Monday, August 27, 2018

Random Chatter for my August Garden

If it's August, we know to expect heat. We can also expect the garden to start fading as it goes past its peak. I wish I could figure out how to maintain the fresh green look of July. Instead I'm fighting every possible insect for mastery over the garden. But I'm able to hide it fairly well with the exuberance of my plantings.

I thought that I might skip showing you my endless butterfly photos this month, but then I laughed at myself. "Be serious Robin! You know that butterflies are your favorites." In case you haven't guessed, I've continued to raise monarchs inside the house. It's been a banner year for them, and you'd be able to tell by just how many monarch photos I have in my files. I'll ultimately release around 50 this year. For me, that is a considerable amount, especially considering just how small my milkweed patch is. I've actually raised a couple of swallowtails too, and even though they are beautiful, they just don't generate the same enthusiasm for me.

Do you like hydrangeas in the garden? Well, who doesn't? I often hear gardeners complain that their hydrangea doesn't bloom anymore. You might want to consider replacing that non-bloomer with one of the newer varieties. This Little Quickfire hydrangea was given to me by Proven Winners for a trial a few years ago, and it has more than surpassed my expectations. It blooms non-stop, starting out white, then fading to this softer pink color, then finishing off dark pink in the fall. It also makes an excellent cut flower. You can even dry them to preserve the beautiful blooms. In the top photo below, you'll see a green blob behind the Little Quickfire. That's my Endless Summer hydrangea, who puts out less than one quarter of the flowers. The bottom hydrangea photo is Little Lime. I do love it, but so far it isn't the showstopper of its neighbor. But it is a few years younger, so perhaps it will catch up.

Here are a few more of my plant recommendations to consider. Keep in mind that my garden is quite bright and sunny, so most of these selections do better in full sun. Below you will see the exuberant purslane/portulaca. This premium annual will bloom on and on all summer long with no added water. The flowers themselves are especially bright and stunning. Keep in mind that they fold up later in the day, only to reopen the next day. The fact that they close up in the evening has shown me that I shouldn't plant them singly like this, as my container is boring at the end of the day. Next time, I think I'll combine them with lantana to combat this problem.

As mentioned above, lantana is also great for full sun, with endless blooms that don't close up at night. Butterflies and hummingbirds love it! It's also a premium annual, but worth a few dollars for non-stop blooms.

Caladiums are for shade, and an annual in Ohio. They love the heat, so don't bother planting them until early June. They will then reward you with quick growth. This pot holds just a few bulbs, yet it's packed with color.

Do you grow Millennium alliums? You don't buy them in bulb form like traditional alliums, but as plants. Although they are shorter, they do rebloom throughout the summer. Pollinators love them.

I'd call mandevilla a premium, premium annual. They usually run around $20 to $30 for a big pot full. But this one is definitely worth it. No deadheading is needed, and it blooms endlessly. Not to mention, they are drop dead gorgeous!

I found a couple of strange flowers this year, and a friend tells me that it comes from a virus spread by insects. It has given the affected flowers a strange and odd beauty, and each bloom seems to last much longer than the more normal flowers of the same type.

 The dahlias are starting to bloom, which is a good thing late in the summer when other parts of the garden are giving up. There's just something stunning about a big, blowsy dahlia flower that makes me say wow.

After several years of trying to find an umbrella planter to suit me, I finally found this one at the Monticello Shop. I love it! But I didn't want to water it twice a day, so I filled it with succulents instead of flowers. This combination is nice, but it doesn't have that wow factor. I'll have to give some thought over the winter on how to make a more stunning combination for next summer. The planter itself is a winner though. I'm also pleased with my idea to put a few of favorite beach rocks around the base of it.

We grow vegetables every year, but we've never grown cantaloupe. Technically, we didn't grow cantaloupe this year either. But apparently the cantaloupe seeds in our compost survived the winter. The amazing part is that this didn't get weeded away, but its similarity to cucumbers assured its survival. I'm excited to taste it.

Resurrection lilies are one of those passalong plants that many of us have in our gardens. That's exactly how I got mine, as a matter of fact. They have the most unique coloring, both pink and blue at once. I wish the blooms lasted longer.

This exuberant area of my garden has always been called Butterfly Corner. Since I gave it this name,  almost my entire yard has become devoted to my beloved butterflies. But the moniker here remains. It's a chaotic mess for the most part. But it is generally full of flowers, despite the mess. I occasionally try to tame it, with little success.

The photos below are just garden eye candy to me.

I'll end as usual with a few Ohio sunsets. Thanks for stopping by Robin's Nest! I'm so glad to share my little garden corner with you.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Butterfly Season

How many times have I said that any given my month is my favorite in the garden? Well, now I'm going to say that July is my favorite, because it's butterfly season!

Monarch butterfly

Black swallowtail

Tiger swallowtail

Robin's Nest is a sunny, sunny spot, which has been ideal for butterfly gardening. Butterflies are ectotherms, which means they can't generate their own heat, but instead need to gather it from their environment. That's why they prefer sunny gardens. And that's good news for me.

Common wood nymph

Monarch butterfly

8 spotted forester moth

Viceroy butterfly-NOT monarch

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Blue azure butterfly

Celery looper moth

Hubby has begun to call me The Crazy Butterfly Lady. That's okay, it's a moniker that I wear with pride. I love them all, but it's the monarch butterflies that are my true favorites. Last month, I featured a monarch here on my blog that I had raised and later released. Since then, I've raised quite a few more. Suddenly, the monarch mamas have discovered my little milkweed patch, leaving me tiny egg presents regularly. I can't resist bringing them inside for raising. I don't have any illusions about saving the monarch population with my efforts, I simply find the whole process fascinating to watch.

However, butterflies aren't the only beauties to be seen here. Roses are not generally at their peak in July, but they do put out blooms now and then.

Abraham Darby rose

Fourth of July rose

Chinatown rose

Funny Face rose

Don Juan rose

At Last rose

Perennials are the backbone of most gardens, and give me some flash here and there.

Unknown lily

Girosa lily

Button bush

Karly Rose grass with coneflowers

Unknown bee balm

Front shade garden

Duchess of Albany clematis


Cherry Cheesecake hibiscus

Sunset hyssop

But annuals are the real stars here in mid summer.

Cut and Come Again zinnias

Bachelors buttons

Cut and Come Again zinnias

Unknown sedum

Verbena bonariensis

Tequila Lime zinnia



Alaska nasturtiums

Dazzling Magic dahlia

I could argue that sunflowers are the queen of annuals. As much as I love sunflowers, the goldfinches tear them up as they devour the seeds. I forgive them for that. How could you not? I just love how they match the petals. And when they hang upside down to reach the juiciest seeds, it really makes me smile.

I will give short shrift to the biggest problem in my garden for 2018, which was the dreaded Japanese beetle invasion. They were horrendous this year! So if you see any holes in the flowers in these photos, try to look the other way. Since I am a butterfly gardener, I choose not to use any pesticides in Robin's Nest. Instead, I knock the stinkers into a cup of soapy water. I was making two or three rounds daily, sending hundreds and hundreds to their doom eventually, and still barely made a dent in the damage they inflicted. For weeks they attacked, but I think they have finally moved on for the season.

In June, I posted that we had abundant rain. Of course that changed completely shortly afterward. The lawn has turned crunchy and brown, despite frequent storms that boil up. You see, storms tend to miss us here in our little corner of Central Ohio. One thing is for sure, that same stormy weather has given us some killer sunsets this summer. I'll end with a few of my favorites. And thanks as usual for stopping by Robin's Nest!