Summertime, and the living is easy

Thank goodness, most garden chores are done. Now’s the time to sit back and relax.

This has been a wonderful Spring for the garden with an abundance of rain and cloudy, cool weather. Oh, we’ll complain that we haven’t seen the sun in weeks, or that it was too muddy for this and that, but plants are lush and bloomed as well as I can recollect.

In the past week we’ve experienced our first prolonged period of heat, though not too severe. The ponds needed to be topped off  (not a drop was added through the Spring with twenty inches of rain in May and June), and the tubs of tropicals set out for the Summer had to be watered for the first time.Variegated yucca flowers

A scattering of weeds are popping up, but not bad. Most areas of the garden are planted so heavily that there’s no space to grow. In the few open areas, my wife and I pull a few weeds every day while we’re wandering around, and mostly we keep up.

P1011966The Japanese beetles haven’t arrived yet, but they should anyday now. No matter, I don’t spray for them anyway. Hopefully, the blueberries ripen before the beetles arrive so I can get them before they do.P1011947

Now that Spring has passed there are still flowering trees in the garden. Today, small yellow blooms hang from the Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata). The flowers soon turn to large seed pods that are quite interesting, if you didn’t know that you are about to have thousands of seedlings growing throughout the garden. This is the one tree that I regret planting, but haven’t the heart or energy to cut it down.

Crapemyrtles are beginning to bud and bloom. First the large, fast growing Natchez with masses of white blooms that often weigh down the branches. White crapemyrtles are the staple of the south, but in northern climes pinks and reds are more popular.P1011930

Buds are just beginning to open on the crapemyrtle that I think is Burgundy Cotton, though it might be White Chocolate. I really need to keep better records when I plant something, not depending on my feeble memory years later. I suppose they are similar, and probably both fine plants. The foliage is a dark burgundy, the blossoms white, and I recall from prior years that the flowers persist for more than a month. Sioux, Centennial Spirit, Pink Velour, and Arapaho are beginning to bud, but won’t flower for several weeks, then will bloom into September.

A few years ago I planted several in the Razzle Dazzle series of dwarf crapemyrtles. All but Cherry Dazzle were disappointments, but it is a delight, a compact, carefree rounded shrub with dark leaves that blooms for a month or more. In the past I have grown other dwarfs, Pocomoke and Chickasaw, but they leafed out very late, barely grew, and flowered late, briefly, and sporadically. I rarely pull a plant out, but these two didn’t perform well enough to stay. Further south I’m sure they’re fine plants, but not in my northern Virginia garden. But Cherry Dazzle is a gem.P1011854

P1011847The purple Jackmanii and white Henryi clematis growing in the tall Nandina domestica are reblooming.  I don’t recall this happening any other time, but here it is. Also, the seed head from Henryi  is a delight, reminiscent of a bad hairdo from the Beatles days.P1011965

At the far end of the garden, growing behind a large lilac and Tardiva hydrangea, tucked under a Foxtail Colorado spruce and two Sekkan Sugi cryptomerias, the plume poppy (Macleaya cordata) is nearly blooming. This tall, coarse textured perennial sits on a low mound that was inhabited by my resident groundhog, who has either been more stealthy than last year, or has moved on. Plume poppy is perfectly suited for covering a groundhog’s lair. P1011964

Just a few paces away, a new addition to the garden, a treasure discovered on my recent journey to Oregon, the Korean fir ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’, displays its colorful cones and upturned silver backed needles. A bit more lawn had to be sacrificed to make room. Pity.P1011979

The flower of the pineapple lily (Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’) is ascending from the base of the burgundy foliage. This striking lily is planted next to a  green and white variegated caryopteris, a wonderful foliage contrast except the caryopteris is a bit greedy for space and insists on flopping over its neighbor.  P1011992

A few feet away, tucked under the fine variegated leaf redbud ‘Silver Cloud’ is the Coneflower ‘Coconut Lime’ (Echinacea purpurea). It deserves a showier placement, but there it will stay for now.P1011956

Back to the top of the rear garden, Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ is blooming, though the flowers are not notable. This is a foliage plant, and quite a good one. A shame that it was planted immediately beside Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’, another red leafed perennial, and even more vigorous than Red Dragon.P1011937

Nearly in bloom, but still of interest, is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, with long arching leaves.  Of course, I have planted them where the leaves arch over something that you’d prefer they not, a path, or a dwarf spruce (above).P1011986

I think that should be quite enough for today. We’ll complete today’s journal with another hidden gem, sandwiched between an Umbrella pine and a large Koeheanna holly (I sense a pattern, every plant is tucked, stuffed, sandwiched, or jammed). Step over deutzia, and careful not to wobble into the rose, and here sits the daylily ‘Blackeyed Stella’, which I had forgotten was here. Perhaps I’ll remember to check on it again next year.

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