July 24, 2015

Midsummer Lilies and Etc.

Midsummer is lily and daylily season, and above you see giant 'Big Brother' Oriental lilies blooming in my backyard.  They have that wonderful spicy fragrance you get from 'Stargazer' and other Oriental lilies.

I love daylililes, like these double 'Frances Joiner' plants in my front yard.  But the flowers only last one day and then need to be deadheaded to look tidy.  That gets overwhelming, so recently I've been giving away more plants to nearby gardeners.  I'm planning to replace a couple of daylilies in the front yard with nonflowering 'Helen von Stein' Stachys byzantia, whose fuzzy silver leaves will provide interesting texture without any deadheading required.

'Little Lime' (above) and 'Limelight' panicle hydrangeas are blooming profusely, and their long lasting flower clusters will become shaded with pink and then maroon as we progress toward fall.  My 'Annabelle' and pink 'Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangeas have finished an impressive flush of blooms, and 'Tiny Tuff Stuff' is giving a moderate showing.  But the mopheads (Let's Dance 'Big Easy) have just one flower cluster between the six of them.  Even reblooming-type mopheads are a disappointment around here.

Petite 'Kahome' Filipendula is covered with airy sprays of pink flowers right now.  It makes a nice edging plant because it stays smaller than other types of meadow rue.

Even though there aren't many flowers in the northeast corner, I feel pleased with how the design is working.  The arrangement of plants looks balanced.  The forms, textures and shades of green are working well together.

The northwest corner, in contrast, is kind of a mess right now.  So I'm only showing a close up view.  These 'Miss Molly' butterfly bushes (Buddleia) and Russian Sage (Peroskvia) are doing well and attracting cute hummingbirds and butterflies, but other parts of this corner are failing.  The delphiniums aren't getting enough love to keep them healthy and happy, so I'm going to replace them with sturdy Baptisia.  Other plants need to be transplanted, divided, or removed.  I suspect it will take a few more seasons of trial and error before this area comes together.  

The 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert (Corylus avellana) above is my plan for a new focal point plant in the northwest corner.  Right now it's sitting in its pot by the faucet, and I'm trying to remember to water it daily until I can transplant the roses in fall and get this plant into the ground.  Its corkscrew branches will be lovely all winter, and the maroon leaves (which turn greener in summer) will be pretty for much longer than the few weeks that the roses are in bloom.  At least, that's the plan.  We'll see how it turns out after a few years.

July 14, 2015

Rosy 'Medallion' Poppy

'Medallion' poppies (Papaver) bloomed last month with tissue paper petals in an interesting shade of rosy-mauve.

Because I have them growing right next to a large shrub ('Black Lace' elderberry/Sambucus in the background), they only get light from one side.  This caused them to lean toward the light and flop over, but I used a peony cage to hold them up.

The petals on each flower faded over a week or so to the pale shade you see above at right.  Then petals dropped to reveal interesting seed pods (above left).

Black splotches are revealed when looking down from above, plus those frilly centers.  My 3-year old son kept asking me "What's in the middle of the puppies?"

After blooming for a few weeks, the flowers faded and the foliage started looking tattered, so I cut it back to the ground to encourage a fresh mound of leaves.  Not every plant appreciates this treatment, but poppies are one of them along with salvia, delphinium, columbine and astrantia.

Speaking of astrantia, 'Roma' astrantia in the foreground above blended beautifully with the color of the poppies.  I'm glad fellow blogger Liz introduced me to this plant, as it's my favorite astrantia now.

I'll end with this final shot of a poppy lit by the setting sun.
In other garden news, we survived the heat wave that lasted a couple of weeks with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.   Many plants looked a little crispy around the edges by the end, but now highs have sunk down to the 80's, with nighttime lows in the 50's, so the plants (and gardener) should start to recover.

July 4, 2015

Ethereal Flowers and Giant Leaves on Crambe cordifolia

After a few seasons of maturing, Crambe cordifolia (aka Colewort) bloomed for me for the first time this spring.  In the photo above it is at the left.

In early spring these interesting maroon-green leaves sprouted and just kept growing and growing.  The large, dark leaves provide a nice contrast in texture to other plants in the garden.

In mid-spring a single giant bloom stalk began to emerge from the base.  It took several weeks of growing before it reached six feet tall.  Eventually this dramatic plant can grow to eight feet in height.

In May the tiny flowers opened to create an ethereal cloud of white above the visually heavy leaves.

This plant grows in full sun to part shade and is relatively low maintenance, though it can reseed if not deadheaded.  Of course deadheading the entire stalk takes just one snip, so it's very easy.

After the flowers finish, the leaves continue to have a worthy presence in my white garden.  Unlike large rhubarb leaves, which decline dramatically in the heat of summer, these leaves remain sturdy throughout the season.  They do have some holes from slugs or something, but that could be prevented by spreading iron phosphate early in the season.  I don't recall the fall color, so it must not be showy.

This is not a common garden plant but is well worth a place if you live in zone 4-9.