I returned a few weeks ago from a short trip to the delightfully cool weather of Oregon, and at the start of the week I’m off again, this time for a couple weeks touring nurseries in the southeastern states. I’ve no doubt that the temperatures will be a few degrees warmer than Portland.
I’ll leave the garden for my wife to tend, and with some good fortune there will be regular thunderstorms in the evenings so she won’t have to move the hoses around to water our large garden. It is rare that the garden needs any more water than is supplied naturally, but it has been several weeks since the last rain and with the recent extreme heat there are a few newer plantings that demand more regular attention.
Despite the heat there are many plants in bloom, and others that will begin while I’m away. The reblooming bigleaf hydrangeas (Endless Summer, Penny Mac, Blushing Bride, and Twist-n-Shout) have reset buds and new blooms should be gaining color about the time I return, and the panicle hydrangeas (Limelight and Tardiva) will be at nearly peak bloom in two weeks.
Several of the crapemyrtles are blooming, and the others will begin in a few days or a few weeks, but flowers last for a month or longer, so I will not have missed them upon my return. The large white Natchez began blooming several weeks ago, and the much smaller, dark leaved, white flowering Burgundy Cotton started showing color a week ago, with numerous buds still to open over its long blooming period. The pink Sioux, Pink Velour, and red Centennial Spirit have just begun to bloom and Arapaho looks to be a week or two from beginning to flower.
The yellow leafed caryopteris ‘Worcester Gold’ is beginning to show a few blue flowers, and the more recently introduced ‘Jason Sunshine’ (with brighter yellow foliage) will bloom a week or more later, but the most colorful display for both will be in late July though mid-August. The variegated leaf carypoteris begins to flower as the yellow leafed cultivars fad, so this will be later in August.
The buds on the flowering spikes of the pineapple lily ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’) are beginning to open at the base of the spike, and the buds will open progressively to the top over a few weeks. The dark, strap-like foliage contrasts splendidly with the variegated caryopteris as a backdrop, though I must remain vigilant to prevent the shrub from overtaking the pineapple lily.
The origins of the common names of many plants can be mysterious, but pineapple lilies are described perfectly. The foliage and blooms of the carefree, perennial bulb looks nearly identical to the tropical, fruiting pineapple, though when the flowers fade there is no large fruit to be eaten.
The tall growing, coarse foliaged plume poppy (Macleaya cordata, above) is blooming, though the large leaves are the notable feature and not the wispy flowers. This perennial has spread to cover an areas between large evergreen hollies and spruce, and a lilac and hydrangea, and though it is not aggressive I presume that it could cover more ground than intended if it is not bordered by trees and shrubs with substance.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is blooming on arching spikes just above the strap-like green leaves that flop about when they are not given a clear area to grow. With more open space the plant forms a nice, clump with leaves arching in every directions, but in this garden, and I presume others, there is seldom space to grow without a neighbor to one side or the other, so crocosmia grows from under the nandina and flops over the dwarf ‘Globosa’ spruce.
A hardy perennial fuschia grows through a carpet of Liriope spicata, and the fuschia has spread nicely despite the competition of the weedy liriope. When it was first planted I was suspicious that it could be hardy since I was aware only of the tropical types, so I planted it in an inconspicuous location, expecting that it would not survive, but it has proven to be reliable, though difficult to see on the far side of hydrangeas and a dwarf crapemyrtle.
Joe Pye Weed will tower over most shrubs, and though its foliage is coarse and “weedy”, the flowers are quite nice. There are a number of selections of Joe Pye that are not quite so tall as the native, and the one in my garden grows only to four feet. Later in the summer the dark leaved Joe Pye will bloom, and though the flowers are similar the foliage is more compact and attractive.
In recent weeks I have gone on about coneflowers (Echinacea, above, and Rudbeckia, below), and some other selections have begun to bloom. There are dozens of excellent choices that will bloom through the summer, in particular if they are deadheaded, which I am unlikely to keep up with as I travel over the next month.