Monday, July 25, 2016

High Summer

Is it "high summer" in the South, now?  Of course, weather varies year to year, but there are trends and patterns, and this is the kind of thing I tend to forget.  When, exactly, does our summer heat peak-- on average?  July and August must be the hottest months, but as for which weeks are worst...

Then there's September, which we like to think of as the beginning of autumn, but around here, it's still pretty darn hot for much of the month.  By late September, though, there should at least be a perceptible change in the air as the worst of the heat and humidity fade away.  October is usually dry, and we get our first taste of real autumnal weather.  (Just typing the word "October" makes me smile. There's something magical about October.  One of the very best times of the year.)

I'm trying not to get ahead of the calendar, here, but toward the end of July, it's easy to begin fantasizing about cooler weather.  Sure, there's still all of August to get through, and we're really just fooling ourselves if we pretend that early September means autumn, but we do what we must to get through the dog days of summer!  Sometimes self-delusion helps!

In any case, it certainly feels like the highest of high summer to me, so I'm tempted to stay inside as much as possible.  However, I ought to spend a little more time outside in the cooler times of the day, enjoying the many flowers that are blooming.  (I'm surprised how many there are.  I still have this mental image of July and August as being so hot and miserable that the flowers cease to bloom and everything goes into a sort of summer hibernation.  Not so; many plants are coping very well.  They like the heat better than I do, fortunately.)

- - - - - - -

Along the east side of the covered patio, many of the "permanently potted" plants are hidden by the pot ghetto.  This is something to address next year.  Maybe I can find another spot for my pot ghetto, if I can't altogether avoid having one to begin with!

Speaking of the pot ghetto, Eucomis 'Twinkle Stars' is finally, finally showing signs of life!!  It's actually growing a little.  (I know; I can't believe it, either.  I'd decided it was going to just sit there all year.)



English ivy.

English Ivy

Hydrangea bloom under covered patio.
In the background, there's a glimpse of a plant that's waiting for cooler weather-- a Black Diamond 'Pure White' crepe myrtle from Aunt Cathy.

Hydrangea Under the Covered Patio

Another hydrangea bloom on the same bush.  (Amazing how different the flowers on one shrub can look-- especially when one is much older than the other.)

Hydrangea Under the Covered Patio

Lots of pink and purple in the garden right now.
On the left, 'Victor' crepe myrtle.  In the middle, 'Mega Punk' celosia.  In the back, there's the night-blooming jasmine (still not in flower, as far as I know), some sunburned elephant ears, and purple heart.  In the front, the sword-like foliage (and out-of-focus white flower) is from the peacock orchid I featured in a blog post earlier this month.

Flower Garden

Here's the same scene, framed to show purple coneflower and more purple heart in the foreground.

Flower Garden

The 'Mega Punk' celosia is starting to show more red/purple in its leaves.

Celosia 'Mega Punk'

Celosia 'Mega Punk'

Celosia 'Mega Punk'

'Lady Margaret' passionflower bud.

'Lady Margaret' Passionflower Bud

Green lynx on the highly-textured leaves of forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis).

Green Lynx

Unknown insect on celosia.  (Some type of wasp, I think.)

Insect on Celosia

Lots of buds on the pale-pink-flowered rose of Sharon.  The closed buds are pretty, though they look like they'd open into a much darker pink flower than the very pale reality.  Just goes to show you can't always use bud color to predict flower color.

Rose of Sharon Buds

After losing many four-o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) seedlings, I have three plants that are still small, but "blooming size".  One is the hot-pink/magenta that I think of as the traditional color.  Another is red, and the third is yellow.  I've yet to happen upon them when they're open, because I'm usually only outside in the morning. That's one of the reasons I've never loved four-o'clocks.  The flowers seem to be open for such a short period of time... We'll see how these do (and whether or not they manage to grow on me).

Yellow-Flowered Four O'Clocks

The common ditch lily. ;o)
One thing I can say in favor of the orange day lily is that they seem to bloom much later than most of the "fancier" daylilies in my garden.  And really, common as they are, they are pretty-- especially if you like orange flowers.  But I still plan to dig them up and move them away from the other daylilies, somewhere where they can be as pushy and prolific as they like, without fear of crowding out the hybrids.

