Lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer

Okay, I’m finally willing to admit that Summer’s upon us. Nearly twenty inches of rain have fallen in northern Virginia over the past seven weeks, accompanied by clouds and cooler than average temperatures. But, the party’s over.

P1011706The garden is a lush jungle, ripe for disaster. So many plants have performed splendidly that there should be little doubt that a hail storm will tear apart the huge hostas and hydrangeas. A windstorm will topple the tall nandinas and the blooming stalks of yuccas. There will be beetles, and aphids, slugs, mites and caterpillars.

The scale of delight and disaster has tilted far out of balance for us this Spring, and the gardener knows better than to expect that order will not be restored. No rain is called for in the five day forecast, so I’m resigned that sweltering heat and humidity are here to stay.

Before we retreat beneath the shade, or (horrors!) inside to the cooled air, there are many gems to visit. We’ll move with haste lest a mighty storm flattens the garden in an instant.P1011795

The blooms of ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea are far superior to the poor rating I had given in past years. I may grow to like it. In fact, many hydrangeas are grand, and ‘Lady in Red’ probably no better nor worse than most. But, quite a sight today.P1011828

P1011804The Fuchsia’s are blooming, one tropical (left) purchased in late Winter as barely more than a rooted cutting, and a hardy variety (above) that survived this year’s zero degree low. The hardy one popped through the soil in early May (I had given up on it), but now is growing vigorously and flowering. The tropical has more colorful blooms. Both are fine plants.

A week ago two of the Lysimachias were blooming. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachina nummuleria aurea) lasts only a few days, but then the yellow blooms are hardly noticeable against the yellow button leaves anyway. I’ve found that Jenny works best with a bit of shade rather than full sun, and prefers more moisture than I provide, but it makes a sturdy bright yellow carpet with no care.P1011821

‘Firecracker’ is taller, with small yellow flowers against red leaves. It is vigorous, but not uncontrollable. In late May I keep busy pulling it out of an unfortunate hosta planted nearby, but the sturdy stalks pull out cleanly, so the chore is tolerable. I’ve planted it in two areas in the garden that are bone dry, and it seems quite happy.P1011826

Nearby, next to the patio by the swimming pond, is the gold leafed Agastache, probably ‘Golden Jubilee’. The spiky blossoms are striking with the yellow backdrop, and bees and butterfiles love it. I erred planting it a few feet too far from the stone patio, so I must step over small boulders and euphorbias to touch the fragrant leaves. P1011754Visitors are often surprised that leaves, and not only flowers, are scented.

Across the patio is Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) with two foot stalks. I planted this one earlier in the Spring after one that had been in the garden for years was neglected too long and covered by a large weeping Norway Spruce. Not the first plant I’ve lost to laziness, stupidity, or perhaps both.

The Japanese iris planted in the shallows of the ponds have nearly finished blooming except for a couple planted in deeper water. A handful of different varieties  bloom consecutively beginning early-May through mid-June. A complete accident, since I had no idea when they would bloom. My best gardening decisions can accurately be characterised as “dumb luck”. P1011797

With the iris past bloom, Oriental or Asiatic lilies (I’m not sure which) are flowering next to the swimming pond. I purchased an inexpensive mix so I don’t have a clue what the varieties are, but the random mix of color is quite nice.

P1011760A few feet away are several of a common Catmint (Nepeta) that have been blooming for awhile, but have escaped my close attention. Bumblebees are drawn to this one, which drew my attention today.P1011761

Also blooming for weeks without mention in this journal is the well mannered perennial geranium ‘Rozanne’. It will flower for months, though never covered in blooms. I prefer a geranium with a bit more body, such as the small, shrubby ‘Espresso’ with faded chocolate leaves, which is covered in flowers for a couple weeks, and then just hangs around with good foliage thereafter.

The small leaves of ‘Espresso’ will not be torn to tatters by the gales I’m expecting. The garden might never again be so delightful as we near the end of June, so I will take an appreciative stroll each day until the inevitable storm that wreaks havoc.

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