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August 2014

July 2014

High Summer

 

Long border and tutuerIt is high summer in the garden here on the hillside right now. It is a small hill and the only 'Lucifer' in sight is the crocosmia which is blooming  flame red. Crocosmia 'Lucifer'Hydrangea leaves wilt in the sun even with ample moisture at their feet and the whine of cicadas slices through the still silence of summer. The spicy scent of tomato greens hangs in the heavy morning air as I flick the little suckers off the plants to keep the plants a bit tidier and inside their cages. My fingers turn green along with my thumb. The plants are laden with unripe tomatoes. It will be a few weeks before they turn red. This past spring was stingy with warmth. TomatoesThe tomatoes are off and running now, reaching a good five feet into the sky. It is a small forest of tomatoes. Deck view long borderIn the borders the black cohosh is blooming. Ironically, it has spikes of white flowers which bloom from the bottom up to the top. They are covered with bumbles and their scent is heavy and perfumed. Daylily days are upon us. It seems a long wait for their luscious flowers. This plant spends the spring forming a multitude of buds all of which bloom for just one day. Tragedy is rampant in a garden. Morning coffee is in one hand while the other is busy snipping the sodden messes of yesterday's blooms from the plants in order to make them photo worthy. DSC_0003It is a chore which I realize would lose its allure if I had to do it every day of the year. The days of high summer are few. PoolGarden chores are best done early leaving the hot afternoons to more peaceful pastimes.


White Elegance - Hydrangea arborescens

 

Hydrangea arborescensIf I could have only one species of hydrangea in my garden I would choose the smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens. It is native. It will grow in acid soils or in alkaline soils. It will grow in full sun or shade, even fairly deep shade. It has a lots of flowers which grow on new wood so there is no challenge to the flower bud hardiness. It is hardy from Zone 3-9. H. arborescensIt grows from Canada to Florida and west to Missouri. It thrives in Minnesota. The further north it grows, the more sun it will tolerate.  I have rarely seen a pest problem although the deer do like to nibble on the new growth. Deer repellents help with this. I walked the garden at the hour of the gloaming last night. The white flowers of the H. arborescens (I think this one is H. arborescens 'Grandiflora') glow in low light. It is elegant. H. arb closeupI am not so crazy about the 'improved' cultivar 'Annabelle' which has incredibly large flower heads. That sounds great...until it rains and they bow to the ground in humiliation paying the price for their ostentatious display. The species stands straight and tall in the rain and the large number of flowers make up for the smaller size. It is hard to find the species at the garden centers. New and improved is not always so. I have paired this plant with Persicaria polymorpha and also Fallopia japonica. H. arborescens with PersicariaIt does not really need 'pairing' but what gardener can resist? I would love it with a white flowered astilbe or a variegated brunnera. I need more of this plant. It is easy to divide. This is a task which is on the list for late fall or early spring which is after leaf drop or before the leaves emerge. White is so very elegant in the garden and for those who work long hours, returning home in the dusk or leaving before dawn, this shrub will greet you with brightness. I admit, I may be a bit jaded toward this plant as it is one of the plants I clearly remember growing in my grandfather's garden. Those memories from childhood are tainted with love and affection if one is very lucky. I guess it was inevitable that I would adore this plant.