Friday, August 31, 2018

The Stars Of My End-of-August Gardens

The stars of my gardens today have to be the abundant monarch butterflies that have returned after many years absence. As always, before the last frost early this year, my indoor seed-starting included zinnias, marigolds, and snapdragons. At the end of May, I transplanted them into the cutting garden that is located in the kitchen garden. I direct-sowed nasturtiums and cosmos at that time. In addition, lots of morning glory and cleome self-seeded from last year. As well as this abundance of brightly colored blooms, the monarchs also enjoy the milkweed growing at the bottom of the kitchen garden. Of course, other types of butterflies and bees continue to visit. It is a joyous year for pollinators.

Zinnias and nasturtium in the cutting garden.

Cosmos was not so successful. I had lots of feathery foliage but only two flowers so far. I thought it was because I fertilized, but local friends tell me they have a similar problem this year. Maybe, it was the lack of sun and too much rain.  

One red blossom and one pink on the feathery cosmos

I've had mixed results with vegetables, but the star has to be my Swiss chard. It's bright-red stalks and healthy leaves are not only beautiful, but nourishing. Tomatoes are ripening, finally, and I still have a few beets and some pole beans.

Top: red beets and swiss chard. Bottom left: tomatoes. Right: pole beans

Abundance Garden needs work; it is an overgrown mess exacerbated by the aforementioned morning glories that are twining around everything. I wont show a picture. Joe pye, however, continues to star there although torrential rains keep beating it down.

Over the cutting garden fence: Joe pye and morning glories

In the main cottage garden, smoke bush has to be the star. It provides proof that foliage is often sufficient; no blooms necessary.


This is proving to be a strange year with flowers blooming at odd times. Phlox 'Bright eyes' is an example: it didn't start to flower until the middle of August. It is peaking now when normally it would be fading.

Phlox 'Bright eyes'

Other plants in the cottage garden are performing as expected: purple cone flower is fading fast, hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' is turning red, cleome is very leggy, and bee balm is almost spent.

Clockwise from top right: Hydrangea 'Pinky winky', bee balm, cleome in front of delphiniums, purple come flower.

Froggy Pond

A reliable perennial that I rarely show you is the heuchera that grows between a rose and a biota in the cottage garden. A shade plant, it is protected from the sun in this location. It bloomed all summer providing an unusual ground cover for a garden that is otherwise in full sun.

Coral bells, heuchera

In the same bed, the sweet autumn clematis is beginning to open its sweet flowers. I was surprised to see it this year as last year it was sickly; I thought I had pulled all of it out. This is the native species that is less invasive. I'm happy to see its return.

Sweet autumn clematis on my favorite wrought-iron trellis.

The shasta daisies are hanging around much longer than usual. Strange year ...

Sweet autumn clematis; the flowers of parsley; shasta daisy

Today, the star of the Horseshoe Garden is the Great blue lobelia. This is another plant that has returned from the grave -- there was no sign of it last year. Amazing.

Great blue lobelia
Daylily 'Lemondrop' having a last fling.

It's no surprise to me that turtlehead is the star of the Serenity Garden at this time of year. I love its abundant pink blooms.

Turtlehead Chelone 'Hot lips'
Serenity Garden

It's been a challenging summer, weatherwise, so I'm happy to show some beauty in my gardens at this time.  Before I close, here is an update on my sweet, sick, miniature horse, Dude. We received very bad news this week when the vet told us that, in addition to Cushing's Disease, Dude has incurable cancer. As long as he isn't suffering, we will keep him comfortable. He is walking and eating well, spending most of his time in the stall with his buddy, Billy Goat. They are inseparable.
Dude with 'deer' friends, with his buddy Billy, and with grandchildren.

Please forgive the lack of botanical names in this posting. I am more often in the stable, and wrote this as quickly as I could, so that I can get back there.

What are the stars of your late-August garden? I would love to know.

Your gardening friend,
Pamela x

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

English Garden Style at the Chicago Botanic Garden

For years I had 'Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden' on my bucket list; I crossed it off last week. In all the years my son and his family lived close by, in Evanston, I never went there. The grandchildren were little and there were more pressing places to take them, such as the aquarium, the circus, Millenium Park, and the Children's Museum. A visit to the city, this time for the 2018 Garden Communicators' Conference, provided the perfect opportunity. When I registered for the conference, I scheduled a free afternoon with the express purpose of going there. I took an Uber with my friend and fellow Brit, Jenny Rose, who decided to accompany with me.  We had limited time, so Jenny Rose suggested we 'do the flower bits' and forego the vegetable garden, dwarf conifers, and bonsai. We started with the Heritage Garden, spent quite a lot of time in the English Walled Garden (go figure), walked around numerous water features, and finally explored the Native Plant Garden.

On our way to the circular space of the Heritage Garden, we passed striking blooms of red rose mallow. I was to see this plant repeated in several other areas. 

Stunning red blooms of Rose Mallow Hibiscus
Rose Mallow Hibiscus

The Heritage Garden

The Heritage Garden

I particularly enjoyed the water feature in the center of the Heritage Garden. Indeed, there were lovely ponds throughout the botanic garden. Here are a few of them:

Top left and bottom right: Heritage garden.

The English Walled Garden

The English walled garden was designed by the renowned English landscape architect John Brookes, who intended a profusion of flowers typically seen in a traditional English country garden. I feel, however, it tends toward a more formal style. Boxwoods are evident. I'm not showing the Checkerboard Garden as the boxwoods were in need of a good pruning. We were surprised that the overall garden maintenance was less than we expected for a pubic garden. I was (nearly) tempted to pull weeds.

One of six unique garden rooms
Surprise lilies Lycoris squamigera were everywhere

Native Plant Garden

The Native Plant Garden is divided into three parts. We visited the mini-prairie-garden part with its sun-loving native Illinois plants. There is a much larger prairie garden in another area that I would like to see one day.

Native Plant Garden
Flowering spurge Euphorbia corollata

Following, I've grouped by color some favorite blooms that I saw that day:

Bottom right, Clematis.

Bottom left: Daylily Hemeracallis 'Autumn Minaret
Bottom right: Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Strawberry™

I love the color of this waterlily. 'Plum Crazy' is a great name

In the physics garden section of the Heritage Garden I was reminded that I didn't plant borage this year, one of my favorite herbs, loved by bees. I love that blue color. Next year ...

Borage Borago officinalis

Blue Glorybower Clerodendrum ugandense

I didn't have my camera with me because the weatherman threatened rain, so the pictures were taken with my iPhone. I have shown a very small part of these magnificent gardens. Now the Chicago Botanic Garden is back on my bucket list for a revisit to see more.

Happy Gardening,
Pamela x

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