Saturday, August 15, 2015

Late Summer Blooms in the Cottage Garden


If early spring is all about 'firsts' -- first snowdrop, first robin, first blossoms on the forsythia -- what is late summer all about? Sadly, I say goodbye to the last daylily, the last hosta bloom, and the last clematis flower. Many of my cottage garden favorites will soon fade, especially shasta daisy, hollyhock, and phlox. But some long-lasting summer blooms refuse to quit and the first of the fall bloomers gear up to delight me. This is the joy of gardening.

The last hosta to bloom in the shade garden.

There are still a few blossoms on my favorite daylily, 'Chicago Apache,' but my equally favorite 'Anita Davis ' has just one flower remaining. Tomorrow there will be none.

'Goodbye, Hermerocallis Anita Davis'
Hermerocallis Chicago Apache will bloom for a few days more.

I'm sad these may be the last blooms on the clematis this year ...

Clematis x jackmanii

... but oh, so happy to see the last Japanese beetle.


Japanese beetles, rampant in July, disappear in August.

The lotus seed pod, the end result of the beautiful flower I featured in a recent posting that you can read here, has an 'other world' look about it. My grandchildren like to shake it to see and hear the seeds rattle.  But it is not the last; I'm happy to find another bud that will open soon. 

Seed pod of Lotus Nelumbo nucifera

Also, in the pond the water canna will bloom again ...

Spiky buds of Canna x generalis (left side of picture)


The hollyhocks were stunning this summer, and a few blooms still remain. One reached the most amazing height ...

This hollyhock must be twelve feet high.

... and for once I'm speechless!

Late summer is not only about 'lasts;' some of my favorite bloomers peak at this time, including agastache, lobelia, and sunflowers -- all bee magnets:

Anise Hyssop Agastache 'Blue Fortune,' behind echinacea

 Can you spot the bee inside the lobelia flower? ...

Great lobelia Lobelia siphilitica commonly called blue cardinal flower.
Great blue lobelia with snapdragons in the Horseshoe Garden.

My sunflowers are very special to me this year as the seeds were given to me by the children of the preschool class where I volunteer during the school year. The label said 'mini sunflowers'. They dominate the kitchen garden -- I think you'll agree the label was wrong.


In addition to the sunflowers, colorful cottage garden flowers on both sides of the kitchen garden fence attract pollinators including, at last, the monarch butterfly. I'm not seeing them in large numbers, but two or three visit every day now.

Roses, rudbeckia, echinacea, obedience, phlox, zinnias, and marigolds

Looking through my window as I write this, I see three monarchs flitting about the butterfly bush. I love their distinctive 'stained glass' wings. Every morning I check the milkweed for monarch caterpillars -- I'm hopeful!

Monarch on milkweed.

One of H.H.'s bird houses on the cottage garden fence contains the wren's latest brood -- probably her last this season.

Mother Wren scolds us as we walk too near to her babies.
I think there are three babies in the nest.

Finally, a late summer 'first.' One of the surprise lilies my friend Katharine gave me bloomed for the first time this morning! The plant has many common names: surprise lily, spider lily, magic lily, resurrection lily, pink flamingo flower, hurricane lily, naked lily and my favorite "nekkid" lady. The leaves grow in spring, whither in summer, and the fragrant flowers pop out of the ground overnight in late summer. A beautiful surprise!

Surprise Lily Lycoris squamigera

 I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, which she graciously hosts on the 15th of each month. Please check out Carol's surprise lilies -- they are very impressive and make me want to plant more.

The late summer garden is gearing up for a magnificent fall. Enjoy!

Pam x


Bougainvillea

'Summer afternoon -- summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.'
                                                              -- Henry James

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gardening With Annuals


I can't think of a better way to provide a dramatic splash of living color than with the simple beauty of colorful annuals! I was honored this week to visit a lovely garden planted almost entirely with annual plants. Each year, Bill Kresge creates a garden from seed to bloom with spectacular results. Like most gardeners, he begins planning for the new garden season during the winter when he peruses the seed catalogs and places his seed orders. He begins sowing flats of seeds in early March, starting with pansies, and cares for them in an impressive greenhouse behind his home. Bill starts approximately 1,200 plants from seed each spring. Back in May, I toured his greenhouse and he showed me his seed-started techniques. I learned a lot.

Bill's greenhouse when I visited in May
Some of the 100+ plants started this year.
Bill is never happier than when working in his greenhouse.

What are annuals? --

Annuals are fun and flamboyant flowering and foliage plants that germinate, grow, flower, produce seed, and die -- all within a single growing season.
-- Lynn Adams, 100 Easy Annuals

Perennials, on the other hand, live for three or more growing seasons and usually have a short blooming period. Bill does grow some perennials, which he also starts from seed. The three or four hibiscus plants of different colors at the front of the house are perennials that he grew from seed ten - twelve years ago.

Hibiscus just beginning to bloom. The pink one is 'Disco Belle Raspberry'
Marigolds and zinnias are among the stars of this garden.
Marigold Targetes erecta 'Gardland Orange' and Marigold 'Lofty Lady'

I must confess I do like the orange and yellow combination -- orange on its own, not so much. The Zinnia 'Zahara' series are impressively resistant to powdery mildew. I put them on my list for next year.

Zinnia 'Double Zahara' and Zinnia 'Zahara Yellow'

I fell in love the stunning rustic color of the coneflower 'Chim Chiminee.'

