This time of year, it's a struggle to motivate myself to do anything at all outside. High heat and humidity combine in devilish alchemy-- or in other words, it's too darn hot.
Of course, while the gardener's away, the weeds will play. They certainly have no problem with the weather! They're thriving!
Nothing for it but to go out in it, every so often, despite the discomfort.
Saturday morning, Donald and I worked on another section of the pathway, and today I took a few photos, pulled a (very) few weeds, and watered the plants most in need of consistent moisture.
I'm a little surprised by the number of things in bloom, this last week of July. Not to suggest that my garden is a paradise of flowers-- plenty of room for improvement-- but it's not so sparse as I might have feared.
The annuals are of course hard at work. This year our main flowering annuals are vinca, marigolds, begonias, and morning glory-- plus the one successful black-eyed Susan vine. There are a few self-sown cleome, zinnias, and cosmos, too.
A few daylilies bloom sporadically, including this one in pale yellow.
The purple rose of Sharon still can't be stopped. This one flower was being shared by three butterflies at the same time!
More and more of the crepe myrtles are flowering. Even 'Victor' still has some color, though I think it's finally near the end of its bloom. The watermelon reds are peaking.
Another spike of the orange and yellow gladiolus has made an appearance.
Then there are the roses. The old-fashioned pink shrub roses bloom a little now and then, as does the pink climbing rose. The KnockOut roses come in waves. Even the "too-red" rose that was so cruelly transplanted in the hot summertime has made a supreme effort and put out another flush of bloom.
The purple coneflowers may have taken a while to get started, but now that they're here, they're persistent. The fancy coneflowers are still in bloom, too. (Not pictured.) I wouldn't say they're thriving, but at least they're still there.
Some of these coneflowers are well past their prime. I can't decide if I should deadhead them now or leave them for later. I'd like to collect some seed, but I'm not sure how coneflowers "work". Are the seeds "ready" now? If I cut these off and let them dry indoors, will the seeds be viable, or do they need more time on the plant? If I deadhead, will more blooms follow, or will I just ruin all chances for harvesting seed this year? More reading to do...
Some of the azaleas along the front fence have put out new flowers. (I didn't remember that those particular ones did that.)
Then there are a few blanket flowers... a smattering of leftover gaura bloom... a couple of salvias (mainly 'Victoria Blue', but also a little on the Salvia nemorosa)... lantana... hummingbird sage (and maybe hummingbird mint)... coreopsis (mainly 'Golden Sphere' and 'Mercury Rising')... a few daisy gardenia blooms... fading achillea... a past-prime flower on the new 'Endless Summer' hydrangea... butterfly ginger still perfumes the air (if you're close enough)... and the petite butterfly bush continues to flower.
Any plant with interesting foliage is a real help, this time of year, too.
For instance, the elephant ears have won me over. They were chosen not because I absolutely loved elephant ears, but because they were cheap and would help fill up the flower garden. Also, I chose them because I associate them with my maternal grandmother's garden.
As the months have passed, I've found myself growing fonder of them for their own sake. Though I still wouldn't say that elephant ears are among my very favorite plants, I have a new appreciation for them. Those giant leaves have a lot of personality!
Later this year or next spring, I'd like to transplant a little of the darker elephant ears growing in Granny's garden into my own. (She gave me a piece, years ago, but I didn't really know what I was doing, back then. I think I'll have better luck this time.)
I'm also enjoying the ornamental grasses we purchased this year. (Those would be river oats and a couple types of Japanese sedge-- 'Evergold' and 'Everillo'.) I'm excited about the possibility of adding another few grasses to the flower beds-- nothing invasive, I hope, but something to add multi-seasonal interest.
Oh! And the bamboo!
I need to try to get a good photo of it, to show how much it's grown since I planted it. (It's not the easiest plant to photograph.) I think I might transplant it, this fall or winter. It could probably use a little more room to grow, and if I expand that part of the flower bed (as planned) its screening properties might be put to better use a little further out to the east.
I'm looking forward to more moderate temperatures toward the end of summer, but in the meantime, I guess this is a good chance to fine-tune these plans.