Color for the dog days

Who could argue that the dog days have arrived? The only contentious point could be that they began a month early this summer.

If not for the wretched, weedy lawn the garden would show few signs of the stressful heat of the past months. Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, and shrub roses show plentiful blooms, and now are joined by the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha, above) and more recently by the first blooms of the Seven Son Tree (Heptacodium miconiodes, below).

Coneflowers and daisies have begun to fade as sunflowers begin to bud, ready to welcome September in a blaze of yellow blooms. The early toadlilies are flowering and the liriopes are nearly in full bloom (Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’, below).

New to the garden this year is a tall growing mondo grass (Ophiopogon ‘Crystal Falls’, below) that more closely resembles a liriope than the more familiar dwarf mondos, but I’ve found that it is less tolerant of direct sun. For shady gardens the long narrow leaves are an excellent contrast with the broad leafed hostas, and the blooms are quite nice.

Also new is Ruella ‘Purple Showers’ (below), with purple trumpets that last only a day, but that appear day after day without fail. This one is marginally winter hardy, and it’s often noted as seeding itself about a bit too enthusiastically, but I’ve a damp piece of ground behind a wet weather pond that is a suitable location for a beauty who wants to run amuck. I’ve had aggressive spreaders that have worked perfectly, and others that have been horrors, so it will be interesting to see which it becomes, if it lives at all.

I’ve always been happy with Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium, below) for shady areas in the garden, and in past years I’ve had only minor issues with it seeding itself, but this spring there were thousands growing through the Creeping Jenny that scurries over and between stepping stones by the front pond. Though the seedlings were easily pulled, there is no joy in pulling thousands of anything.

Several of the sedums (below) are blooming now, both creeping ground covers and ones with arching stems that ramble over boulders at the edge of the stone patios. Mostly they are planted in dry areas, but wet or dry they are useful for filling crannies between stones and for tumbling over walls.

I was surprised a few days ago to see the first blooms of autumn crocus (Colchicum, below) since I expect them later in September, but the other varieties show no signs of emerging so there will be plentiful blooms still to come. The late summer is a glorious time in the garden, but I’m not so anxious to see summer go.  

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