The garden in late August


From the first peek of color to the the last fading bloom one crapemyrtle or another will be in flower in the garden from June into September. The white flowering ‘Natchez’ and pink ‘Sioux’ (below) have behaved oddly this summer, blooming sporadically early, but more heavily in early August when they should be fading. I attribute this to encroaching shade from two thriving ‘Heritage’ river birches (Betula nigra) planted in the damp soil at the corners of the rear property line that are aligned to block the mid morning and evening sunlight.

The Seven Son Tree (Heptacodium miconioides, below) is referred to as a northern crapemyrtle, and indeed its multi trunk form and peeling bark are similar. Seven Son’s clusters of late August white flowers are not as showy, but the blooms are followed by red-purple calyxes that are quite attractive, and so there is color for nearly two months. Seven Son is a vigorous grower, though it would prefer to be a large shrub and some attention is required to prune away lower branches to keep its multi trunked tree form.

On sunny afternoons the Seven Son is buzzing with activity, with hundreds of bees and handfuls of butterflies darting between blooms. Yesterday, I was lounging by the swimming pond, watching the sun set behind the tall katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) when a hummingbird caught my attention. First, it swooped down to the blue flowering caryopteris, then quickly up to the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha, below), then to the Seven Son before disappearing in the twilight.

Through the years I have had projects fail horribly, and when I told my wife that I was going to string cables along the roofline of the summer shade house to guide the passion vine (Passiflora, below) she was quite skeptical, imagining the unmannerly vine drooping from the cable and obstructing the path below. I am pleased to report that the cable has worked splendidly, and that (at least for the moment) the vine is mostly well behaved. I initially underestimated the vigor with which the passion vine grows, so the cable has been extended (twice), and for next year I plan to route a second cable along the other side of the shade house.

Over the past week there have been several rain showers, and though the soil remains quite dry there has been a noticeable improvement in the garden. Sad looking foliage has perked up, and of course weeds have jumped, so there’s a bit of labor to be done to keep things from getting out of hand. Heavy rains are forecast for the weekend, so I’ll try to knock out a few areas in the morning before the rains start, and perhaps I’ll catch up on whatever else is blooming by the start of the week.

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