Happy Bloom Day, all! So far, this summer has been a winner here in southeastern PA, with a nice amount of rain every few days. That means lots of mowing and weeding, of course, but no time wasted on watering, so there’s been time for some summer projects as well. More on that later; for now, let’s start with portraits of highlights from the last few weeks, beginning with some annuals.
Blue woodruff ( Asperula orientalis) Variegated dayflower ( Commelina communis f. aureostriata) Chinese forget-me-not ( Cynoglossum amabile) A new blue for me this year: violet-vein viper’s bugloss ( Echium lusitanicum). I started the seeds last summer without much hope of ever seeing the flowers, but the plants surprised me by making it through the winter. Violet-vein viper’s bugloss ( Echium lusitanicum) with hare’s ear ( Bupleurum rotundifolium) ‘Irish Poet’ tassel flower ( Emilia javanica) ‘Orange Crush’ four-o’clock ( Mirabilis jalapa) Large-flowered collomia ( Collomia grandiflora): not a spectacular garden flower, but it’s delicately pretty and nice for something different. If this intriguing flower were on some obscure rock-garden plant, it would probably be much in demand. But it’s just ordinary arugula ( Eruca sativa). The first of this year’s flowers on the black-leaved cotton ( Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’) The mixed sweet peas ( Lathyrus odoratus) are finally in flower This petunia started out years ago as ‘Blanket Zinfandel’, in the large container by the barn door. It produces a few seedlings each year, in varying shades of magenta. The green tendrils near the blooms are the linked leaf tips of gloriosa lily ( Gloriosa superba). After missing ‘Tip Top Mahogany’ nasturtium ( Tropaeolum majus) for many years, I’m grateful to Chiltern Seed for offering it again this year. Its bright red flowers are spectacular against the chartreuse leaves. The purple-gray foliage here is from a self-sown seedling of redleaf rose ( Rosa glauca). Red spider zinnia ( Zinnia tenuifolia) ‘Drama Queen’ annual poppy was a star in bloom last month, and the patch of pods was quite a sight too. I gathered the mature pods for crafting and collected lots of seed at the same time. The greens in this shot look kind of funky, but the pods of ‘Cramers’ Plum’ love-in-a-mist ( Nigella damascena) really are this dark. New for me this year: ‘Transformer’ fennel flower ( Nigella orientalis) ‘Pennies in Bronze’ honesty ( Lunaria annua) in late June ‘Pennies in Bronze’ honesty ( Lunaria annua) in mid-July Statice ( Limonium sinuatum) Have you noticed a theme in the last several shots? One of my “things” for this summer is harvesting and drying herbs, flowers, and seedpods for sales this fall and winter. I tried something different this year: Before I bring the prepared bunches into the house, I hang them on the back-porch clothesline for the afternoon. Besides speeding the drying, it gives the spiders and bugs a chance to find other homes. Winged everlasting ( Ammobium alatum)
“Pre-drying” herbs and flowers outdoors The loft is a terrific spot for drying. I leave the ceiling fan on full-time and use another small fan at night, or when it’s very humid. I usually keep the window shutters mostly closed, so the bundles aren’t exposed to direct sun. Most things dry in 3 to 4 days, and the entire house smells wonderful. Ah yes…after almost a decade since the last population boom of Japanese beetles around here, they are back in abundance. Any roses that dare to bloom are getting devoured right away. Going back to the garden: It’s prime time for summer perennials as well, including… The rugosa roses are still producing loads of buds, though, so I’ve been gathering them every morning and evening and drying them too.
Hollyhock! It’s just the “ordinary” Alcea rosea, but it’s not at all common for any hollyhock to look this good here. The leaves are almost invariably disfigured with rust, weakening the plants so much that they produce few, if any, blooms. But this year, several plants are flowering in various spots, and they are perfectly pristine. The Japanese beetles will probably start munching on them soon, but I’m enjoying the plants while they last. This charming hollyhock relative, musk mallow ( Malva moschata), showed up on its own last year and has been flowering for almost a month now. Rusty foxglove ( Digitalis ferruginea) Meadowsweet ( Filipendula ulmaria): one of my favorite perennials for fragrance July is peak time for daylilies ( Queen-of-the-prairie ( Filipendula rubra) Hemerocallis), but I chose just two to show here:
‘Nona’s Garnet Spider’ daylily ( Hemerocallis) And what would summer be without purple coneflowers? They look equally at home in the meadow and in the garden. ‘Milk Chocolate’ daylily ( Hemerocallis)
Purple coneflower ( Echinacea purpurea) that seeded into the meadow Purple coneflower ( Echinacea purpurea) paired with ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm ( Monarda) and ‘Isla Gold’ tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare) Common hogweed ( Heracleum sphondylium): Not the menace giant hogweed ( H. mantegazzianum), though apparently it too can cause exposed skin to become very sensitive to sunlight (a condition more elegantly known as phytophotodermatitis). I didn’t plant it, but it’s a good-looking thing, so I’m just being careful to not touch it. Flowering for the first time here: giant fleabane ( Inula magnifica) Blackberry lily ( Iris domestica, formerly Belamcanda chinensis) Chalice flower, or vine-leaved kitaibelia ( Kitaibelia vitifolia): single white flowers all summer on bushy, 4- to 5-foot tall plants. Even its most ardent fans couldn’t call it spectacular, but it’s charming and interesting for something different. ‘Axminster Streaked’ balloon flower ( Platycodon grandiflorus) with wild quinine ( Parthenium integrifolium) Rozanne geranium ( Geranium ‘Gerwat’) with upright spurge ( Euphorbia stricta ‘Golden Foam’) and ‘Dark Towers’ beardtongue ( Penstemon) Purple toadflax ( Linaria purpurea) Gooseneck loosestrife ( Lysimachia clethroides): not something I’d let loose in the garden proper, but it’s working out well planted in a tough spot out back with other thugs ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm ( Monarda) Magic primrose ( Oenothera glazioviana): the large flowers spiral open just before dark and are still open by dawn The main patch of prickly pear ( Opuntia humifusa) outside my basement window is in full bloom and quite splendid, but I had to acknowledge this plucky little piece, which has been sitting loose on a nearby stepping stone for months. Notice the tiny root making its way out of the base in search of some soil. After shooting this picture, I moved the pad back to the loose gravel, and it seems quite happy to have a permanent home. Wild quinine ( Parthenium integrifolium) A garden phlox ( Phlox paniculata) seedling with ‘Purple Rain’ salvia ( Salvia verticillata), frost grass ( Spodiopogon sibiricus), and asparagus ( Asparagus officinalis) False hemp ( Datisca cannabina): male plant Variegated pokeweed ( Phytolacca americana ‘Variegata’, aka ‘Silberstein’): a pity that it couldn’t have put itself somewhere less inconvenient, but it’s so handsome that I’ve not had the heart to try to remove it Variegated pokeweed ( Phytolacca americana ‘Variegata’, aka ‘Silberstein’) Japanese bottlebrush ( Sanguisorba obtusa): my least favorite sanguisorba, because the flowering stems are sparsely produced and sprawly, but the individual blooms are really cute Dark mullein ( Verbascum nigrum) ‘Governor George Aiken’ mullein ( Verbascum): fresh flowers open each morning through much of the summer It’s a little early for most grasses, but there are a few looking neat right now. Culver’s root ( Veronicastrum virginicum) in front of ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ willow ( Salix integra)
Bottlebrush grass ( Elymus hystrix, formerly Hystrix patula) Quaking grass ( Briza maxima) A few flower and foliage highlights on an herbal theme: Sideoats grama ( Bouteloua curtipendula)
Creeping winter savory ( Satureja montana ssp. illyrica) with variegated lemon thyme ( Thymus x citriodorus ‘Variegatus’) Wall germander ( Teucrium chamaedrys) Lavender cotton ( Santolina chamaecyparissus) ‘Variegated Berggarten’ culinary sage ( Salvia officinalis) Pine geranium ( Pelargonium denticulatum) ‘African Blue’ basil ( Ocimum) ‘Zloty Lan’ German chamomile ( Matricaria recutita) Aztec sweet herb ( Lippia dulcis) Some glorious summer bulbs include… Platinum Blonde English lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia ‘Momparler’) with ‘Clear Gold’ thyme ( Thymus)
