Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2020

Lilium leichtlinii [©Nancy J. Ondra/]

Another month has gone by already? These days, I automatically grab my seed-collecting basket instead of my cameras when I go outside, and it was only few days ago when I realized it was time to work on a new post. After a frenzy of photography over the weekend, I have just enough plants for this month’s Bloom Day post: a mix of old standards, some previous favorites making a reappearance, and some brand new (to me) additions for this growing season. Ready for the tour? Let’s start with the dark-spotted Leichtlin’s lily (Lilium leichtlinii), above with ‘Fine Wine’ weigela (Weigela florida ‘Bramwell’). It’s the first time the lilies have flowered in several years because the deer were getting to them first. They had about 2.5 days of bloom before getting chomped this year. I have finally accepted that I need to add netting around the entire garden this winter if I ever want to enjoy lilies and daylilies again. [Edit: I apologize in advance if the photos and/or captions below look wonky in your Edge or Chrome browser. I can’t seem to fix it now but will go back to the WordPress classic editor for future posts.]

Hayefield Seeds [©Nancy J. Ondra/]

Fortunately, the deer fencing I put up around my “seed farm” out back has been working. (I will add “so far,” so as not to invite cosmic retribution for tempting fate.) It’s not elegant, but it was inexpensive, as I was able to reuse the modular fencing system I’d had for the boys’ pastures.

Some unprotected plants that have so far escaped damage include…

Ruellia humilis [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Wild petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Phytolacca americana 'Variegata' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Variegated pokeweed (Phytolacca americana ‘Variegata’ [‘Silberstein’])
Hydrangea arborescens lacecap type [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
I hardly know how to identify this one. The original seed-exchange seeds came to me as Hydrangea arborescens var. radiata and produced both mop-head and lacecap-type plants, but none had the typical silver leaf undersides. Twenty years later, this seedling of a seedling of the original plants is lovely, even if its identity is ambiguous.
Filipendula rubra [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra)
Datisca cannabina [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
A male plant of false hemp (Datisca cannabina)
Asclepias purpurascens [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
Asclepias tuberosa [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Looks like ‘Hello Yellow’, but this glowing golden butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) didn’t grow from a purchased seed strain; it just came up on its own among the orange-flowered plants in the meadow.
Verbascum 'Governor George Aiken' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
‘Governor George Aiken’ mullein (Verbascum)
Verbascum nigrum and Petroselinum crispum [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Sadly, I can take no credit for this terrific combination of dark mullein (Verbascum nigrum) and in-bloom ‘Triple Curled’ parsley (Petroselinum crispum)–well, other than that I didn’t pull out the mullein when I saw it coming up in the middle of the parsley patch.
Melilotus alba [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
White sweetclover (Melilotus alba)–technically considered a weed…
Melilotus alba [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
…and yeah, I get it. But boy, this self-sown white sweetclover (Melilotus alba) made a terrific filler for this difficult spot!

Not bad, really, that so many pretty things have escaped being eaten. So far.

As for the plants inside the fenced area…well, I can’t say for sure whether they’d be deer candy or not, but I do not want to find out. I just enjoy seeing them thriving.

Solanum pyracanthum [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Porcupine tomato (Solanum pyracanthum): I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the deer would have left this alone even if it were outside the fence.
Phyla dulcis [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Deer probably wouldn’t like the strong, sweet scent of this Aztec sweet herb (Phyla dulcis, or Lippia dulcis), but I think it is wonderful.
Ipomoea muricata [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Unlike its white-flowered relative called moonflower (Ipomoea alba), lavender moonvine (Ipomoea muricata) isn’t fragrant, but it is still pretty.
Oxypetalum caeruleum [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Beautiful blue tweedia (Oxypetalum caeruleum)
Cephalaria gigantea [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
A developing seedhead of giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea)
Coenolophium denutadum [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Baltic milk parsley (Coenolophium denudatum)
Trigonella caerulea [Nancy J. Ondra/]
The flowers and developing seedheads of maple syrup-scented blue fenugreek (Trigonella caerulea)
Tanacetum parthenium 'Golden Moss' [Nancy J. Ondra/]
The compact, crinkled leaves of ‘Golden Moss’ feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Mirabilis jalapa 'Orange Crush' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
‘Orange Crush’ four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa)
Mirabilis jalapa 'Alba' [Nancy J. Ondra/]
White-flowered four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa ‘Alba’): Nearly lost this one a couple of years ago, but I managed to harvest six seeds last fall, and all of them are now growing and flowering abundantly.
Molucella laevis [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevis)

