I am not disappointed when the garden looks worn and haggard in early August, and with the number of scorching hot days this summer it is a wonder there are any blooms at all. My garden is not irrigated, and I have watered only once, during the dry spell with ghastly heat several weeks back. Surprisingly, the garden looks better than expected, the blue hydrangeas have bloomed and rebloomed, the daisies (below) and coneflowers continue to flower (though I still have not deadheaded them), and late summer bloomers are right on schedule.
Only one quirk, a few of the Encore azaleas (below) are beginning to bloom, a consequence, I am certain, of the early and prolonged heat that has been more typical of the far southeastern states than of the mid-Atlantic. Still, I expect that the Encores will continue blooming into October, so these early blooms are a bonus.
The small areas of lawn are a wasteland, but the roses have performed splendidly through the heat and humidity, a testament to the resilience of Knockouts and Drift roses. Even the Flower Carpet rose (below) that dropped its black spotted leaves the past two summers has rebounded from being cut to the ground over the winter, and is flowering vigorously.
The hydrangeas have seemed indestructible this year, first, shrugging off the heavy snow, and now blooming through the extreme heat. The foliage of the bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) that are planted with more sun is a bit discolored, but they are growing and resetting flowering buds. The panicle hydrangeas (Limelight and Tardiva) are blooming heavily, with no indication in the foliage or blooms that they are suffering. I noticed today that the Tardiva hydrangea is more than ten feet tall and wide, covered in large white blooms with dozens of butterflies (below) and bumblebees darting about.
In the past week many more flowering buds of the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha, below) have opened, also a favorite of butterflies. Franklinia will bloom into late September, often more than sixty days, joining the crapemyrtles that have been in flower in the garden for many weeks, and Seven Son Tree (Heptacodium) that is just beginning to bloom.
The coneflowers have been blooming since the middle of June, but Tomato Soup (Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’, below) was nibbled by deer early in the season as it outgrew the deer repellent, so it is blooming much later than is usual. I have discovered that I must spray the repellent every two weeks when the coneflowers are growing rapidly, or the deer will recognize the unprotected portions and chew flower buds, leaves, and stems down to the parts that were sprayed. Of the hundreds of plants in the garden, only the coneflowers, and a tall growing coreopsis and a dark leafed aster have suffered any injury, so it should not require too much effort to keep on a more regular spray routine for these few plants in late June and July.
The hostas (in bloom , above), daylilies, and liriopes have been favorites of the deer in past years, but have not been damaged at all since I began to spray the repellent a year ago. The liriopes are beginning to bloom, including a tall growing mondo grass ‘Crystal Falls’ (below) that was planted earlier in the spring. I have noticed that Crystal Falls is intolerant of more than a few hours of direct sun, much more sensitive than other liriopes and mondos, but the tall arching blooming stalks are more obvious than other types, so this appears to be an excellent choice for shady gardens.
There are other plants blooming in the garden today, but the caryopteris and sedum, tansy and dill will hang around for another day, and by then the Seven Son and the liriopes will be flowering, and then more varieties of toadlilies, so there is quite a bit to look forward to.