Tuesday, July 21, 2015

July Flowers

Our weather continues to be hotter than usual (even for this time of year), and for the past several days, the spotty afternoon showers have found us more often than not.  I appreciate not having to water things by hand.  Less helpful is the lightning that necessitates the unplugging of electronics. 

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A good handful of the seed-grown purple coneflowers have survived so far, this year.  Some are blooming.  I'm not sure if this is the normal bloom-time for coneflowers, this far south.  I suspect that established plants probably would've begun blooming quite a bit earlier than these did, but I wonder whether they'd have stopped (or at least slowed) flowering by now. 

I'm grateful for each one and hope they'll multiply in years to come.  I may try to save some seeds, later in the year, and start new plants to help along the process. 

Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

The purple rose of Sharon is still flowering its little heart out.  It's definitely a more prolific bloomer than the all-white variety (this year, at least). 

Rose of Sharon

Those big flowers attract a lot of bees and butterflies.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

The Spanish flag (also known as mina lobata or exotic love vine) is still looking lush.  No sign of flowers, yet.  If you look closely at the second photo up from this paragraph, you'll notice that there's some mina lobata trailing its way through the rose of Sharon, too. 

Spanish Flag - Mina Lobata

The 'Little Gem' magnolia had a nice flush of bloom a week or so ago.  Those flowers are gone, now, but another plant has deigned to make a tiny repeat performance of its own.  The daisy gardenia's rebloom is nowhere near as heavy as the first flower period, but who can complain?!  

Daisy Gardenia

The black-eyed Susan vine is doing its own thing.  I found what I think is a seed pod, so I'll be interested to see, later in the season, whether I can harvest some seeds from this plant.  Of course I'd love to have some free seed for next year. 

The vine I tried to grow in a hanging pot has been less than impressive.  It's still alive, but it's not flowering, and even the foliage is very sparse.  Actually, none of the vines I tried growing in hanging pots have been impressive, including morning glories.  They stay small and hardly flower.  Maybe they're getting too hot and dry between waterings... Next year, I don't think I'll bother planting vines in hanging pots. 

Black-Eyed Susan Vine

I spotted no fewer than three grasshoppers on one section of the viburnum, this morning.  I didn't bother messing with them.  (Unless I were willing/able to catch and squish them, what would be the point?  Chase them off and they'll just come back.)  So long as we don't have an actual plague of locusts, I guess I can spare the grasshoppers a few leaves here and there... And maybe they'll provide food for some songbirds, later on.


I don't mind grasshoppers nearly so much as those hideous leaf-footed bugs (compared to which they are downright cute and cuddly), though I do wish they'd be content to munch on weeds. ;o) 


Earlier this year, Mom gave me a sprig of her "hummingbird mint"-- 'Acapulco Trio' Agastache.  It's supposed to have multicolored blooms in red, orange, and pink/purple (hence the 'Trio').  So far, I haven't seen a ton of bloom, and what I have seen hasn't been distinctly "multicolorful"-- but it's grown well (though still on the short side at 6-8 inches), so I have hopes that it will bloom better in future.   (I see some sneaky gripeweed hiding under it... Time to get out there and weed again.)

Hummingbird Mint

Annual vincas are a good, reliable plant for summer in our garden.  Not the most exciting plant, perhaps, but they flower all summer, and they fill in the gaps very nicely.  For the past couple of years, I've been finding volunteer vincas in the flowerbeds.  Free plants!  Of course, when they're volunteers, you don't get the choose the color.  (So far, we've gotten white-with-red-eye, red-with-white-eye, peach-with-red-eye, and peach-with-white-eye as volunteers.)  One of the benefits of cultivating an eclectic cottage-garden atmosphere is that you need not be fussed about color schemes (unless you want to be).  Anything and everything goes! 

Annual Vinca

One of the more successful seed experiments this year was blue bedder salvia (or sage).  They've taken a while to put on any size, and there are no flowers from them, yet-- but at least several of them have made it so far, and a few are looking pretty good.  (Again, aside from that "no flowers" thing.) 

