Saturday, November 1, 2014

Remember August? The Flower Garden in August

Apparently my philosophy is “better late than never” since I am notorious for being behind on posting my monthly garden summaries. I had posted pics of my kitchen garden in August, but not my flower garden. So here it goes...hopefully I can remember what was going on in the garden almost three months ago!

I think that end of July / beginning of August was actually the best time of the year for the flower garden this year. Here you can see catmint, roses, white David phlox, white butterfly bush, purple coneflowers, hydrangeas, and Black-Eyed Susans...

A couple of different hydrangeas, purple butterfly bush and Black-Eyed Susans here, however, the Susans didn’t do as well this year. Second year in a row, actually. This part of the garden is usually a mass of Susans. More on this later in this post.

Black-Eyed Susans, hydrangeas, white butterfly bush, purple coneflowers, white phlox again.

Joe-Pye Weed, purple coneflowers, white butterfly bush, white David phlox, roses, catmint, Million Gold Melampodium.

This hydrangea was actually here when we moved in, however, it was a wee little thing. Now it is a big, gorgeous highlight of the flower garden in July/August. I absolutely love it.

Here is the same hydrangea from the back. This was taken not long after I had finished the path back here. I am so happy with how the Christmas ferns and hostas have filled in. The hostas were rescued from the overgrown mess that was the other side of the back yard at one point. I wasn’t sure they would survive in this area, which is a mass of tree roots and very shady. The Christmas ferns were added on a whim and have done amazingly well the past couple of years.

This is the only other hydrangea that bloomed for me this year. It was a very bad year for hydrangeas in this area and the only thing I can think to blame it on is the incredibly long, cold winter we had. Everyone I talked to this year said their hydrangeas didn’t bloom this year.

The purple coneflowers and Joe-Pye Weed bring the bees and butterflies in droves. Once the purple coneflowers dried out and went to seed, which was late August, the goldfinches appeared, as always. They love the seeds.

This Joe-Pye Weed popped up like its name implies in a spot that I didn’t plant it. Purple coneflowers, White butterfly bush, and Agastache Blue Fortune are also in this shot. All of these plants are dependable workhorses in the flower garden each year. I ended up cutting out this unintended Joe-Pye Weed because it was blocking my view of the bird feeder from the back porch. I MUST be able to watch the birds when I drink my coffee on the back porch on summer mornings!

I am a big fan of the Black and Blue Salvia, but I really didn’t plant it in a great place and you never really notice it unless you are up close. The flowers are one of my favorite colors and I love the contrast of the dark stems and the bright green leaves. The hummingbirds like this plant, too.

I do not plant a lot of annuals in my flower garden, but Melampodium is one of the exceptions. I plant some variety of this annual every year because it has proven to be a reliable constant bloomer. It always looks its best in the late summer and fall. The trick is to keep it hydrated. I have two sections of these annuals and you can definitely tell the difference between the ones that were watered more and the ones that weren’t. Water makes them taller and fuller. This variety is called Million Gold. The dark leaves behind it are the Weigela. I honestly can’t remember if this is Midnight Wine Weigela or Wine and Roses Weigela. I thought I had planted the smaller of the two, which is Midnight Wine, however, it seems too big for that.

This is a new annual that I introduced this year as a ground cover in the front of the bed. I never expected it to do so well! It really spread and had a constant succession of blooms all summer. It is called portulaca grandiflora ‘Double Sunset Fire’. I had gotten it at the Unusual Tropical and Annuals Sale at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in PA in May. The bright magenta center with ring of yellow petals around it were a stand-out in the garden this year. They clearly like a sunny spot. They would shut their flowers at night and on cloudy days, as if they were too shy to show their faces when it wasn’t bright and warm. This would be a great choice for a rock garden.

Onto the vines. The morning glory vine takes over the arbor in the summer. The hummingbirds like the flowers.

This vine decided to mingle with the blue Plumbago ground cover.

The hop vine that grows up the shed was outstanding this year. It was literally covered in hop cones in August.

Maybe one of these years Brian will actually use the hops in his brewing. They make an interesting ornamental vine, though.

A newbie to the garden, a Passion Flower vine. I adore Passion Flowers due to their unusual appearance. It is a tropical vine, however, this variety of Maypop is supposed to be hardy to this area. We will find out!

Here is what is left of my sorry-looking Black-Eyed Susans. I have had these ever since I started planting this garden and they are usually a highlight in late summer. Not so this year and last. They clearly have a disease and also seemed to have white flies, or something like that. I sprayed it with an organic spray, but that didn’t seem to help at all.

The leaves were covered in black spot, or something similar. I should’ve taken a sample in a zip-locked baggie to my local garden center to see if they could offer any suggestions, but never got around to it.

Another plant that suffered this year was my purple smokebush. I seem to recall it had a problem in late summer last year, as well. The leaves started to wilt and then would dry out and fall off. Very sad. Yet again I meant to try to find out what was going on, but never got around to it.

The other side of yard has started to fill in. This is the side that was an overgrown mess a couple of years ago. I paid a landscaper to clear out the mess, then I created the beds and added plants. Some plants that I kept from the overgrown mess: the tree seen in the front, of course, a Miscanthus grass, and the tree wisteria. Everything else was planted by me. I was lucky enough to find the same kind of stone edging that surrounds the flower garden on the other side.

The section up against the screened-in back porch was all gravel and impossible to plant anything in. My solution was to use pots. I have three shorter pots of boxwood and two taller pots that I change out each year. This year I used elephant ears and bright yellow/green creeping Goldilocks Lysimachia. I had hoped the elephant ears would get really big, but I guess the pots constricted their size. Plants in front include oregano, sedum, thyme and sage. I like having herbs right by the back door for easy access when cooking.

Speaking of herbs, here are more by the back door: lots and lots of mint (used mostly for my iced tea and mojitos!), as well as lemon verbena.

The white Spiranthes Ladies’ Tresses bloomed prolifically in August and September in my two bog pots by the back porch. Interestingly enough, I also got a flower on one of my Pitcher Plants in August. That doesn’t usually happen this time of the year. Often they bloom late winter in the greenhouse.

So this “better late than never” girl will try to get September and October pictures up that it’s almost November. Sigh...November. That means the end of the garden for the year. Frost is threatening and it is time to bring the precious potted plants into the greenhouse – something I have meant to do the past couple of weekends, but got too bogged down with homework for my web design class that I take at night. I MUST get them in this weekend. Supposed to go down to 34 degrees at night!

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