It's the first of August. The summer pattern of weather continues, which means hot days, nights that never really cool off much, high humidity, and scattered, hit or miss afternoon thunderstorms. We're also entering the more active period of the hurricane season, so the local weather forecasters always at least mention "the tropics". (We're looking good for the time being.)
I haven't been spending much time outside, lately. Every several days I'll end up pulling weeds for ten or fifteen minutes, but beyond that, I'm mostly just letting things do as they will. It seems too hot to do much else, just now.
For two or three weeks, last month, we were lucky with rain, for the most part, but I may need to water some pots tomorrow. That's the problem with scattered afternoon showers. I'll often put off watering in the morning, because we might get a lot of rain in the afternoon-- but then if the storms don't materialize, I don't want to manually water in the late afternoon, because that's not best for most plants. So I wait until the next morning-- but again there's the temptation to wait until the afternoon, because it might rain today. I believe this is what is referred to as a vicious circle...
Well, enough about the weather.
Here are this month's garden survey photos!
Of note in this first photo:
-- reblooming 'Daisy' gardenia
-- umbrella plant doing well
-- four o'clocks big enough to bloom, but still pretty short/sprawling
These yellow daylilies are reblooming. Once the coreopsis 'Mercury Rising' gets started-- later in the summer than I'd expected-- it stays in flower for a pretty long time. (Probably needs deadheading soon, though.)
Still no flowers on the night-blooming jasmine (I think...), but since I don't love their perfume (and am rarely outside at night, anyway), I honestly don't care. At least it looks nice and healthy.
The 'Mega Punk' celosia has been an continues to be beautiful, but it's beginning to sprawl a bit. So far, it's not too bad, but if it gets very droopy, I might need to stake it away from the path.
The bog sage (to front-right of the chair) has always been a bit "loose-formed", but I think it's getting even looser as the summer wears on. I might consider relocating it-- at least just a little further into the bed. It doesn't really bother me, as it is, but it might be better if the path's a little less encroached upon.
Still no flowers on the pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana), but it has gone through a growth spurt and is of a respectable size, now. Looking forward to the flowers (if they ever come).
Here's the sprawling bog sage from the other side.
You can also see (if you know where to look) the forsythia sage (which is growing, but not huge) and various gingers tucked away in the semi-shade. There are assorted pots hiding out here, too, now. In addition the pineapple lilies, tuberose, and white muhly grass, the "this-year" daylily seedlings now reside in this sun-sheltered part of the garden. I'm trying to acclimate them to gradually brighter sunlight-- and clearing up a little of the covered patio seemed a good idea, too.
This is where the only "east-side" tithonia is planted. It's not bad here, though I'm never completely sure about that red-orange... Does it go with the surrounding flowers or not? I usually end up deciding that anything (except weeds, of course-- I'm not insane) "goes" wherever it's currently growing. It's only an annual, after all. Let it enjoy itself; frost will come soon enough.
See how pretty the 'Mega Punk' celosia is, weaving spires of that rich purply-red through the bed? I do love that plant. I plan to save lots of seed for next year.
Some say that bog sage doesn't need deadheading. Others claim that deadheading will extend bloom-time. I haven't been deadheading, but maybe I should start, though it might be too late for that, now. It shouldn't do any harm, in any case. The trick may be getting out to it before the bees and wasps do.
Another view of the semi-shade area...
There are plans for the area on the right side of this photo. When the weather cools again, I'll be expanding the bed in front of the banana shrub and bamboo. Two (possibly three) small, ornamental trees will go here, I think, and eventually there will be room for small shrubs and herbaceous perennials/annuals, too.
Most of the new foundation shrubs are doing well so far, though the 'Endless Summer' hydrangea isn't in the best shape. I hope that if I can pull it through the rest of the summer, it will fare better next year.
The island bed needs a lot of work, but it will probably wait a while. The foundation planting to the left of the front door is also in need of attention. I have nebulous plans for both areas-- but again, I'm waiting for cooler weather before I put them into action.
Heading back down the path to the western side of the garden...
...Pausing just a moment to look south into the semi-shade garden. From this angle, you can see plants that were more hidden in earlier photos-- 'Golden Angel' Japanese shrub mint, the variegated ginger lily (Alpina zerumbet 'Variegata'), potted tuberose, and a new crinum (supposed to have the "milk and wine"-type flowers). The hydrangea blooms are mostly faded to brown, but they're still hanging on.
