}

August 5, 2012

High Summer Annuals ( and Mid-Season Perennials) Grow Forth

THE STEAMY HUMID AUGUST WEATHER BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN MANY LATE SEASON ANNUALS LIKE THIS 'JOSEPH'S COAT' AMARANTH, AMARANTHUS TRICOLOR. RARELY SEEN IN GARDENS TODAY ( SEEMS LIKE I SAY THAT A LOT LATELY!), IT'S INCREDIBLE TO THINK THAT THIS TALL ANNUAL GROWS FROM SEED THAT IS DUST-LIKE.

 The full moon of August marks a critical time in the summer garden, high summer has arrived. Just in case you haven't noticed that the song birds have now become silent not, and that the hot weather has relocated them deeper into the cool forests. They need time to rest and to build energy now that they have completed their first and often second broods for the season. Crickets and the buzzing of insects have replaced them, during the day, wasps, yellow jackets and dragonflies glide over tall tomatoes and grasses, and at night, it's all crickets, all the time.

SOMETIMES SOLD AS 'SUMMER POINTSETTIA', AMARANTHUS TRICOLOR WAS ONE AN ANNUAL GROWN AT MONTICELLO,  ONE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON'S FAVORITES.  HE LOVED IT SO MUCH, HE SHARED SEEDS IN A SHIPMENT TO HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW FRANCIS EPPES, FROM PARIS in 1786. THESE WILL LOOK THEIR FINEST IN A FEW WEEKS. 

Nothing Say's August, like Ever-Blooming Peonies


The peony has a long and rich history in horticulture, so it came as no surprise that our local Sunoco station, which is managed by a Chinese family, would have these incredible peonies, which I see every day as I go to work. It's true. A few years ago, they started introducing these new ever-blooming peonies which started blooming just after the main herbaceous and Itoh hybrids bloomed in June. These varieties last until late August, or, until the autumnal displays start. The pink varieties are my favorite, but the white and bi-colored plants seed to stand out the best at this very busy intersection on MA Route 20 in Worcester, MA.


Of course, this is a joke. These are silk flowers, added by who I believe is the grandfather of this Chinese family, every year. What impresses me the most is that he selects the most natural looking flowers, and carefully wires them into the bushes, always arranged by color. They look so natural, that even I am fooled, as they catch my eye. Peonies only bloom for one week out of the entire year, so this makes them more useful, I suppose. Not that I would ever try this at home, I have to admit that even though these are artificial, this is, after all, a gas station, and these planting still looks far better than the typical fare of orange marigolds, or red, white and blue petunias. Has anyone else seen this done in their neighborhood? I did hear of a garden in Rhode Island where someone added silk blue hydrangeas to their plants that did not bloom.

Lydia and Fergus, our Irish Terriers, stay cool in the air conditioning. Time for a new floor, I think.

August 1, 2012

Beat the Heat with a White Garden


CALADIUM 'AARON'  - I'M NOT THAT FOND OF CALADIUM, BUT DO LIKE THIS ONE, SO I BOUGHT 50. I LOVE HOW IT BRIGHTENS UP THE DARK, SHADY AREAS UNDER TREES NEAR THE END OF THE WHITE BORDER.
If you remember, I decided to convert our long perennial border into a white border, which will take a couple of years. This first year, I have used mostly annuals, as many of the perennials I wanted were hard to find, or they are too small to bloom this year. Even with using temporary plants, annuals and some containers, the border is beginning to look better - especially now in mid summer. I purchased far too many caladium from Caladium World, the bulbs were massive, but difficult to get started, even in the greenhouse. Caldium insist of warm soil in which to sprout, I had to use a heating mat, even in June. Once they begin growing, they quickly fill a pot. Caladium World ( stupid name - awesome nursery) ships giant bulbs. When ordering, you can request even larger bulbs if you want - they sell 5 different sizes. I ordered the largest bulbs that they sell - some were 7 inches in diameter!

CALADIUM, IMPATIENS AND JAPANESE DWARF CLIVIA ( SOME VERY RARE ONES) SHARE  A CHOICE SPOT IN THE SHADE UNDER A JAPANESE MAPLE ALONG THE WALK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WHITE BORDER.



LAVATERA 'MONT BLANC', A SLIGHTLY FUSSY ANNUAL RARELY SEEN IN GARDENS TODAY. IT DOESN'T EVEN THINK OF BLOOMING UNTIL THE WEATHER TURNS SULTRY IN MID SUMMER.


LAVATERA 'MONT BLANC', SEED RAISED AND CAREFULLY TRANSPLANTED AND STAKED ADDS  A DOSE OF BRILLIANT WHITE IN THE WHITE BORDER.

THE CHOICE ANNUAL - LAVATERA - STARTS BLOOMING AFTER MID-JULY. THESE PLANTS WHICH I STARTED IN THE GREENHOUSE IN APRIL, WERE SET OUT INTO THE GARDEN IN JUNE. BY MID AUGUST, THE PLANTS ARE AS LARGE AS SHRUBS AND COVERED IN WHITE FLOWERS THAT ARE NOT UNLIKE ROSE OF SHARON.

MANY OF THE ANNUALS THAT I BOUGHT IN LATE MAY FROM A LOCAL GARDEN CENTER ARE NOT DOING WELL. ZINNIA, CLEOME, SNAPDRAGON AND THESE NICOTIANA ARE ALL FAR TOO DWARF. YOU MAY THINK THEY WERE ALL DISEASED AS THEY LOOKED SO HEALTHY AND IN BLOOM WHEN I PLANTED THEM, BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT THEY WERE ALL TREATED WITH HORMONES TO PUSH THEM INTO BLOOM EARLY. NOW THEY ARE MUTATED AND FAILING IN THE HEAT.

A DETAIL LOOK AT THE SHADY PART OF THE BORDER. I DID NOT ALLOW ANY YELLOW FOLIAGE,  EXCEPT THIS ONE TOAD LILY. BLACK OR WHITE FOLIAGE IS ALLOWED.



WHITE ECHINACEA JUST STARTING TO BLOOM. NEXT YEAR, THESE PLANTS WILL BE FAR MORE SHOWY.

THE PALMATE FOLIAGE OF RODGERSIA, SOME TRICYRTIS, WHITE IMPATIENS, AND A LOAD OF WHITE CALADIUM FILL IN DULL SPOTS IN THE SHADE.