As far as the brand-new additions, here’s a sampling of some things I’m particularly happy with. May they set lots of seeds!

Rehmannia elata (R. angulata) [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Chinese foxglove (Rehmannia elata [R. angulata]): Reportedly hardy in Zones 7 to 10, but you can grow it anywhere as an annual because it flowers the first summer. I started these indoors on March 22 and they opened their first flowers on July 13. This beauty grows well in some shade, too.
Arachis hypogaea 'Jungle Striped' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
The first flower on ‘Jungle Striped’ peanut (Arachis hypogaea)! I have over a dozen plants growing in large pots and am hoping to get a good harvest of the striped seeds.
Papaver somniferum 'Hens and Chicks' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
I think this was the fifth time I tried to grow ‘Hens and Chicks’ (aka ‘Hen and Chickens’) poppy (Papaver somniferum). In other years, either the seeds didn’t germinate at all, or they didn’t produce these distinctive pods. Finally, I got to see these in person! The huge, pink blooms were spectacular in their own right, but ooh, look at these pods; aren’t they odd?
Papaver somniferum 'Hens and Chicks' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
A top-down view of ‘Hens and Chicks’ poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Nigella sativa [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Multipurpose black cumin (Nigella sativa), aka fennel flower: pretty flowers, interesting pods, and flavorful seeds too
Teucrium canadense [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
American germander (Teucrium canadense): I didn’t plant this one; I think it must have come in with some topsoil I got for the raised beds a few years ago. I like it, but it seems to be quite a spreader.
Lupinus mutabilis var. cruickshankii 'Sunrise' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
‘Sunrise’ annual lupine (Lupinus mutabilis var. cruickshankii ‘Sunrise’)
Lathyrus chloranthus [Nancy J. Ondra/]
Lathyrus chloranthus: Some of the flowers on these vines are the usual pure yellow; others produced unexpected rusty markings on the upright (standard) petal.
Tolpis barbata [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
European umbrella milkwort (Tolpis barbata)
Cladanthus arabicus [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Palm Springs daisy (Cladanthus arabicus): An unusual filler for the front of a border or a container
Cladanthus arabicus [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
A head-on view of Palm Spring daisy (Cladanthus arabicus): Notice how each flower sends out new spokes right under the petals, then those shoots do the same when they bloom, creating a layered, fractal-like effect.
Amberboa moschata [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Sweet sultan (Amberboa moschata): I’ve been having trouble getting this heirloom annual going, for some reason, but I managed to get a few of these spiky, bicolor blooms this year.
Carthamus tinctorius [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Spiky-looking safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
Centaurea americana [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Just look at the intricate bud bracts on American basketflower (Centaurea americana). This one is on my new favorites list.
Centaurea americana [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
The blooms of American basketflower (Centaurea americana) can be huge, atop 4- to 5-foot-tall stems.
Centaurea americana [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
And here’s a white version of American basketflower (Centaurea americana)
Silene uniflora [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
I bought these seeds as Silene virginica, but they turned out to be Silene uniflora. Oh well. The plants are cute and flowered the first year, so I can grow this species as an annual if it doesn’t survive the wet winters here.
Silene gallica var. quinquevulnera [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
A sweet little seed gift from a gardener in France: French catchfly (Silene gallica var. quinquevulnera). The botanical name is bigger than the bloom.
Zea mays 'Pink Zebra' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
‘Pink Zebra’ ornamental corn (Zea mays): supposed to be 4 to 5 feet tall eventually, but it’s only about 18 inches tall now.
Tomato 'Faelan's First Snow' [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
I’m trying a couple more variegated tomato strains this year, to compare with the old ‘Variegated’ or ‘Variegata’. This one is ‘Faelan’s First Snow’. The variegation on the stems and leaves is about the same, but the plants are significantly more massive, and the fruits look to be getting much larger too. This strain came from ‘Cherokee Purple’, so the flavor should be terrific. Can’t wait for the taste test!

