Mid-August Notables

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ with Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Lately I have spent very little time in my waning summer garden, but yesterday in the peace of the early morning I enjoyed some quiet moments watering and assessing the main borders.

Much of my garden is shutting down for the season. Cleome and phlox, which managed to carry the garden through the worst of the heat and drought, now have quit producing.

After spring, my favorite time to garden, all bets are off anyway, but I did make an effort this year to plan for more interest in the summer months. I also watered frequently when rains did not come, something I rarely am willing to do. Nevertheless, it has been a tough summer for gardening.

Even some old reliables, such as Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ felt the strain. Usually a star in the summer, this year ‘Irish Eyes’ struggled and gave up all too quickly. Just a few flowers remain.

Many new plants have been stressed too. Although I tried to keep them happy, three new gardenias and one of the two new camellias appear to be doomed.

For several years I have admired photos of Agastache (Mexican hyssop) from across the blogosphere. Finally this spring I brought Agastache ‘Kudos Ambrosia’ home from my local garden center, where it has languished.

Also, despite packaging promises of “flowers summer through fall,” neither a new red Clematis ‘Niobe’  nor some red and purple dahlias planted in spring have yet to make much impact. These plants at least look healthy though so I am optimistic in a few more weeks their performance will improve as the weather cools.

Even with these and other setbacks, there are a few bright spots in the garden, which were really my focus for today.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ has rebloomed. This vine looked lovely in spring, then turned completely brown in time for Christina’s visit. I trimmed part of it back halfway but it seems to have all recovered, so I cannot give credit to the pruning.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Zinnias continue to look colorful and healthy. These orange ones are my favorite each year.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Zinnia

Zinnia

I purchased a few red-orange Zinnia ‘Profusion Fire’ as plants for some instant color in late spring. The ones planted in containers did not make it, but in the ground they coped better. This one looked nice in the dewy morning, surrounded by fresh leaves of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and perennial Dusty Miller.

Zinnia 'Profusion Fire' Peeking Out From Under Aquilegia canadensis

Zinnia ‘Profusion Fire’ Peeking Out From Under Aquilegia canadensis

Zinnia 'Profusion Fire' and perennial Dusty Miller

Zinnia ‘Profusion Fire’ encompassed by perennial Dusty Miller

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed-susan) is not unusual at all, but I have had trouble keeping it established in my garden and am excited it has done well this year.

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed-susan)

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed-susan)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant) which opened about 10 days ago continues to look fresh in the northwest border. The cuttings I brought inside for Monday’s vase also are holding up well.

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Cosmos planted from seed in early spring in the southern side border faced stiff competition from Cleome that reseeded vigorously.  Only a few cosmos plants survived the battle and none have bloomed so far even though the cleome has been removed. They look strong and healthy bathed in yesterday’s early sunlight. I expect them to rally this fall.

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

A dependable highlight for weeks and weeks each year, Autumn Joy (Stonecrop) is doing well. I really like it in this green stage.

Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude' Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

A native, Callicarpa americana (American beauty berry) started flowering a few weeks ago. Berries are forming too, suggesting just a hint of the pink that will mature to a shocking shade of magenta.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

So, at mid-August the garden is not as lush as last summer when there was ample rain to sustain it, but having chosen to water this year I have found myself more connected to its changing moods. Though sadly I could not save all the plants, I have had the pleasure of time spent among the flowers and the gift of being more aware of the bees, butterflies and other insects visiting my little backyard haven.

And then there is this: my husband spontaneously said tonight, “What a luxury the garden is.” I think he is on to something.

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35 thoughts on “Mid-August Notables

  1. bittster

    I could never give up the luxury of my garden 🙂
    The bright zinnia with that gray Artemisia is a great picture, I love the contrast and how the gray sets the brighter color off!
    You do have a long summer, I’m not surprised your enthusiasm (and the plant’s) starts to wear thin at this time of year.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      My husband has always been supportive about my gardening, but I appreciated knowing he values the garden also. Once the weather shifts I hope to get more inspired to spend time in the garden.

      Reply
  2. Carole L. Balsley

    Hi, after being away from my garden for 6 days, I am trying to catch up. I was late planting cosmos seeds this year, but in the past have had good luck with them until we have a significant frost. Enjoying your blog

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Glad you’re enjoying my blog Carole. It doesn’t take long for changes to take place in the garden does it? Hope your cosmos does well. I kept meaning to reseed them and some more zinnias but never got around to it. The first time I remember seeing cosmos is in the Flower Ladies’ bouquets on Franklin.

      Reply
  3. Pauline

    All our gardens are changing, you still have plenty of beautiful blooms, but I feel that autumn isn’t far away. Your Zinnias are so striking, especially next to the silvery foliage.

    Reply
  4. mattb325

    I do hope that the weather will cool down for you soon. It is likely that July will be the hottest on record across the globe (this comes off the back of the hottest June, May, April, March and so on!) It’s little wonder that the plants are struggling….despite the heat, you do have some very beautiful blooms. I really love the clematis and punchy orange of the zinnias

    Reply
  5. homeslip

    I did enjoy reading this post. I have chosen not to use mains water on my garden this year and in one of the driest summers in the UK South East that I can remember my garden is looking rather lacklustre. But when I walk in the countryside I see that my garden is still a little oasis by comparison. Anyway who wants verdant green lawns and bedding plants. Colour for me now is limited to pink hydrangea (mulched with grass cuttings this year), pink penstemon, blue agapanthus (fed with comfrey tea and brilliant this year), blue Clematis Mrs Betty Corning (responding at last to the recent rain and a collar of home-made compost) and white Japanese Anemone and white jasmine. Soon I know my garden will explode with colour from Schizostylis, sedum and yellow crocosmia and if the roses find enough energy for a repeat flowering, well that will be a bonus.

    Reply
  6. rusty duck

    I had to chop my clematis down as it was growing up the tree that was felled. It is re-sprouting though, so there is hope. A garden is a true luxury, whatever its ups and downs.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hope that clematis springs back quickly for you. I admire those that grow up into the treetops. Mine have never been tempted to reach great height.

      Reply
  7. Marian St.Clair

    Conditions have been tough here this summer too, but in the past couple of weeks we have had a handfull of late afternoon cloud bursts. I’ve noticed the dogwood trees are setting bud for next spring, so thank goodness we’re getting something. Your garden is doing amazingly well, considering. Love those orange zinnias!

    Reply
  8. Loretta

    Lovely color in all your flowers. I know what you mean about this time of year in the garden. The heat is just relentless, and much as I want to keep everything looking fresh and green, I sometimes throw my hands up in the air. Thankfully we don’t have a blade of grass to worry about, but some of my flowers are looking pretty deadbeat!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you Loretta! You’re lucky not to have to worry about grass. Our community mandates it for the front yards, but it always look awful this time of year.

      Reply
  9. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    We’re having 90 degree days with humidity in the 80% – wicked out there. But, I have two garden beds that I had to replant because a tree came down and the area went from shade to sun. Now, I’m pouring the water on to keep the newly planted areas alive. Gardening is certainly never boring. 🙂

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I should think that is very unusual for you to have such heat and humidity Judy. Hope you get a break soon–makes it hard to get new plants established. Good luck with the new beds.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you Rickii! By this time of summer if not everything is brown, I have to call it a successful gardening year, but having my husband’s appreciation for the garden stately so nicely is really something.

      Reply
  10. hoehoegrow

    Late summer can be a difficult time in the garden, depending on the preceding season, I guess. Your garden looks as though it has some fantastic plants blooming strongly. Cosmos is one of the best annuals there is, and it is so reliable.

    Reply
  11. Brian Skeys

    I love the picture of the Zinnia that hasn’t quite opened, it is amazing the colour you have in your “Luxury” garden considering the climate you are working in. Enjoy!

    Reply
  12. Chloris

    What a struggle it is for you to keep your garden going in your hot summer. But it rewards you with some lovely blooms. I love those gorgeous zinnias. The garden is indeed a luxury and a constant source of delight.

    Reply

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