Monday, July 30, 2012

Garden? What Garden?

I've been on a little vacation to my beloved hometown on the shores of Lake Michigan, so this will not be a garden related post. However, garden lovers are generally nature lovers, so I think my readers can appreciate the beauty of my favorite spot.
  I have to admit, that the weather was not ideal while I was there. It has been hot and dry over much of the country, for most of the summer. However, once I arrived in the little tourist town of St. Joseph Michigan where I grew up, the rains arrived. Just call me the Rain Goddess! But the skies cleared often enough for me to spend some time at the beach.
 I don't have to sunbathe to enjoy the beach, I just have to be there. One day, I even went to the beach when it was drizzling. The waves were big, and I had the whole place to myself. I loved it just as much as a sunny day.
 Needless to say, my favorite time at the beach is sunset. You might even say that I am addicted to sunsets. I can't get enough of them. Sunsets are often beautiful, but throw in a beach and a lighthouse, and it's heavenly.
Now I did visit a lovely garden on my trip. And I took lots of garden pictures to share here on my blog. But first things first. As much as I love gardens, sunset at the beach will trump even a day at Fernwood Botanic Garden. I'll share that another day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

This and That

No theme today, just random things to share from the garden. You'll notice there are very few long views of the garden this summer. The neglect due to my knee injury, and the drought, have partnered to make the overall view less than pleasant. So I focus on individual flowers, that way I can enjoy those little spots of beauty.  Like these yarrow partners, one pink, one yellow. They aren't very big blooms, but I thought they looked cute together.
 And the coneflowers are keeping them company. 
My David Austin rose bush bloomed briefly. I've already forgotten the name, but the scent was heavenly!
 The knockout rose tree throws out a bloom now and then, but nearly as often as a knockout should bloom. I can't figure out why.
Most of the roses have quit blooming, but the Fourth of July climber still puts out a fair amount of flowers. The rose leaves are a mess, try not to look at them. Just concentrate on the blossom.
Beloved Michelangelo roses are back in bloom, and the Japanese beetles have disappeared. Now they can bloom in peace. This rose is my favorite, but unfortunately, it's also their favorite.
Oranges and Lemons rose still has a bloom to share now and then.
Phlox David didn't bloom very well this year, so I had to grab this shot while I could.
I planted an orange milkweed, and I'm glad I did. It's one of the few plants that could care less if it doesn't rain. I haven't seen any monarchs near it yet, but they usually show up later in the summer. 
The milkweed is planted in the one corner of the garden where there are multiple flowers to see. I've always called this corner the butterfly garden, but really, my whole garden is geared towards butterflies.
In this same corner of the garden, you'll see my Full Moon coreopsis, a faithful bloomer.
And that's that! Just a little of this, and a little of that!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

All Is Not Lost

I'm finally getting around on my bum knee a bit more, so I've been able to start a little bit of gardening again. Good thing too, boy does everything need work! I've been chipping away at it little by little. I have a long way to go yet, but I don't care. It feels good to even do a little.
The main project at this point is simply deadheading. And with the dry weather we've had, there is a lot of dried, brown foliage to clean up too. The saddest part is to see the failure of the more sensitive plants. This drought has me reevaluating my garden. I always thought I had planted mostly drought tolerant plants. But there are plenty out there that are still pretty water sensitive. I just have to face the fact that our summers are always going to be dry, and I need to be prepared for that with any future plantings. See in the background here? Even my bicolor butterfly bush is drying up.
Is that a gnome in my the pot up above? Why yes it is! I took the time to repaint him while home recovering. Such a silly little thing, but he does make me smile. He's guarding my Angel's Trumpet.
The puzzling part is the loss of some hardy, native plants like liatris, monarda, and even some of the echinacea. Who kills off liatris, except for me? But like I said, all is not lost. Sunny spots of colorful zinnias make me smile.
Amazingly enough, the Endless Summer hydrangea looks even better this year. I'm watering it constantly, but it's so pretty that it's worth it.
The cute little plumbago never lets me down either. It's blue blooms are clear and true, and when autumn arrives, it turns red for fall color. I always tell myself to plant more of it, but this year, I definitely will. I promise. I'm trying hard to plant repeating elements. I've already added lots more Angelina sedum to unify the back garden, and I plan to do the same with plumbago.
And I have to admit that the Starry Night violas never stop blooming. Even in winter one will occasionally pop out. They even spread themselves gently around in the garden. They also don't care how hot the summer gets.
My mums are confused. First of all, they think it's fall. Second, they've lost their proper coloring! This mum is usually more red and a lot less yellow. Hmmmm. It's called Hot Salsa, and it comes back faithfully every year.
So in a disappointing garden year, there are plenty of hot spots left to enjoy. I'll try not to mourn the losses, but you other gardeners know that it isn't an easy thing to do!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Looking At The Bright Side

Things still don't look very good out in the garden, so I decided to just enjoy the bright spots that I do find, and forget the rest. It's much less stressful that way. Like the Full Moon coreopsis, it could care less if there is a drought in the garden. It's blooming anyway!
The creeping thyme ground cover in my arbor pathway never lets me down. It has been in bloom for weeks now, and if often covered in bees and butterflies.
The bonfire euphorbia next to the thyme is also a summer time stalwart. It doesn't require anything of me, not even water, it just sits there with pretty foliage. I like that in a plant during a hot summer drought.
Sweet little Helenium Mardi Gras may not be the flashiest plant in the garden, but it does bloom, right on cue every summer. 
I might not be a big hosta fan, but there is one kind of hosta that appeals even to me, June. I have it tucked in under my globe spruce, where the foliage continues to look lovely, despite the heat and lack of rain. Trust me, those are hose water drops, not rain. 
Now while my phlox plants don't really flourish, they did all peek out and at least gave me a few blooms, like Nicky here.
I often tout the benefits on my Angelina sedum in winter, I must say that it is equally dependable in mid summer. Never needs water, stays green, spreads out nicely, and doesn't require a thing from me.
  I've over wintered this same Carlos lantana plant for several years now, and here it is in bloom once more. 
This petite echinacea called Mistral is another one that never lets me down. It doesn't bloom till mid summer, but once it does, it never stops.
I think every gardener knows they can count on black eyed susans for some mid summer color in the garden. I don't think there is any way to get this plant wrong.
My new Pow Wow Wildberry echinaceas have bloomed in the prettiest bright pink color. I hope they turn out to be as dependable as the traditional coneflowers.

 Daylilies and lilies are blooming here and there, giving me little spots of color to enjoy. 
And that big pot of black petunias has not stopped blooming or faded in any way throughout this tough summer. I like that in a flower. 
 See, I did it. I found bright spots to enjoy when I really tried. That being said, I still want it to rain!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oh my poor garden!

The unknown summer continues here for me in Central Ohio. Two factors are combining into one of the worst garden years I've ever had. I'm still recovering from a knee injury and minor surgery, so I can't get around very well. We are also suffering with extreme heat and drought. It's a bad combination.
 I've had hubby out watering for me almost daily, and while I so much appreciate his help, it's not the same thing as monitoring the health of your garden on your own. When I do get out there, I find the Japanese beetles ravaging what few roses have managed to bloom in the heat. I find plants struggling to survive, and inexplicably dying. I find everything needs to be deadheaded. I find few plants even bothering to bloom till the heat lets up. It's not a pretty sight. Not to mention that we have had lots of company lately, and they come expecting to find my famous flowers in bloom. It makes me sad.
For instance, I have terrible luck growing delphiniums. I've tried so many times, with little success. This year I wanted to give it one last shot, and just as a bud stalk went up, the terrible derecho storm blew through and snapped it off. How depressing! One lonely little delphinium showed it's flowers for me, so I have to treasure it's lonely bloom.
My little hibiscus tree was refusing to bloom, and the leaves were turning yellow. Now it has decided to bloom again, but as soon as a flower appears, the Japanese beetles come and devour the blooms. Poor little thing.
This Mexican sunflower is doing okay, but the others near the back door are covered in spider mites. I hope it's attracting butterflies, but it's in a spot around the corner where I rarely see it these days.
My beloved coneflowers are doing okay, those that have survived. So many of them did not come back this year, despite the mild winter. They are often nibbled gently around the edge, but I try not to notice. In the background here, you will see a yellow and pink achillea intertwined. I'm particularly fond of the pink one, because it was a rescue from my old Michigan garden. I had given some of it to my MIL, and I noticed last year that it was barely surviving there at her house. I scooped it out, brought it here, and it's starting to catch on. I love having remnants of my old garden!
Another favorite here are black eyed susans, and they have begun to bloom. Yes, they are also being nibbled by something, but at least they are a bright and cheerful golden spot in the garden. Besides, from a distance you can't even see the munch marks!
 But I must admit I have seen an endless array of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds around the butterfly bush just outside the sliding glass door. It warms my heart to see them there, even if I am not fast enough to capture them on film. I also see baby praying mantis often on the glass door and screens. I have no idea it's the same one, but he makes me smile to see him standing his ground. He's small, but fierce!
There are other sad tales to tell, but as a gardener, it just makes me depressed. Even one of my butterfly bushes is looking burned and sad. I thought they were pretty much indestructible. So I'll try to look at the bright side, as it was. The veggie garden actually looks lovely! Soon, we'll be eating cucumbers and after that, the green beans and tomatoes. Peppers are a way off yet, as is the basil. But I'll take what I can get in this summer of frustration.