While it’s exciting to have so many new things flowering this year, it’s also time to think about sowing and growing for next year. I have so many perennial seedlings coming along that I ran out of room in my holding beds, and I had to scrounge around for any containers I could find. Do I really need 18 northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) or two dozen halberd-leaved rose mallow (Hibiscus laevis)? Probably not, but how could I possibly throw any away? I suspect I may end up putting most of these in the former pasture areas, which are transitioning to meadow.

In case you’re in the mood to get some biennials and/or perennials growing, I’ll mention that I am adding lots of new seeds to my Hayefield shop here. Right now is a particularly good time to sow seeds of hellebores (Helleborus), by the way: The fresh seeds will get their needed warm-and-moist period and be primed to sprout this fall or next spring.

You can get updates on new shop additions and related seed news–and occasional special offers too–by signing up for my shop newsletter below. (Note that this is different than subscribing to the blog.) I sent out the very first newsletter earlier this month; if you think you were subscribed but didn’t receive it, please check your Junk or Spam folder, or get in touch with me. As a reminder: I normally ship only within the U.S., but if you live elsewhere and wish to place an order, please contact me (

As usual, thank you all for visiting today!

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13 Comments on “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2020

  1. Hi Nancy, very happy to see the pictures. Something is wrong with the text in the photo captions. It is all vertical. I am going to assume this is not just a glitch on my computer as normally I can see your writing horizontally & some of the descriptions here are horizontal, just not the photo captions.
    Best, Margaret

    Sorry about that, Margaret. It looks ok to me in Firefox and on an iPhone, but I see what you mean in Edge and Chrome browsers. I’ll see if I can figure out why that happens. If not, I can go back to putting the info in the text rather than captions. I appreciate you letting me know about this glitch.

  2. It’s always a treat to get a “tour” around your gardens. Everything looks beautiful. I can’t wait to see what seeds you’ll offer this year.

    Good morning, Nicole. Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope your garden is bringing you joy this summer!

  3. An absolute feast for the eyes! Your posts always make me smile, especially this statement “Do I really need 18 northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) or two dozen halberd-leaved rose mallow (Hibiscus laevis)?” Only a true gardener! Best regards.

    Hi Carol! Yeah, the seedling issue is a problem. It’s why I ended up starting a nursery years ago, to find homes for all of the little ones I didn’t have room for. Fortunately, I have much more space now, but still…it’s getting to be a lot to plant!

  4. What a wonderful start to my day! (A phrase you hear frequently, I know!) Thanks so much for your beautiful photos. I’m sure that there are many folks like me who enjoy your blog and who appreciate all of the time and effort you put into the blog over the years, but who have yet to comment saying so. :-) So here’s my first comment to your blog—THANK YOU! I can relate to having to find lots of pots to grow out plants. I started a bunch of perennials using the wintersow method and, um, now I have a lot of plants (34 different kinds) for which I’m trying to find places for their permanent homes. Who would have thought that wintersowing would be so successful?! Oy. Thanks again, Nan!

    A special welcome to you, Sue! I’m delighted to have you as a reader and to hear from you today. You obviously understand the excess seedling dilemma. I wish you good luck finding permanent spots for all of your precious little ones, whether it’s with you or your gardening friends!

