) with golden foam spurge ( Euphorbia stricta) and a seedling of ‘Isla Gold’ tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare) You’d think I’d remember to plant the container by the barn door first, since I see it more often than any other. Instead, I usually end up leaving it for last and then filling it with odds and ends. This year, the chicken gizzard ( Iresine herbstii ‘Aureoreticulata’) and Petunia exserta I stuck in there have been joined by volunteer seedlings of last year’s violas and petunias. And to finish, just a few general garden shots. ‘Strawberry Seduction’ yarrow ( Achillea) with ‘Monte Negro’ Asiatic lily ( Lilium) and golden foam spurge ( Euphorbia stricta)
Too much chartreuse, do you think? The golden foam spurge ( Euphorbia stricta) and seedlings of ‘Isla Gold’ tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare) are particularly abundant this year. There should have been a lot more of the drumstick alliums ( Allium sphaerocephalon), but…er…I accidentally pulled out many of them earlier this spring, thinking that they were wild garlic. Sigh. Giant fleeceflower ( Persicaria polymorpha), white rose campion ( Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’), Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’, purple coneflower ( Echinacea purpurea), and prairie dropseed ( Sporobolus heterolepis) in the side garden Wild quinine ( Parthenium integrifolium) and silver willow ( Salix alba var. sericea) in the side garden For more midsummer garden goodness, check out the list of participants in this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day in Hydrangea, ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears ( Stachys byzantina), rose campion ( Lychnis coronaria), catmint ( Nepeta), and giant fleeceflower ( Persicaria polymorpha) in the side garden Carol’s post at May Dreams Gardens.
Aren’t you grateful that YOU don’t have to wear a thick alpaca coat in July?