A perfect magazine garden?

Not mine, not a chance.

Where do the gardens in magazines come from? Perfect plants with spotless leaves with amazing plant combinations spaced just right.

P1012121If I photograph anything more than a closeup of a flower there are leaves torn to shreds, holes from black spot or slugs, yellowing, brown, and broken. Plants are crammed into impossibly small spaces, neighbors flop and invade others’ space, and paths and patios are hopelessly overgrown and hidden. Chaos!

I can recall a day I thought the garden looked magazine ready….. one day in twenty years! But my memory’s not what it used to be, so it was likely my imagination. Still, I can’t imagine trading places. My broken down, bug and weed infested garden will do just fine. There are blooms nearly every day of the year (I haven’t figured out flowers for mid December through late January, but have plenty indoors), and colorful leaves, needles, cones, and bark should I tire of blossoms.

When I began this journal I figured the day would come when there would be nothing in the garden to discuss. Deep into the Summer doldrums, I suspected a lull after three weeks with barely a drop of rain, but blooms are popping at every turn. Several crapemyrtles are blooming, with the holdouts heavily in bud.P1012124

The white Natchez, which blooms occasionally in mid June in northern Virginia, held out until the second week of July for me, then was closely followed by Sioux (pink), the shrub-like Burgundy Cotton (below, with dark burgundy leaves and white flowers), and Pink Velour (above). Centennial Spirit and Arapaho have plenty of buds, but are several days from blooming.P1012102

The dwarf Cherry Dazzle is loaded with buds, but won’t begin to show color for another week. This is a selection from the Razzle Dazzle series of dwarf crapemyrtle introductions, and the only one that I’ve found with some merit. I tested others and found they lacked good foliage or blooms, grew poorly in my garden, or suffered a bit of each. But Cherry Dazzle has nice dark leaves, a compact rounded shape, and is covered with red blossoms for four to five weeks. P1012117

Franklinia (above, the flower opened today and already visitors have found it) is just beginning to bloom, but has enough of a story that we’ll discuss it next week. And by that time the Seven Son tree (Heptacodium) should be in bloom, since the buds are showing the barest bit of white, so that will keep us off the street another day. P1011980

Black mondo grass is nearly past bloom, but I haven’ t fit it into past weeks’ journals, so I must before it’s outdated. It’s slow to spread (which is good if you want it to stay put, or bad if you prefer it to fill an area) and quite low care. The flowers aren’t much to see, but there they are, and a nice enough plant it is. The strap-like leaves are not truly black, but nearly so.P1012080

The amazing blooms of the Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata, above) have opened, probably late because I had to replant from a cutting taken from my sister-in-law’s garden. To keep it under some semblance of control it is easier to confine this prolific vine to a container, and last year I neglected to water it, then left the container unprotected to freeze (It’s a wonder anything grows at all around here!). It is a complexly structured, beautiful flower.P1012096

In past weeks we’ve witnessed the delightful progression of hydrangeas, and now the Pannicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are beginning their month long bloom. I’m uncertain of the name of this one (above). I thought that it was Tardiva, but the pannicles are stubbier, and another in the garden that I’m certain to be Tardiva is a week from full flower. There are a number of similar Pannicled hydrangeas, all without fault, fine plants for the late Summer. P1012100

Last week I jumped the gun and noted the yellow leafed caryopteris, bragged on it as irresistible, then featured a skimpy photo. A week later represents its beauty more fully, now run to the garden center to pick one up! On second thought, one is nice, a grouping is enchanting.P1012106

Caryopteris is a subshrub, not quite woody, so that it often requires radical pruning in early Spring to remove dead wood. Nearby in my garden, Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) requires similar treatment. Large growing types often are pruned nearly to the ground to keep within bounds, but this small, compact variety requires only pruning dead branch tips.P1012129

And finally for today, a candidate for worst color combination is the spidery flower of Dill weed entangled in a bright pink rose. I am color blind enough not to be offended by any but the most severe combinations, but this was too hideous even for me, so you must imagine the pink background. In my defense, the Dill is a volunteer that returns annually from seed, and the lacy foliage through the rose is a wonderful companion until the flowers arrive.

Definitely not suitable for a magazine.


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