Friday, August 4, 2017

The Tired August Garden

I guess it's my own fault that my garden looks tired in August. I should plant more perennial flowers that bloom in late summer. I do use zinnias and dahlias for this purpose, but they're behind this year. Still, my garden is looking a little droopy right now. But I won't show you the weak spots. I'd rather hide behind the things that are doing well.

Zinnia bouquet
Cut and Come Again zinnias
Rain drenched lily
Sunflower gift from the birds
Tired or not, there are still plenty of bright spots if you look for it. It makes it easy to skip over the bare spots. My favorite part of late summer is to watch for the butterflies that hang out here. If you've followed my blog at all, you probably already know this about me. I never do get tired of watching for them.

First monarch spotted this year
Red Spotted Purple, not often seen nectaring on flowers
A ragged black swallowtail
Unknown skipper with his proboscis tightly curled
I do find that August finds the gardener herself to be tired also. It's too hot to be overly ambitious. It's not a good time to start any projects anyway. I do a little weeding and deadheading, that's all that really needs to be done. Even weeding is no longer a major task, because my beds have filled themselves in with plants, ground covers, and mulch. Normally watering would be a big task this time of year, but we're having a rainy summer. You have no idea how much I appreciate that!

Sunset hyssop with a visitor
Winter hardy dahlia
Karly Rose grass
Even though some of my garden is less than stellar this time of year, I can always count on my hydrangeas for late summer blooms. I only have three, but they are much loved. The newest one is Little Lime. It's a bit hidden, but it will get larger eventually. I also have Endless Summer hydrangea and Little Quickfire. Endless Summer doesn't bloom as reliably as it once did. Last summer I think it only had three blooms, but it's much more floriferous this year. It blooms on old and new wood, so I can't quite figure out the pattern. We've had mild winters that would not necessarily zap the old wood blooms, and still the blooms were weak. This winter was fairly mild, yet all old wood was killed, and I still have a much better bloom set. Little Quickfire is another story. It's only about three years old, and every year I get more and more blooms. I just love it! This was a trial plant given to me by Proven Winners, and it has lived up to that name. Caladiums make a nice companion to hydrangeas.

Little Lime hydrangea with caladium companion
Little Quickfire in foreground, Endless Summer behind, with more caladiums
Unknown Costco caladiums
Now that I'm speaking of a tired August garden, I see that it is only the perennials that are tired. I'm coming to realize that I use annuals to fill any perennial gaps this time of year. I suppose that's my own method of working around it. I'm not a perennial garden snob by any means! After all, annuals give you that bit of zing that can make a summer garden so stunning. I've noticed more compliments from the neighbors this year, so I must be doing something right.

Dragon wing begonia hanging basket 
Unknown Costco caladiums
Mandevilla, a summer must-have for me
First of my signature zinnias, Queen Red Lime
Sunflower gift from the birds
My patio is on the sunny south side of my house, and the only shade comes from an umbrella. We thought about adding a pergola or large cantilevered umbrella, but it would affect the sun loving plants I grow there. So we just make do. If it's not too hot, the umbrella gives just enough shade to enjoy a quick iced tea break during the day. But after dinner, the sun goes behind the nearby houses and we can fully enjoy our "veranda" time. With drinks and books at hand, I sit with my camera watching the birds comes and go. Petey the hummingbird doesn't like to pose, of course, but sometimes I get lucky. The house sparrows have filled the birdhouse again, and this is the most skittish mama bird I've ever seen. It will be a miracle if her babies get enough to eat, as it takes her a good 20 minutes or more to get up her nerve to bring her treat inside. She watches from afar for a long time, getting slowly nearer, alights on top, then scoots off, again and again. We keep a finch sock filled for the goldfinches, but when the coneflowers are around, they prefer them.

Hummingbird at rest, a rare sight! 
Skittish mama bird
Goldfinch on fading coneflowers
Tired or not, my summer garden still brings me so much joy. I grow it for my own enjoyment, but I had to admit that it pleases me to get such compliments from neighbors and friends. I'm trying to bring a little corner of sunshine to the world. And I think I've succeeded!

Lilies and friends
An exuberant corner
Cherry Cheesecake hibiscus
Sunset hyssop, Black eyed susans with bottle tree
Black eyed susans and plumbago
Resurrection lilies with companions 


  1. If I lived in your neighborhood, I would always tell people that I live by the lady with the beautiful gardens and they would know right away who that was. More beautiful every year, you should be proud. You worked hard to make them beautiful for all to enjoy.

    1. I wish you were still nearby to see them in person!

  2. Truly a feast of beauty. I love your caladiums. I purchased two, but they have had a hard time. I am going to bring them in of the winter. And the lime hydrangea is wonderful--I have one that I have kept on the patio all summer. I will get it planted soon--I hope. How do I prune off the blooms? Do I prune them before I plant. I have never planted one. I have even thought about letting it winter over in the pot in the garage. Your garden is lovely, despite the summer heat. Ours has faded, too. Just too hot.

    1. In general, most flowering plants would do well to have blooms pruned off before planting, so they can concentrate on forming new roots. But this blooms on new wood, and is recommended for late winter or early spring pruning. But mine isn't very old, and I haven't pruned it a bit yet.

  3. Great photos of birds and butterflies and beautiful blooms! Your garden does not look tired, but I can understand why August can be a tough month! My own Endless Summer hydrangeas did not bloom that well, either. They have had a couple of hard years, with hard frost and then last year's drought. But I am ever hopeful that next year will see them restored to their original glory.

    1. I just never know from one year to the next how the Endless Summer will bloom. I understand Bloomstruck is better, but I do hate to take out a healthy plant.

  4. I think everyone's gardens are fading in August! We tried some new plants this year - a native poppy plant, hollyhock and bleeding heart. All three have died! What's up with that?! Makes me wonder if the overabundance of rain we had a few weeks ago had anything to do with it. Though I'm also wondering if the bleeding heart got too much sun. I didn't have it in full sun - it was in part shade. And then I think the hollyhock actually needed more sun. Sigh...sometimes it's a fine balance with these plants! Love your hyssop and every year I love seeing your zinnias, too.

    1. Don't give up hope on your bleeding heart, I found it often faded away in the heat of summer, yet still came back in spring. Same with hollyhock. It always succumbs to rust after it stops blooming, but it generally comes back the next year.

  5. Your garden always leaves me wanting more. I have barely worked in the garden this summer and it shows it. Plants have succumbed to summer's heat and so did I. Now we have rain. Rains in August on the plains. I have hydrangea that I have nurtured on the patio all summer and I am thinking that perhaps it should get dead headed today and planted in the ground with prayers and crossed fingers that it will survive the winter. I don't recall the variety, but it has the big white, lime green flowers that are now truly green. It gave way to wind and rain and now sits all droopy and unattractive. May as well plant prune and plant. I love your garden; it what a garden should be. Favorites: Zinnias and caladiums.

    1. Zinnias are my favorite too. But caladiums are a new addition, and a new love!


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