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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.

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…

Wild petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Variegated pokeweed (Phytolacca americana ‘Variegata’ [‘Silberstein’])
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.
Queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra)
A male plant of false hemp (Datisca cannabina)
Purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
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.
‘Governor George Aiken’ mullein (Verbascum)
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.
White sweetclover (Melilotus alba)–technically considered a weed…
…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.

Porcupine tomato (Solanum pyracanthum or S. pyracanthos): I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the deer would have left this alone even if it were outside the fence.
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.
Unlike its white-flowered relative called moonflower (Ipomoea alba), lavender moonvine (Ipomoea muricata) isn’t fragrant, but it is still pretty.
Beautiful blue tweedia (Oxypetalum caeruleum)
A developing seedhead of giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea)
Cenolophium denutadum [©Nancy J. Ondra/]
Baltic milk parsley (Cenolophium denudatum)
The flowers and developing seedheads of maple syrup-scented blue fenugreek (Trigonella caerulea)
The compact, crinkled leaves of ‘Golden Moss’ feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
‘Orange Crush’ four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa)
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!
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.
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.
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?

A top-down view of ‘Hens and Chicks’ poppy (Papaver somniferum)
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.
‘Sunrise’ annual lupine (Lupinus mutabilis var. cruickshankii ‘Sunrise’)
Lathyrus chloranthus: Some of the flowers on these vines are the usual pure yellow; others produced unexpected rusty markings on the upright (standard) petal.
European umbrella milkwort (Tolpis barbata)
Palm Springs daisy (Cladanthus arabicus): An unusual filler for the front of a border or a container
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.
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)
Just look at the intricate bud bracts on American basketflower (Centaurea americana). This one is on my new favorites list.
The blooms of American basketflower (Centaurea americana) can be huge, atop 4- to 5-foot-tall stems.
And here’s a white version of American basketflower (Centaurea americana)
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.
A sweet little seed gift from a gardener in France: French catchfly (Silene gallica var. quinquevulnera). The botanical name is bigger than the bloom.
‘Pink Zebra’ ornamental corn (Zea mays): supposed to be 4 to 5 feet tall eventually, but it’s only about 18 inches tall now.
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.

As usual, thank you all for visiting today!

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