Those plain orange daylilies are on their way to the front yard. I've already moved one large clump, but there are more to move. I'll probably try to go ahead and do it before I forget which they are. (Once they've finished blooming, one daylily plant looks much like another.)
As you can see, we haven't yet finished the new arbor, nor have we finished putting all the edging stones back the way they were. It's hard to work up the enthusiasm to do outdoor projects, in July and August.
I planted a few sunflowers, this year, and though they were briefly pretty, it was very brief! Maybe I should've deadheaded them. I'm not sure what you're "supposed" to do with sunflowers, but I'll go ahead and pull up the one flopping in the photo below. If the seedhead looks okay (not moldy), I'll set it somewhere (indoors) to dry. I'm not sure I'll bother planting more next year. I don't seem to have the best luck with sunflowers, which is funny, since they're one of those supposedly no-fail, easiest-ever plants-- aren't they? (Of course, if you wait too long to transplant them, even "easy" plants don't do well... Note to self for next spring!)
Morning glory is swarming over some celosia. It needs better support. I'll have to see what I can find...
It's so frustrating! After all that work digging up the monkey grass and painstakingly pulling out as much of the torpedo grass as I could find, I'm still finding torpedo grass in that part of the flower bed!! I really hate that stuff. Oh well, the monkey grass needed thinning, anyway. I'm trying to pull the torpedo grass as I see it, but it's an endless job. If you are persistent enough, you should eventually be able to kill it by pulling, I guess. I may try digging some of it up again-- see if I can get all the roots this time...
Though I try to limit my use of RoundUp, these days, I would use it on this torpedo grass, if it were easier to apply, but when it's in the flower beds, that's a tricky, risky prospect. I don't want it getting on my good plants!
The unknown pink shrub roses are tough plants, and they can be very pretty, but when they defoliate-- like the one in the middle of the photo has done-- they leave a less-attractive skeletonized gap in the bed...
Lately, I'm considering what to plant behind them, because there's a pretty big space back there where weeds like to pop up. If there's something nice growing behind them, it won't show so much when they shed their leaves, now and then. Maybe cutting them back a little more severely will help, too... Encourage them to stay leafy closer to the ground...
The annual vines I planted by the rustic obelisk have refused to get going this year. Disappointing, but at least the tithonia (Mexican sunflower) planted next to it has done well and is helping those bare tree trunks to blend into the rest of the landscape.
Salvia 'Pizzazz Purple' is tall, now! (Or at least some of the flower spikes are.) It's still blooming nicely. I've been very happy with it, this year, and hope it will return next year. (I've taken some cuttings, and I think they're taking root.) Still no sign of flowers from the Mexican bush sage-- not since some very early flowers faded away. I think it will bloom again later in the summer, though.
Another angle of the same border...
Looking back the other direction...
Early August doesn't look too bad! There are many more things blooming than I would've guessed, earlier this year.
As much as I love perennials, it's definitely worth a little effort to plant some annuals every year. Many of them bloom all summer long and act as wonderful fillers in between the shorter "shows" of various perennials. I prefer the annuals that are easy to start from seed-- and especially those that come true from seed, so you can save them year after year (and save that money for something else).
This year's stand-out annuals (so far) have been celosia (the spike/"spicata" type) and tithonia (Mexican sunflower). Titonia is a giant (or at least the one I'm growing is-- Tithonia rotundifolia), so it won't fit just anywhere, but on the other hand, it would be great for filling in a large area just for the summer. Celosia is more moderately sized, so it can fill in gaps here, there, and everywhere.
I've had lesser degrees of success with annual vines, but that was partly due to my own slacking off. (I should've planted them out earlier and protected some of them with chicken wire.) My expectations probably need to be lowered slightly, too. Some of the annual vines are picking up steam, now, and may be amazing by late summer.
The sunflowers, as I mentioned before, were only briefly nice-looking. (But it may be that I should've deadheaded them...) Unless I could get them to continue flowering, I wouldn't rely on sunflowers for season-long interest. This year, mine were more of a firework plant-- good for one big "wowser" moment, then fading away into obscurity.
Somewhere in the middle are the cleome. Some are doing very well; others are flopping and already looking tired. Self-sown vinca (Madagascar periwinkle) is nice, wherever it happens to pop up, but it's unpredictable. The same applies to annual coreopsis (most of which has long since withered down for the year).
Next year, I want to plant cosmos and zinnias. I had planned to do so this year, but never got around to it... Maybe my seeds will still be good next year!