Sunday, July 20, 2014

A "Normal" Summer

I've only lived here in central Ohio for ten years, which still seems long enough to notice patterns in the weather. But every time I think that I've got it, I realize that I don't. Summer in particular just baffles me. Most of the time, it's just hot and dry. We've watched storms pass to our north countless times, without giving us a drop. In response to this, I use mostly plants that are drought tolerant. Makes sense, right?
Snapdragons Tall Ribbon Mix
Rudbeckia Goldsturm
Only it doesn't. Every few years, we have a "normal" summer, with plenty of rain. I must admit, it's wonderful to have most of the water we need. And my dry-loving plants seem to take it in stride, so they must have the drainage they need. But I noticed something interesting.
Pennisetum Karly Rose
Pennisetum Karly Rose

Pennisetum Karly Rose
In the years when we have plenty of rain, I get way more blooms out of my flowers, even those that supposedly don't like much water! I can't figure it out.
Monarda Jacob Clline
Sunset Hyssop
Endless Summer hydrangea
I've come to the conclusion that I may own plants that actually need more water than I thought. The most amazing difference I've seen this year is with my phlox plants. I had almost forgotten that I even owned phlox Nicky and phlox Pixie Miracle Grace, because they are always so stingy with their blooms. Not this year! This year, they are making themselves known. Perhaps the bitter cold winter gave them a boost?

Phlox Nicky

Phlox Pixie Miracle Grace
This one is new this year, so I can't judge if this is how well it always blooms. I've never had enough blooms from any of them to actually smell there fabulous fragrance. This year, that fragrance perfumes the whole area. I think I need more of them. Fragrance is crucial in my garden.
Phlox Purple Flame snuggling up with a mandevilla
  Phlox David has always done fairly well, but this year it's blooming like crazy. I've decided that all of the phlox just need more water than I give them.
Phlox David

  I've grown Nigella, or Love-in-a-Mist for years, simply letting the seeds fall where they will for the next year. This year, I actually dropped some new seed, and have been rewarded with the prettiest blooms ever. I won't leave this to chance anymore.
Nigella or Love-in-a-Mist
Nigella seed pods
The coneflowers have really surprised me. Being a drought tolerant native plant means that I plant them, and just enjoy the beauty. But this year, even they have bloomed better than ever. Again, I'm not sure if it's the rain, the cold winter, or if I just got lucky.
White Swan echinacea
Pow Wow Wildberry echinacea
Magnus echinacea
Green Envy echinacea
I guess I'll just enjoy this lovely "normal" summer and all the blooms that it brings. Next year will probably be dry as a bone, and that will feel normal too. I just can't figure this place out! Maybe another tens year ought to do it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

So many blooms!

It seems that in late spring, I get so busy planting that I don't find time for posting here. There aren't as many blooms then either, since everything is newly planted. Well, now it's summer time, and there are flowers everywhere! Now I'm out there snapping pictures of every little bloom, then I end up not posting because I'm too busy editing photos. Either way, it's a silly excuse, and I thought it was time to update the blog with some of the pretty spots around the yard. I find it so lovely out there, that I often look around me and just sigh with contentment.
Tahitian sunset rose

Fourth of July climbing rose
Chinatown rose-brand new!

Happy Chappy-groundcover rose
Pope John Paul rose-brand new! 

It really is heart warming to see my roses rebounding like they have. I have to say, anything that survived the cold winter actually seems healthier than ever. As a matter of fact, I'd say the cold did them some good. Several of my older roses were really out of control, and too large for their space. But now they've been cut back to a bit smaller space, and they seem much better for it, like my favorite yellow knock out rose. One thing that was not improved by winter was my birdhouse. It now appears to be the low rent district birdhouse. I'll have to figure out how to do some repairs.
Rosa Sunny knock out rose

Another plant that received a little judicious pruning was the lavender. It was a little slow to start, then I had to really cut out a lot of deadwood. But over all, it looks better than ever because it's more controlled now.
Munstead lavender with Angelina sedum flowers
Mustead lavender with Cheyenne Spirit lavender and Moonshine yarrow
Munstead lavender with shasta daisies

I use common geraniums fairly often, but I found that I rarely take pictures of them. I thought I should remedy that. My patio urns are filled with multi colored geraniums this year. 
Common pelargonium

 Now this little beauty is what I call my "pet" geranium. I like to bring a potted geranium into the house over the winter to cheer me up, and what better way than this one with variegated leaves. I love it, and it doesn't even have to bloom to be pretty.
Pelargonium tri-color
I've never grown red hot poker before, but when a friend passed on a seedling, I thought I'd give it a try. Turns out that I really like it! I wish the blooms lasted longer though.
I know I rave about my sedum Angelina all the time, especially in winter. But I've noticed that it makes a nice backdrop for a lot of my summer flowers. Here it is framing Black and Blue salvia. It's one of those annuals that I must have every summer. It's actually listed as hardy to zone 6, which I am, but I've never had it return. Sometimes I leave it growing in a pot so that I can overwinter it inside. But most of the time I just buy a new one each spring.
Black and Blue salvia
Black and blue salvia
I also like the way that the sedum Angelina makes a nice backdrop for garden art. I'm a big fan of Mexican pottery, so I thought this globe looked nice nestled here.
Sedum Angelina with Talavera pottery
 Here's a peek at my little water garden. I purposely fed them so they'd come up top for their photo op.
Water Garden
I thought I'd give you a look at another one of the Proven Winner plants I'm trialing. This one is a heuchera called Cinnamon Curls. It was quite red when I first got it, but now the color is more variable. I'll be curious to see if it blooms this year. I am anxious for it to grow up a little bigger, but it is quite pretty either way. They gave me several shade plants in my trial box, and that's always a challenge here. My shady spots are quite small, so I had to find a spot to wedge them in!
Cinnamon Curls heuchera
I plan most of my back garden as a sanctuary for butterflies and hummingbirds. Of course that means growing milkweed for the monarchs, and various carrot family crops for swallowtails. I haven't seen a monarch yet, but I've heard they are in the area. All of my milkweeds are blooming, and ready for company. I'd like to get a few more varieties, if I can find them locally.
Swamp milkweed
Gay butterflies milkweed
Gay butterflies milkweed
But I definitely did see swallowtails in the garden. I spotted one laying her eggs on my dill plants. Soon after, I found them covered in all manner of swallowtail caterpillars!
Swallowtail caterpillars
I picked up an annual cuphea to help attract hummers, but I haven't seen them on this one. It's called Candy Corn. I like it either way. And I see hummingbirds all the time anyway. Just another one of the many blooms I'm enjoying right now. Soon, I'll have many more to share with you!
Cuphea Candy Corn with Snapdragons Tall Ribbon Mix