Gloriosa lily ( Gloriosa superba): This is the first time I’ve grown this, but it won’t be the last! It’s been performing well in the container planting by the barn door. From the pictures I saw, I expected it to be red and yellow, but this one, at least, seems to start out cream and pink, turning solid rich pink as the flowers age. Abyssinian gladiolus ( Gladiolus murielae, formerly Acidanthera bicolor) This summer, I moved all of my post-bloom amaryllis ( Hippeastrum) bulbs to one large container instead of leaving them in their individual pots. They’re thriving in a sunny spot by the greenhouse and even producing new blooms. Drumstick allium ( Allium sphaerocephalon) leaning on ghost bramble ( Rubus thibetanus) Then there are the lilies. I’m grateful that I haven’t yet had to deal with lily leaf beetle here, but deer have been making some forays into the garden this year. Star of Persia ( Allium christophii) is just as handsome in seed as in flower. Here it’s with ‘Mercury Rising’ coreopsis ( Coreopsis), Phenomenal lavender ( Lavandula x intermedia ‘Niko’), and ‘Color Guard’ yucca ( Yucca). To be perfectly honest, this combo is a bit staged, because the larger allium head was actually growing right in front of the yucca. But when the heads are dry like this, it’s easy to cut them at ground level and move them around as you like.
The emerging buds of my beloved ‘Freya’ Longiflorum-Asiatic lily ( Lilium) got chomped just as they emerged in spring, but they still managed to grow and bloom. It’s a good thing I got this photo of Leichtlin’s lily ( Lilium leichtlinii) when I did, even though it wasn’t in full flower. By the next morning, the deer had neatly nipped off all of the buds and blooms they missed the day before. ‘Monte Negro’ Asiatic lily ( Lilium) growing in the same bed was spared, perhaps because the flowers were nestled into the ‘Golden Foam’ upright spurge ( Euphorbia stricta). ‘Forever Susan’ Asiatic lily ( Lilium) is one of my absolute favorite summer bloomers. Here it’s in front of ‘Isla Gold’ tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare) and ‘Royal Purple’ smoke bush ( Cotinus coggygria). Stout-stemmed ‘Conca d’Or’ Orienpet lily ( Lilium) opened its first flower this week. ‘Purple Prince’ Orienpet lily ( Lilium) is another midsummer beauty. A few vines that have really grown on me (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun)… ‘Robina’ Orienpet lily ( Lilium) is rich in both color and fragrance.
Most leaves of variegated cinnamon vine ( Dioscorea batatas) are mainly green with just a bit of white or cream, but some of the younger foliage, in particular, can be quite showy. Late Dutch honeysuckle ( Lonicera periclymenum var. serotina) To save space, I decided to shoot the leather flower-type clematis all together. From top to bottom: scarlet clematis ( Clematis texensis), whiteleaf leather flower (C . glaucophylla), vasevine ( C. viorna), and pale leather flower ( C. versicolor). Some wonderful woody plants that look lovely now: Two more seed-grown clematis of uncertain ID. I just call them “viticella types.” The flowers are small but abundant.
Southern bush honeysuckle ( Diervilla sessilifolia) with golden oregano ( Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) and giant fleabane ( Inula magnifica) Silverleaf hydrangea ( Hydrangea arborescens subsp. radiata) Common buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) Common buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) Japanese stewartia ( Stewartia pseudocamellia)
‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel ( Corylus avellana): beautiful when backlit
Wow, look at the thorns on this hawthorn ( Crataegus) seedling I planted out in the meadow years ago. No wonder the deer have left it alone. Another hawthorn ( Crataegus) seedling I planted at the same time has not done nearly as well. I finally took a close look at it this year and am pretty sure that the problem is cedar-quince rust ( Gymnosporangium clavipes). I knew about cedar-apple rust, but not cedar-quince rust. (There’s also a cedar-hawthorn rust, but I don’t think that’s the issue here, even though this is a hawthorn.) While I was out wandering around my meadow, I decided it was a good time to take a ramble a bit farther afield (so to speak). When I was taking pictures of cedar-apple rust galls back in April, I also saw this orangey gloop. I figured it was just another symptom of that fungus, but when I was researching cedar-quince rust ( Gymnosporangium clavipes), I discovered that this is what cedar-quince looks like on cedar ( Juniperus virginiana).