Orange Daylilies

Speaking of daylilies, there are a handful of the hybrids that are still flowering, off and on.  This ruffly pink one is tough and pretty, though I don't know that it goes well with the red-hot bat-face cuphea in the background... (g)  This is the kind of thing I ought to mark and move later on, but I just may be too lazy to bother, for the time being.  And maybe the color combo is better than I think!  It might be the next big thing, for all I know.

Daylily and Bat-Face Cuphea

Here's another stalwart daylily that's re-blooming in mid-to-late July.  (There are at least a few more, but I have no photos of them, this time.)  The raspberry-pink/red shading is particularly nice.


I moved this crinum earlier this summer, because it was in the wrong place (where I wanted to plant something else).  I'm surprised it went ahead and bloomed, anyway.  A sulk was only to be expected, and here it goes and blooms so prettily!

(Funny how the anthers are white on some flowers and black on others... I've noticed that before, but never looked closely enough to see what's going on.  It's clearly related to how long the flower's been open.  Maybe the dark ones are still closed, and the white ones are open, with pollen showing...)

Crinum Lily

Another crinum growing with the unknown pink shrub rose and dwarf butterfly bush.

Crinum and Roses

Rudbeckia 'Autumn Sun' is new to the garden this year.  It can be a very tall plant-- anywhere from five to well over seven feet tall-- but mine seems on the short side (not sure exactly how tall... maybe 4 to 4.5 feet?).  It might get taller next year, or maybe it needs different treatment than I've given it, this year...  I wouldn't mind it being a little taller, but at least it's still alive-- and about to bloom!  Such cute beginnings of flowers, too.  They look like yellow-green strawberries.

Rudbeckia 'Autumn Sun'

'Blue Bedder' sage in front of coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'.

'Blue Bedder' Sage and 'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

This is a real "little of everything" view!  In the back, the towering tithonia (Mexican sunflower).  In front of that, the unknown pink shrub rose.  Not blooming yet, but very much in evidence, are swamp sunflower (Angustifolius) and Salvia purpurea (Mexican purple sage).  You can just glimpse 'Pizzazz Purple' sage in between white cleome and the pink Knock Out rose, and there's some pink-purple celosia in front.

Maybe the orange doesn't really go with the other colors, by popular opinion-- especially that hot orange and the cool pink of the rose on the left-- but I can convince myself that I like it.  (g)  Orange and pink together have a 60's/70's vintage fabric feeling.  The tithonia is only an annual, anyway.  It can go somewhere else, next year.  (Not sure where, though.  That's a big plant, for an annual!)

Flower Garden



Purple dwarf butterfly bush on the left.  Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' in the back middle, with (shabby-looking) blanket flower in front.  The new blanket flower plants are taking a while to come into their own, this year.

Flower Garden

'Pizzazz Purple' salvia with tithonia in the back.  (Mexican bush sage, not blooming, is in between.)

'Pizzazz Purple' Salvia and Tithonia

Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'.

Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'

My tiger lilies are so short, this year, compared to last.  I'm not sure what's changed.  Is it a reflection of a change in the weather or of something I've done differently?  I may try moving them before spring-- especially since I'm planning to do some major work on this flower bed, anyway.  Not sure where they'll go instead, but I'll find a spot for them somewhere.  Even though they're shorter this year, the flowers are still striking.

Tiger Lily

What exotic flowers!  Look at that dark red pollen!

Tiger Lily

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

(Almost Entirely) Flowers in July

Last year, Mom gave me a few cuttings of one of Granny W.'s roses of Sharon.  I rooted them in water, then potted them up.  I think only two survived-- at least I ended up planting two of them.

They looked like such tiny things when they went in the ground, but they're growing quickly!  "Shrub althea", as they are sometimes called, are very easy plants, though you might not guess it from their beautiful flowers, which look worthy of a much pickier garden prima donna.

The blooms of these new roses of Sharon are palest pink and very double.

Rose of Sharon

The established purple-with-red-center is doing its thing, too, as is the one with single all-white flowers.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

The double purple has yet to bloom, this year, and the double mauve-rose only gave us that one flower, earlier in the season.  They probably need more time to adjust-- but that makes it all the more impressive that the tiny ones grown from last-year's cuttings are already flowering!

