Yellow wax bells (Kirengeshoma palmata, below) have several flowers this week, though not nearly the number from peak years when there were a dozen or more. Still, this is much better than a year ago, when fleshy stems went limp in a period of summer drought, and all flower buds were lost. In the single three week period of dry and relatively hot temperatures this summer in June, wax bells wilted for a few days, though this time they were more quickly revived and survival was never in doubt. Perhaps this is why flowering is limited, and without the unusual flowers this is an unremarkable perennial with large, maple like leaves.
Two Korean wax bells (Kirengeshoma koreana) planted in spring have no flower buds, but I see no reason for worry. These were of exceptional size and vigor from the date of delivery, and they have grown nicely. I have no doubt there will be blooms next year, unless of course, some weather event ruins buds again. Certainly, it will take several years of disappointment before I would regret planting this somewhat out of the ordinary perennial. If I planted for a one time event, this would be a problem, but I’ve been in this garden twenty-nine years, with plans to be around a lot longer.
‘Sunshine Blue’ (Caryopteris incana ‘Jason’, above) is a bluebeard with woody stems that require little spring pruning to remove dead wood, in contrast to the common yellow leafed ‘Worcester Gold’ that must often be severely pruned to cut out winter damaged stems. ‘Worcester Gold'(Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’, below) flowers a few weeks earlier, but yellow leaves fade more in the summer heat. I’m happy to include both in the garden, but ‘Sunshine Blue’ has had problems in recent years with stems that wilt just before flowering. I’m not too interested in following up to diagnose the problem. The few shrubs grew without a care for years, but if they’re going to require more attention I’m good with chopping them out.
Two newly planted daphnes are struggling a bit in ground that is probably damper than they’d prefer. I go back and forth deciding whether to move them to higher ground, or to leave well enough alone and figure that it will never again be as rainy in summer as this one. A third new daphne (Daphne × transatlantica ‘Jim’s Pride’) in a drier spot is doing wonderfully, and of course others that have been around for a while are doing what they always do, flowering. I think that ‘Eternal Fragrance’ (above) and ‘Summer Ice’ (below) have been in constant flower since the start of April, and in recent years with mild March temperatures they’ll flower from mid March into November. Both are now on their third or fourth cycle of heavy flowering, which never covers the bush, but is much more significant than the scattered flowering between these periods.
I’m seeing a slow fade from a ‘Carol Mackie’ daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie, below) that is growing out of a vigorous clump of sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis). Perhaps ‘Carol Mackie’ would do better without the competition, but it’s more finicky than other daphnes, and it won’t be much of a surprise when it finally dies off.
And finally, the stump (below) of a red leafed ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’), that perished after a long struggle with damp soil in the lower garden, was left in the ground to rot. It hasn’t gone away in a hurry, but today it’s growing this splendid mushroom. I’d rather the redbud still be here, and would rather not see mushrooms, though I’m happy with a variegated Cornelian dogwood (Cornus mas ‘Variegata’) planted close by in its place.