  5. So many of my very favorite plants!!! Lovely to refresh my acquaintance with them as they are not in my gardens this year. But a chance seedling of mullein ‘Gov. George Aitkin’ did pop up next to the kitchen door! The original seeds came from you years ago. The best botanical surprise as I had been missing it. Wishing you continued good growing!!!!!

    Hi Tiiu! I’ve noticed that ‘Governor George Aiken’ has that wonderful way of producing seedlings in unexpected places, considering that it doesn’t seem to self-sow as freely as many other mulleins. I nearly lost it a few years ago but was lucky that a few volunteers kept it going. Hope you too have a great growing season!

  6. Thanks again Nan, for sharing your lovely plants and talent for photography, plus the notes. Always a delight to get an email from you in my inbox. Here in NW England it’s supposed to be Summer but, it’s cold 14°C 57°F wet and gloomy (suppose that is a typical English Summers day lol). Your post cheered me up.

    If I could, I would send you some of our heat and sunshine, Allan. I’d prefer 57F to 90F, but our summer does seem to be bringing out the best in many plants, particularly since we finally got a much-needed soaking rain a few days ago. May you be blessed with some warmth and sunlight soon!

  7. I love these posts, Nan, as I always find new favorites. That Leichtlin’s lily is so lovely, and my goodness the geometry of the Palm Springs Daisy!

    Like you, I have lots of baby perennials that will probably end up being moved to our meadow, and I’m scrounging for containers. I noticed you have mulch in your pots. Can I ask what you use? Looks a bit like pine bark but smaller. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Thank you, Gabriella, for reading and commenting. Well spotted about the mulch in the containers. I was desperate for mulch this spring but couldn’t get out to buy it, so I ended up mail-ordering bricks of coir (coconut hull) mulch. They were rather too expensive for garden mulching but perfect for the holding beds and containers: loose enough for good insulation and water penetration but heavy enough to stay in place during wind or watering.

    • Oh that’s a great idea. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Love the pictures Nan! I’m so jealous when I read you and others talk of having a meadow for extra plants….just dreaming. However I do pretty well finding gaps here and there in suburbia.

    Aw, sorry, Becky. I do remember what it is like to have a smaller garden–almost being happy when a plant died so there was room for something else. More room to plant means a lot more work, though! And, a lot more deer.

  9. Goodness! That is too much bloom for one bloom day. That is like a bloom month. It is nice that you grow four o’clock. It is considered to be a weed in some places. We need to contain it, but leave it where we can. Some of the more basic colors, but they are also the more fragrant sort.

    Hey there, Tony! Good to hear from you. I guess we are lucky that four-o’clocks aren’t hardy here, though they can self-sow.

  10. Dear Nan! I always spend a very good time reading your blog and discovering the tremendous variety of flowers you grow! So happy the tiny silene quinquevulnera flowered in your garden. It is very small indeed and flowers on a short time but if it feels happy in your garden it will self seed and you will see it everyyear (i often discover some in containers… and in various places!). I am having great success with your seeds this year, i want to thank you so much for them : browalia americana/ celosia mega punk/ and cuphea firefly (herbaceous ageratum i might have failed)! I will share this year seeds of them with my flower friends in France and Europe! Happy summertime!!!

    Greeting, Marilyn! I think of you every time I admire the silene; it is so charming. I hope it does choose to stay. I have managed to collect some seeds just in case. I’m happy to hear that you had luck with the browallia, celosia, and cuphea!

  11. Love your gardens and blog. I love all your plant combos, even if as you state they are an accident. Besides being a great designer, I love your photography.
    I have finally decided at my age, I have to realize I can’t have all the plants I see, so now I can sit back and enjoy your garden.

    How kind, Judy; thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and read. May you enjoy your garden this summer!

  12. What a labor of love this is! Photographs are beautiful and so inspiring. You are amazing!

    Thank you, Kem, so much. You’d know all about gardens as a labor of love!

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