I haven't been that bothered by the lack of flowers, thinking that as it's a perennial, there's always next summer-- and maybe they take a year to get settled in.  However, now that I'm reading more about them online, it seems that (though the seed pack I bought was labeled "perennial"), they are generally "grown as an annual".  (Le sigh.)  My only consolation is that they are hardy to about 10°F, so unless we have a crazy-cold winter, maybe they'll return in spring.  (There are some reports that even if it comes back, it's not as attractive after the first year.) 

Blue Bedder Salvia

The sweet olive has put out some new, bright-green leaves!  Good boy! ;o)

Sweet Olive

I think every cutting I got from that broken "branch" of the Mexican purple sage (Salvia purpurea) took root.  I gave away a couple of them and planted the rest.  All look happy.  The "mother plant", however, has begun to sag and "fall open".  I'm not sure what's going on.  Is it getting too much rain?  Maybe it just can't support its own weight... The same thing has been happening with some of the marigolds.  The wind from thunderstorms probably isn't helping.  Or are there insects at work?  (I need to give it a closer examination.)

Whatever it is, the plant is still very much alive-- it's just looking kind of messy and past its prime, which is frustrating, since it hasn't even had a chance to bloom, yet.  If this is how this plant always behaves, I think I'll be planting it at the back of a bed, next time.  Maybe against a fence or wall, where it will have some support.  Maybe with a bamboo stake or two for good measure.

Of course, this is assuming that it survives winter.  I'll try to take cuttings, but the thought of keeping cuttings alive over winter intimidates me... I'll try some as in-water cuttings and others as potted cuttings (though I doubt they'll get enough sun from the windows to stay happy). 

...Aha!  I finally found some good info on this plant (and put a link up under the botanical name in an earlier paragraph)-- and here's another page about this plant.  So many search engine results point you to a totally different plant (Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea'), which is hardly helpful! 

It sounds like this "sprawling" and "lax" habit is just natural for the plant.  (Good to know.)  In fact, it's even recommended to place it next to sturdy shrubs that can provide support.  You can cut it by half once or twice in the summer to control its size. 

This plant is apparently also known as "autumn purple sage" and can tolerate some shade.  It's a water-lover that can thrive in damp soil.  (Very interesting... If the winter doesn't kill it, I'd like to try some cuttings down in the wet part of the yard.)

Mexican Purple Sage

Some of the white crepe myrtles are in flower.  So far, not a spectacular show, this year.

White Crepe Myrtle

I'd like to inspect the moonflower vine(s) for seed production.  I want to gather some for next year, and though it's probably too early to collect any yet, I'd like to get a look at the pods.  The wasps are haunting this particular vine, though-- and it's the one that's been blooming the most and has the best chance of providing seed.  The wasps are clearly entranced by the smell of this plant, and I don't dare get too close.  

Wasps on Moonflower Vine

This creepy-crawly has set up shop in the shelter of our back porch. 


The pink climbing rose has been blooming sporadically a few times since the peak spring bloom.  Nothing to write home about, but I appreciate the effort.  Now I've noticed more buds.  I don't know if they'll open in a crescendo, but if they do, it will by far the most impressive rebloom this rose has ever given. 

This unknown rose has been enjoying its best year in a very long time (maybe ever).  I wonder if it's just a fluke-- the result of attaining a certain size/establishment of root-- or if it has something to do with the fertilizer and extra water it's gotten, this summer.  (Poor starved thing; it's probably the fertilizer.)

Climbing Rose Rebloom

A few generic "flower garden" shots:

A few of the rabbit-eaten vines growing along the fence have rebounded.  There's a 'Grandpa Ott's' morning glory here, near the Confederate rose and 'Mercury Rising' coreopsis.  On the other side of the gate and arbor there's a very hearty vine that I suspect must be moonflower.  

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

Flower Garden

Thank you for joining me for another rambling blog post!