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

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pam--My phlox are doing the same thing. I lost many over the winter (weather?, critters?) but was surprised to see some blooming now. Will be grateful for whatever comes along.

    I'm so sorry to hear about Dude. You were so hopeful for the management of the Cushings, and now cancer. Prayers for his comfort and wisdom for you to know when it is time to let him go.


  2. Pam, your garden is so beautiful! I somehow lost my sweet autumn clematis and other things around here are acting strangely this year, too. It's been quite a year....

    My sympathy and prayers for Dude and for you; I can only imagine how hard this time is for you all. What a lovely little pony he is with his sweet little face. I can tell he knows he is loved. What a lucky little one to have had such a wonderful home.

    1. Don't think that is the last you will see of the sweet autumn clematis. Mine came back. Thanks for your kind words about my mini horse, Dude.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Dude. Our pets become a part of us and it is so hard to let them go, but in time we must do what is best for them and I know you will. May your beautiful garden give you comfort at this difficult time.

    1. Thank you. I feel blessed to have had Dude for the last 12-13 years; and the garden is a blessing also.

  4. Pam-I am so sorry to hear the news about Dude. He must know the love that surrounds him with your beautiful family and gardens. Your late summer garden and Monarch Butterfly photos made me smile and hopefully your garden gives you peace.

  5. Thinking of you, as you spend your time tending to Dude.

    Smokebush is a beauty (and I remember the flowers among my favourites)

  6. Pan, I love reading about your garden journey. I didn't get a chance to visit yours this year unfortunately
    this summet. I was very busy with my ill Mom taking her wherever she needed to go, and the Monarchs rather than being in the garden. The over whelming weeds had to be pulled and I was down with bad knees and back, but I hope to be able to pull the weeds once the last of the Monarchs takes flight.
    Out of 64 Monarch Caterpillars, 11 didn't make it. I just found an additional 3 that can only be seen with a magnifying glass. Truly amazing and rewarding.
    I'm so sorry to hear about Dude. Sending prayers to him.
    I hope to see you soon.

  7. Oh Pam, I'm so sorry to hear such sad news about Dude. You know how I've loved to hear about him and Billy Goat on your blog over the years. I do hope that you get lots more time with him yet. Sending you lots of hugs xx

  8. Its also been a strange Summer here Pam. Last year the perennials went on and on. This year with higher temperatures than normal the blooms came to a sudden end. I like the smoke bush, never flowers in this part of the country though. How sorry I am to hear about Dude, I will be thinking about you.

  9. That Smokebush is impressive! I like your Zinnia/Nasturtium combo! I achieve similar results with Zinnias and Cosmos and Mexican Sunflowers. They are such cheerful flowers. Happy September!