Coneflower, Rudbeckia hirta 'Chim Chiminee'

Near the front door, a bed of snapdragons gives a cheerful welcome. I admired the fulness of the plants -- my snapdragons don't branch like these. Bill advised me to pinch off the tops of the seedlings by as much as 1/3 to encourage branching. Great advice! I guess I've been too wimpy with my pinching off.


Nearby, the large angel's trumpet with white blooms is just one plant. Bill grew the single dahlias from seed, not tubers.

Clockwise from top: Angel's trumpet Brugmansia, single dahlias, and Angelonia.

I admired the non-climbing Morning Glory for it's pure cobalt blue petals and distinctive markings. Blue is a favorite color of mine in the garden and this beauty is another addition to my list for next year.

Dwarf Morning Glory Convolvulus 'Royal Ensign'

The foundation bed along the greenhouse contains an unusual annual chrysanthemum 'Primrose gem.' They have sweet primrose 'buttons' with a golden eye. Bill ordered the seeds from the Thompson and Morgan catalog 7 years ago. He sowed a portion each year and it is amazing that the seeds were still viable after so long. Unfortunately, he used the last of them this year. Thomson and Morgan, while still functioning in England, seem to have gone out of business here in the U.S.

Chrysanthemum coronarium 'Primrose gem'

There are lots of varieties of zinnias in the bed across from the greenhouse.

Zinnia bed

I needed to touch the velvety cockscomb in one of the foundation beds. I should grow this for my grandchildren who adore lambs ears for that reason. I added it to my list.

Cockscomb celosia cristata

Three more blue favorites of mine ...

Dwarf pincushion flower Scabiosa columbaria 'Blue Note'

The agastache was full of honey bees, but none would stay still long enough for me to photograph them.

Hyssop Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'

Balloon Flower Platycodon grandiflorus 'Komanchi'
At last, I manage to take a photograph of one of the many bees in this garden.

There are many advantages to growing annuals. Here are a few.
Annuals are ...
  • long blooming, flowering early until the first frost.
  • relatively inexpensive.
  • easy to grow with the right site and soil preparation.
  • temporary, so you can change your landscape every year.
  • versatile with many sizes and colors.
Annuals are hard to beat for showy, season-long color. Some are self-seeding meaning you may have new flowers the following year without having to plant them, though not necessarily where you want them. For information on growing annuals click here to read an excellent article from Cornell and here for one from the Arizona Extension.

In conclusion, annuals allow the gardener a chance to experiment with color, height, texture, and form. If you make a mistake it's only for one growing season -- my kind of flower.
Do you grow annuals in your garden?



I've shown only a small sampling of the variety of blooms in Bill's stunning garden and hardly did justice to it. My thanks to Bill and his wife Gale for sharing with me.

Happy Gardening!
Pamela x






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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Lotus Flower



 The pure beauty of the lotus flower holds 
a benign spiritual promise...

The lotus flower has different meanings between cultures: The ancient Egyptians associated it with creation and rebirth; Buddhism and Hinduism see it as a symbol of purity and beauty respectively. One myth describes how, during the time of the Creation, a giant lotus flower grew out of a pond and from it the sun rose. The pink lotus flower is considered sacred within the highest realms of Buddhism as it emerges slowly from dirty, muddy ponds, remaining clean. Egyptians depicted the lotus flower in various works of art, often as a border or held in the hands of a god. It is the national flower of India.

An equatic perennial, the lotus flower should not be confused with the water lily. Unlike the water lily, it only comes in pink hues or white.

Lotus Nelumbo nucifera
One lotus flower is like a 
complete world ...
Author unknown

My lotus flower blooms; I am awed by its beauty.

The pond is at its loveliest today; even the tropical canna sports its exotic flower.

Canna x generalis

The water canna lily, though not a true lily, has high wildlife value. With large, oval shaped, green leaf blades, it can grow over 60 inches tall. The canna has the ability to remove large amounts of nutrient contamination from ponds. Not usually a fan of orange flowers, I love its orange-spattered yellow petals.

The pond enhances the beauty of the cottage garden which is reaching its peak bloom time. Purple cone flowers, campanula, daylilies, yarrow, gooseneck loosestrife, and phlox are full of blossoms. Butterflies and bees are busy.

The main cottage garden border
The border at the edge of the bond -- you can just see the lotus leaves in the center.
A mirror adds depth and gives the herbaceous border another dimension.
Daylilies and snapdragons in the horseshoe garden.

At the entrance to our farm, the butterfly garden has really filled out with liatris, white phlox, purple cone flowers, butterfly weed and cleome.


The first monarch butterfly to visit my garden this year, spent several hours in the butterfly garden with numerous fritillaries for company.


The herbaceous border along the south side of the kitchen garden is a little slower coming to full color. The double red hollyhock in the middle should have reached six feet high, but was pruned by a deer early in the season.


Hollyhock Alcea rosea 'Chater's Double Red'.
Phlox inside the kitchen garden

As always, the shade garden provides a cool retreat from the heat of the day.

Most of the hostas are in flower in the shade garden now.
The miniature/dwarf hostas in some of the fairy gardens bloomed on the day of the garden tour -- so thoughtful of them. I believe I bought the one shown here from Carolyn's Shade Garden several years ago. Check out Carolyn's beautiful blog if you are not familiar with it.

One of my 'Mouse Ears' miniature hostas.


I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day -- a day late I'm afraid. Do check out her July posting for blooms from around the world. Thank you, Carol, for hosting!

We are still experiencing more rainfall than normal, but when the sun shines, like today, it is just perfect. Enjoy!

Pamela x




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