Rose of Sharon

The crepe myrtles are also in flower.  I think the most prolific bloomer in our garden is this watermelon-pink on the corner of the house.

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

While the other hydrangeas have long since passed peak bloom, the new 'Little Lime' near the front door just recently started.  It's still a small shrub, and the flowers are not huge, but they're pretty and fresh-looking.  The mid-summer bloom adds interest after some of the other flowering shrubs have finished their show.

'Little Lime' Hydrangea

'Little Lime' Hydrangea

'Little Lime' Hydrangea

Bat-face cuphea.  This is one of the plants I've seen attracting the hummingbirds.

Bat-Face Cuphea

Butterflies like it, too.  I think this is a pearl crescent butterfly.  I don't recall seeing one before, but evidently they're not uncommon.  Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention!

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Pearl Crescent Butterfly

I've mentioned this plant a few times before.  It came to me as "confederate jasmine", but when I looked up confederate jasmine, the photos looked nothing like this mystery plant.  Still, I kept it on the chance that it would have similarly nice flowers, at some point.

Well, it finally bloomed, this summer.  Unless I'm mistaken (which I doubt), it's Euonymous fortunei, common name "wintercreeper".  The name sounds rather pleasantly eerie, but the plant itself... Well, it doesn't seem to be much to write home about.  It's evergreen; I guess that's nice... The flowers, however, are tiny and insignificant.  As if to underscore the disappointment, there was a fly on the flower when I finally found it (after looking pretty closely to even see it).  Some euonymous have interesting red seeds, but because the plant has such a reputation for being invasive, I'm not even sure I'm interested in keeping it anywhere.  It will certainly not stay where it is.  Too bad!


I think this may be a 'Picasso' canna lily.  A little garish, isn't it?

'Picasso' Canna (?)

Not sure on the ID for this one... It's a softer, milder red than some of the other fire-engine red ones we have.

Canna Lily

The pale pink crinums have begun to bloom this month, and they're doing well, considering that I moved them last year.  I've read that crinums don't really like being moved.  Oh, they'll be fine-- remember, "no crinum has ever died"-- but they might sulk for a while, because they really prefer to be a little crowded and left in one spot for years at a time.  Anyway, these are blooming pretty nicely.
No flowers yet from the new-this-year crinum, but that seems reasonable.  If not this year, maybe next year.

Crinum Lily

Polka-dot plant and asparagus fern.

Polka-Dot Plant and Asparagus Fern

Purple coneflower.

Purple Coneflower

We have some of the tiniest little baby green anoles, this year.  I don't think I've ever seen so many of these little ones, before.  They look so fragile-- the head too big for the body...

I really enjoy our various skinks and lizards.  They add a lot of life to the garden.

Tiny Green Anole

Celosia 'Mega Punk'.
Is it my imagination, or is the foliage starting to darken and "purple up" a bit more?  Spiky celosia is a definite success story, this year-- both this variety and the others, though I think this type is my favorite.  I'll be saving lots of seed for next season (and to share, if I can find any takers).


Bog sage, with crepe myrtle in the background.

Bog Sage and Crepe Myrtle

Wasp on bog sage.

Wasp on Bog Sage

Some insect on peacock orchid.

Peacock Orchid

Dewdrops on the "too-red" rose.  (Though it no longer seems too red, with some of the other crazy-bright colors now in the same area!)

"Too-Red" Rose

White cleome.


Cleome and celosia.

Cleome and Celosia

Purple cleome.


Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'.

'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

It seems like the flowers start out a dark burgundy then gradually fade to the more "frosted" appearance you see in these photos.  Some start out more frosted from the very beginning.  (Or at least, this is what I've seen in my flowers, this year.  Maybe the weather and relative harshness of the sun makes a difference.)

'Mercury Rising' Coreopsis

More of the butterfly ginger have begun to flower.  It's so easy to grow (in our area, at least), and the sweet perfume is amazing!  When the weather's right, it can carry far.

Butterfly Ginger

Remember I said a couple posts back that the river oats were loaded down with seed?  Here are a couple of photos.

River Oats

River Oats

Time for the final subject.
I've taken far too many photos of the Mexican sunflower, but those bright oranges refuse to be ignored.  They demand attention.  (The bees and butterflies are happy to oblige!)