The first stop was our farm meadow right across the road. Even from eye level, it doesn’t look like there’s much of interest, but it rewards close inspection. Helmet flower ( Scutellaria integrifolia) Whorled yellow loosestrife ( Lysimachia quadrifolia) Wild garlic ( Allium vineale) White avens ( Geum canadense) Narrowleaf mountain mint ( Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) Ragged fringed orchid ( Platanthera lacera) Nearby meadows look equally unpromising but yield some nice finds. Hop sedge ( Carex lupulina) Black-eyed Susan ( Rudbeckia hirta) Sulphur cinquefoil ( Potentilla recta) Pale-spike lobelia ( Lobelia spicata) Butter-and-eggs or yellow toadflax ( Linaria vulgaris) Perforate St. John’s wort ( Hypericum perforatum) Midsummmer is a great time for hunting milkweeds. In just one field, I can find several species, including… A pretty pink-tinged Queen Anne’s lace ( Daucus carota var. carota)
Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca) Swamp milkweed ( Asclepias incarnata) Butterfly weed ( Asclepias tuberosa) with a pearl crescent (or maybe a northern crescent?) Allegheny blackberry ( Rubus allegheniensis) Wineberry ( Rubus phoenicolasius) Pennsylvania sedge ( Carex pensylvanica) making a lovely natural groundcover in these Pennsylvania woods This unassuming little plant goes by the charming common name of enchanter’s nightshade ( Circaea lutetiana). It looks dainty and innocent in the woods, but ugh, some of it ended up in my garden somehow, and it’s an aggressive spreader there. White coral fungus ( Clavulina cristata) It’s easy to find the ramps ( Allium tricoccum) this time of year, when they’re in bloom. To finish, let’s head back home for some general garden shots. The foliage of the ramps ( Allium tricoccum) went dormant a month or so ago, but other green leaves make a nice complement to its white flowers.
A path in The Shrubbery, lined with southern bush honeysuckle ( Diervilla sessilifolia) and ‘Dart’s Golden’ ninebark ( Physocarpus opulifolius) Well, this was a surprise. I started “ Digitalis grandiflora” seed a couple years ago, thinking it would be charming to have the low yellow spikes to line this path. When they flowered this year, they turned out to be rusty foxglove ( Digitalis ferruginea). They’re much taller than I’d envisioned, but otherwise I’m fine with them: the soft orange color is nice, and the flowers are so narrowly upright that they don’t block the path. Rusty foxglove ( Digitalis ferruginea) and drumstick allium ( Allium sphaerocephalon) in the side garden I finally got the last decaying cedar arbor taken down in courtyard. I couldn’t find an affordable new arbor big enough to replace it with, so I ended up using one of the old arches from the side garden flanked by two panels I salvaged from the cedar arbor. A front-garden vignette with Mellow Yellow spirea ( Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’), ‘Mardi Gras’ helenium ( Helenium), ‘Nona’s Garnet Spider’ daylily ( Hemerocallis), ‘Lucifer’ crocosmia ( Crocosmia), ‘Royal Purple’ smoke bush ( Cotinus coggygria), Diabolo ninebark ( Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’), ‘Prairie Sunset’ oxeye ( Heliopsis helianthoides), and Japanese burnet ( Sanguisorba tenuifolia) If you made it this far…thanks so much for reading. See you again next month! In the meantime, I’ll be busy deadheading the daylilies to keep Duncan supplied with his daily dose of yummy flowers. Purple coneflowers ( Echinacea purpurea) in the TDF border
If you’d like to enjoy more summery garden goodness, check out the list of this month’s GBBD participants in Mmmm…daylilies are delicious! Carol’s main Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens.