Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Garden of Summer Flowers

 Summer Flowers: A Poem

            Another way to say this is: all I want is the pictures.

            Point number one. Nothing lasts.

            Point number two. There's always tomorrow.

            Here's a list of summer bloomers that comes by way of a favorite plant center, Kennedy Gardens in Scituate. They divided their list into full sun perennials and shade perennials. This batch below is the full sun crew:  

            "Brighten up your yard with Echinacea, Coreopsis, Daylilies, Delphinium, Shasta Daisies, Helenium, Monarda, Achillea, Phlox, and others." 
            Let's start at the top. We have Echinacea. For the second year in a row this "full sun" plant has bloomed with a fair degree of lavish in our clearly part-shade back garden. We don't really have a full sun spot behind the house; ask my tomatoes. It took these plants (pictured top left) five or six years to really establish themselves, which may be due to their struggling along on rationed sunshine. They don't seem to need any special care and they stand up well to our nearly annual summer heat wave/drought.

            The picture here shows our violet Echinacea paired with Black-Eyed Susans. While a different genus, Rudbckia, Black-Eyed Susans they share the nickname "cone flowers" with Echinacea.

            We have a form of Coreopsis that started blooming in late June. It expands every year. I've included a photo (second on left) of this plant at its best. By late July however, almost all the blooms in this photo are faded and I'm faced with deadheading a couple hundred spent flower heads to stimulate it to make some more. I will get to it, he said.

            Many, many varieties of this flower; most all of them have yellow flowers. Some large as daisies. Our plant,with probably the smallest flowers, on the small side of asters, appears to be the variety called "moonbeam threadleaf." The leaves are reduced to thin little green lines and the flowers though tiny are many. Again, in our less than full sun took longer to establish this plant, but it looks great when blowing full blast.

            Daylilies you've heard a lot about lately. I'm going to include a pic (third down) of one of our latest varieties, anyway.

            I have no luck with Delphinium. They die. They don't even try. Something about their not liking "noon sun on their roots." Too much sun is not our problem here, and yet they die.

            Shasta Daisies on the other hand proliferated all over the garden after I grew them from seed in an act of wintery devotion I will never repeat. However they grow weaker every year, as my tree cover grew shadier; hardier more adaptable plants elbowed them out.

            Helenium I've never grown. Monarda (fourth pic down), also known as bee balm, makes brilliant red rugged herb-looking flowers. The tough, wild look of the bloom is part of its charm. This another flower that peaked a few years ago and then died back, probably starved for sun. But the best, tallest variety we had lost a lot of ground two years ago after a very mild winter. I think the plant disease that is so endemic to this species that the specimens they sell you at the nursery already come with it simply kept growing all winter and did the plant in. I am now rooting for "real" winters with lots of snow for water in the ground and a good cold spell to kill off some of the plant diseases and pests.

            I am now growing a plant called Crocosmia to make up for the loss of red flowers. It's supposedly a "part sun" favorite. The proof is in the persistence.

            That leaves Achillea, the old-fashioned herb called yarrow. We have some here, but the plant did much better in a sunny spot at our previous home.

            Phlox (fifth down), however, gets a big vote from me for a plant that's sure to show up in mid-summer and stay a good long time. It spreads. If you don't want it everywhere, you'll have to step in.  

            Summer plants we like not mentioned here: balloon flower. They're blue (see pic, sixth down), they spread and so far they're carefree. Gay flower, or Liatris. It's purple and brushy; see photo (seventh down; bottom photo). The loosestrifes, yellow and gooseneck. Rose of Sharon, a late summer shrub that now comes in mid-summer. When August is settled in, where shall I find another? The same goes Hibiscus. 
           Final line to that poem:
           Enjoy them while they last.