Early Morning In The Garden

The severe winter was rough on this Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ but I cut it all the way back in early spring. It has been looking strong ever since. There are flowers, but I became distracted by the colorful young leaves this morning.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is barely blooming this summer, but a few were encouraged to give it try after this week’s rain.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

While I was photographing the Black and Blue saliva a handsome dragonfly landed nearby for several seconds before dashing off.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

The heat suits the zinnias just fine. This one looked particularly fresh in the morning light.

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

In A Vase On Monday—In A Table

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Today I am joining Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday challenge. First I had planned to offer a vase filled using zinnias from my garden, but instead I decided to feature a new houseplant.

When my architect daughter was in college majoring in industrial design, she built a modernistic table that could hold a plant. Later she presented it to me as a most memorable Mother’s Day gift. This innovative walnut table with copper fittings sits near a pair of windows in our upstairs reading room. The room faces east so early morning sun easily filters in, keeping plants quite content.

Kalanchoe In Walnut Plant Table

Kalanchoe In Walnut Plant Table

I usually choose plants for this table that do not need frequent watering. This week I spotted a white Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) with plenty of blooms at the local grocery and knew it could work well in this setting. With scalloped edges on the thick leaves and clusters of tiny flowers, this is an inexpensive and long-lasting houseplant.

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

While Kalanchoe is not an uncommon plant I most often I see it for sale in shades of terra-cotta or red, and sometimes yellow. Actually I have never noticed a white one before.

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

I think this Kalanchoe adds the right amount of interest without being too fussy—the green and white are calm and soothing and I love the way it looks from above.

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her and discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Looking Ahead

I love summer but not my perennial garden in summer.

A garden club friend told me several weeks ago she and another were wondering when they could drop by to see my garden. I must have gasped audibly. Laughing but serious, I answered  “next May!”

My garden peaks in spring when the irises bloom. In anticipation I enjoy booting winter on its way and seeing the awakening of plants as the weather warms. Spring is the time when, with the foliage fresh and each first blossom so pure, my hopes and optimism as a gardener are soaring.

But summer!

Though I love summer for the long daylight and easy pace, this particularly dry, hot  and humid summer has challenged my interest, if not my very identity, as a gardener.  Soon after the irises started blooming, the rains stopped coming. Temperatures spiked into what I once thought was the range only of the hottest days of August.

I planted a few zinnias and other seeds, but postponed my planned trips to the garden center to select colorful annuals for planters and for filling in some bare patches in the garden. I pulled out the pansies that had added so much color to the meditation circle all winter and spring, thinking soon I would install some other cheery flowers. I watered a few times but soon it became clear that with the extreme heat a few times would not be adequate to tide the garden over until the next rain. For weeks dense, dark blue-black clouds that formed overhead kept bringing empty promises, either dissipating completely or just drifting away. As the garden dried up I abandoned it for other activities.

Although there are no interesting scenic views to share,  I want to note a few individual plants that have tolerated the drought and heat this summer.

Lantana died back hard during the cold winter. It took a while for it to start blooming this summer but has been happy producing its multicolored florets for several weeks.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

This little skipper posed briefly for me, but, just seconds before, it had settled upon my hand and sat patiently while I marveled. This was the first time ever I have held a butterfly.

Skipper on fence post just after leaving my hand

Skipper on fence post just after leaving my hand

Last summer I planted the very center of the labyrinth with thyme.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

I learned too late this is not the kind usually used in cooking, but is is slightly fragrant. It is Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

I am pleased the thyme has spread so well and the bees are attracted to the pink-violet flowers.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Waving above the thyme are a few cleomes sporting seed pods. On one a grasshopper (or maybe a katydid?) found resting spot.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Grasshopper Atop Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Grasshopper or Katydid Atop Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

The zinnias I planted from seed earlier in spring get by without much water. I like that the seed packet contained a good mix, including yellows and oranges, and not just mostly pink.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ began blooming several weeks ago. Here a Hairstreak butterfly (not sure which one) and a bee travel around the cone.

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Finally the bee moves on and the hairstreak emerges into the sunlight.

Hairstreak On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Three or four gardenia flowers appeared last week on the Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is also blooming this week.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Last year I planted a row of Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’ along the path of the labyrinth. It did poorly but a couple overwintered and now are flowering.

Alyssum 'Easter Bonnet Violet'

Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’

Last Tuesday around 5:00 pm we finally had a big thunderous storm. While I just thought my garden seemed nicely refreshed afterwards, I did not realize how much rain had fallen. In fact several neighbors told me later we had five inches. Some of the storms drains a few streets away were overwhelmed. One neighbor shared his video of water a foot deep streaming down the road and into his yard, a small amount of which entered the crawl space of his house.

My garden had some sprawling plants, tangled and twisted after being knocked down by the wind, but largely the garden benefited from the storm. The temperatures moderated appreciably for the rest of the week.

This morning brought another shower, a soft gentle rain this time, and I find myself liking the garden again, imagining it can be redeemed. Who knows? It might be ready by “next May!”

After The Rain. Garden View With Meditation Circle

After The Rain. Garden View With Meditation Circle

 

In A Vase On Monday—Sisters’ Hydrangeas

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Using a bit of poetic license, I am twisting the rules on Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday challenge to offer a vase filled using materials gathered not from my own garden this week, but rather from my sisters’ lovely garden.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Yesterday we had a wonderful family gathering at the home of two of my sisters.

Earlier this spring a freak storm in their area had dumped over 6 inches of rain in a brief amount of time, overpowering the culverts and causing severe flooding in their neighborhood (as well as in other parts of the city). The water receded quickly once the storm passed, but the water coursing thought their yard had left a path of destruction and detritus.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Despite this inauspicious start to the spring gardening season, their garden now looks beautiful again. It has been quickly restored: mounds of debris removed, fountains repaired, herb garden replanted, shattered glass bird bath replaced, containers repotted and more.

Many hostas were lost but fortunately their collection of hydrangeas survived intact. In fact, I was drooling over the ones on their coffee table and mantel all afternoon. And lucky me, before I left yesterday one sister took me out next to the pergola to cut a variety of these multicolored flowers for a take-home bouquet.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Once home I chose a dark blue ceramic vase as a container. After admiring the hydrangeas for a few minutes, I found the flowers practically arranged themselves. I removed almost every leaf, then shortened the stems several times until the flowerheads draped easily together.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Unlike many of my floral designs which are intended to be viewed from the front, the graceful hydrangeas in this arrangement flow one to the next and encourage the viewer to follow.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

 

I love hydrangeas and am certain to enjoy this arrangement all week, thanks to my generous sisters and their inspiring garden.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her and discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Regal Moth

Yesterday this moth was perched on the outside wall at the studio where I practice yoga. Before class started, my friend and fellow student, Diane, showed me a photograph she had taken of the moth on her way into the building and told me where I could look for it when I was leaving.

As it happened we exited the building at the same time and she pointed it out. Sure enough, the moth was still in the same spot on the brick wall. My husband snapped several images using his phone so I could share it here.

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

From matching photos and descriptions I believe this insect is called Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth).

The regal moth’s range is Eastern United States.  It has a harmless, but enormous caterpillar by all accounts, growing up to six inches (someone said it is about the size of a hot dog) before burrowing into the soil to molt and overwinter in its pupa stage.

These caterpillars, named hickory horned devils, are extremely heavy feeders. A few host plants are hickories, sweet gum, persimmon, sumac and black walnut. It gets all its eating done during its early stages. This insect does not feed on anything during its adult stage as at that time it has only a vestigial mouth.

Around June-July the insect changes into the mature adult stage we saw yesterday, beautiful with a deep orange body and gray wings marked with orange veins. Though the spots look white in these images, the descriptions I read all referred to them as yellow. The Regal Moth will live for about a week during which it will mate. Apparently the male can fly from miles away to connect with a potential mate.

The Regal Moth is a large insect with a wingspan of approximately 4-6 inches (10 – 16 cm). We did not get to see the opened wings but it was a treat to meet this moth yesterday.

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

In A Vase On Monday—Two Stems And A Leaf

Gladiolus

Gladiolus—In A Vase On Monday

Another week is beginning and once again I am joining Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

A dark magenta-red gladiolus began opening several days ago and another began showing similar color on Sunday morning. I cut both stems and planned to use them in a large mixed arrangement along with Echinacea, Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and dark Canna leaves.

The colors all looked great together, but in the end I found the elegant gladioli spires worked best as a solo act this time. A gladiolus leaf turned back on itself and pulled through a slit was used to add a third element to the design.

Gladioli In A Vase On Monday

Gladioli In A Vase On Monday

Today’s vessel is a tall pale green bud vase with an opening just barely wide enough to allow both stems to fit. It makes a fairly neutral container, allowing the velvety texture and deep rich color of the flowers to be the main focus.

Gladioli-2

Gladioli – In A Vase On Monday

Gladioli-3

Gladiolus – In A Vase On Monday

I photographed the arrangement outdoors on the screened porch in the early evening on Sunday. Thought the wall made a stark background, there was soft and ample light, making it easier than usual to capture the essence of the flowers.

Gladiolus detail - In A Vase On Monday

Gladiolus – In A Vase On Monday

Gladioli-7

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Fireworks

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

I was surprised to discover this burst of color in the southern border early this July Fourth. I inherited this daylily several years ago when my daughter moved and could not take her plants. This is the first time it has bloomed in my garden.

Not really knowing its name I nicknamed it Fireworks just for today as a nod to Independence Day and the streams of color that will fill the night sky.

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

I will have to check with my daughter but I think this is one she selected at Roger Mercer’s daylily farm. The closest match I could find on his website was ‘Black Jade’ but it is certainly not one unless by accident as the price listed was $200.

Dark black-red Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Dark black-red Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Another nameless daylily, this sunny yellow, ruffly one I selected during the same daylily farm visit. Sometimes the color seems almost tangerine but not sure I would describe it as such this year. I know very little about daylilies but am becoming more interested in them this year.

Ruffled-edge Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Ruffled-edge Hemerocallis (Daylily)

And one more thing—I could not resist showing the first flower that has opened at the bottom of this gladiolus spike. With its nice clear magenta hue it really stood out against the grass and sedum below.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus