|Inca Marigolds in deep orange bordered by Profusion Cherry zinnias.|
I thought I'd take a walk through the garden tonight with Joel's camera to record the last blooms of August. Here we are heading through the garden gate right around sunset. I had to take pictures quickly because the light conditions change so fast. Sunset is my favorite time in the garden, the shadows give great depth and mystery.
(And you can't see the weeds as well, either.)
This is the time of year I enjoy the most for now the annuals we raised so carefully in the spring take center stage. With the drought and extreme temperatures we had this year, not every plant performed as well as they usually do. In other words, plants I tried for the first time will have to have a second or maybe even third year of planting trials before I can determine if the plant is really a dud or not.
|Profusion Cherry Zinnia looking very tired in the River Bed. |
Take for instance my very favorite zinnias, the Profusion series. They have had a very hard time of it this year. This zinnia has been a fixture here in my garden for ages. However, if this had been the first year out, I doubt I would ever plant it again. Most of them look pretty ratty right now.
And some of them look worse than ratty.
Many of them have given up the ghost. Dead as a doornail.
|Looks like a color/negative shot, doesn't it?|
Depending on their location in the garden and soil conditions their appearances vary. There's a possibility some had more shade or moisture than others.
|The same zinnia, bordered by 'Crystal White' angustifolia zinnia out by the mailbox.|
The picture above is what the Cherry Profusions usually look like right up until frost. No dead-heading necessary, either. Will I plant them again next year? You bet. Though they look pretty toasted in some areas of the garden, the fact they're still alive is a testament to their worth.
The white zinnia in the picture above is another annual I adore. Zinnia angustifolia "Crystal White' may not look like much when you first plant it, but it is a powerhouse of bloom, never needing deadheading and tough as nails. Powdery mildew is very, very rare with this plant.
|Can't see the tree grates very well anymore, the hyacinth beans are covering them up.|
The white flowers at the base of the driveway beds are also Crystal White zinnias. The soil they are growing in here was downright awful when we started planting the area, mostly gravelly sand. But the zinnias can take a beating and keep on flowering.
The first picture is the west side of the driveway and the petunias are putting on a wonderful display right now. Gotta love the hay mulch we put down earlier this year, it certainly kept them going. Bubblegum pink Supertunia is in the pot (I made cuttings of these and they filled out beautifully) and the others are Grape and Pink Avalanche petunias along with a Denver Daisy rudbeckia and another batch of Inca Orange marigolds from seed.
Just another view of the same side, I was enjoying the way the evening sun was hitting the Karl Foerster grasses and the Emerald Green cedar.
I planted hyacinth beans on the tree grate trellises; well, that was a waste of time. There have been no blooms at all. Normally they would be dripping with purple flower clusters and lovely purple bean pods. But not this year. At first I thought it was because the tree grates are cast iron, and boy, the iron did get HOT when the temps soared, but even the beans planted on my normal trellis in the River Bed have failed to put out many blooms at all.
So, the poor hyacinth bean would have been another casualty scratched off my 'Stuff to Plant Again' list if I didn't know what they can do in a more normal conditions. Hey, everybody has the right to have an 'off' year, right?
Let's see the other side of the driveway:
As I mentioned, the soil in this bed started out less than desirable, but as the years go by, the mulch breaks down, improving the fertility. The little white flowers are the zinnia angustifolias again, but the bigger blob of white on the right is Tidal Wave Silver petunia. I wasn't sure if my seedlings would survive out by the road, but I guess I have my answer. The Tidal Wave is starting to climb the cedars. This is the first year I've planted them directly in the ground, and it won't be the last. If they can handle the heat of a gravel driveway and tree roots to compete with, they are keepers for sure.
The hyacinth beans on the east side of the driveway really look pathetic, though I kinda like their leaves softening the cast iron.
|Willie the Willow and Ernie, two year-round companions in our driveway.|
Ernie the Urn, sporting his Bubblegum Supertunias, wanted to get in on the act, too, so here is a dramatic side profile of his rugged good looks. The petunias in the foreground, among the Dusty Millers (which also wintered over and came back this summer---gosh, we had a mild winter!) are seedlings coming into bloom for the first time this year as volunteers from Ernie's parent plants.
Willie is a massive willow tree already. I had to smile when I overheard some garden visitors gazing up into his branches and canopy and wondering how old he was.
"I wonder if anyone will ever know how many years this tree has been here?"one of them asked the other. "Can you imagine what tales this tree could tell of how things have changed in all the years it has lived?"
Well, I know how old Willie is.
I hated to burst the bubble of our visitors, though, because they thought he was Ancient. Somewhere around here is a photo of me, sitting on our brand-spanking new electrical power box with what looks like a feather in my hair. The 'feather' was Willie who was planted just behind the power box. I was 20 years old and Willie was just a sprout then. He was given to us as a little whip that had been rooted in a pail of water by Carl's late uncle, Jack. When we planted the tiny branch, we had no idea it would survive in the sand, but we kept watering it. Apparently he liked it here.
|Found the picture....there's me and Willie waaaaaayyy back in 1978. (Time was kinder to Willie.) And that hayfield is our garden now. |
We have worries about him falling over and landing on the house some day, and have done some preventative pruning here and there. Weeping willow trees are not for everyone; so many visitors say they like the look of the tree, but would never plant one due to their messiness. I don't feel Willie is any more or less messy than any other tree, really. Yeah, he loses twigs here and there, that's for certain, and he needs his bangs trimmed every so often, but he is so well-behaved, allowing hostas to thrive right up to his trunk. No roots to deal with, considering his size.
|St. Fiacre enjoys the shade along with Gold Standard hostas and a climbing hydrangea. |
And the shade he casts is a cool oasis on a hot summer day. Willie is
the first tree to leaf out in the spring and the last to lose his leaves
in the fall. In fact, we've had snow on the ground in both spring and
summer and there's Willie, wearing his green in spring and bright yellow
in the fall. No other tree has the graceful movement in a passing
breeze. For all Willie does around here, I can put up with his
As long as we're still in the driveway, there's my lightshades full of petunias. Once the flowers fill out, you can't tell what they're planted in. The planters really look tough now, though. I didn't trim them back the way I should have and along with the blazing heat, they've been through a lot. But they're still doing their best to blossom.
The hoses add a nice touch, don't they? Ooops.
Ok, enough with the driveway already, let's head for the Pachyberm out on the front lawn.
My favorite time of year with the ornamental grasses is here.....they're blooming. I can't capture the essence of the way light plays on them, though.
The miscanthus is eating the pathway, but that's ok.
More miscanthus, Emerald Green cedars and Cassia Alata seedlings in the foreground from my friend and fellow blogger, Cindy aka Tufa Girl in Fort Worth, Texas. I was so hoping to see the cassias bloom, but I don't think our growing season is long enough.
The leaves are so exotic, I'm going to try to germinate some more of the seeds next spring and try again. Cindy, if you're reading this, I love this plant!
Another oddity this year were my castor beans, which should be towering in the range of six+ feet by now. Well, they're about two feet tall, but they're still growing.
|Two foot tall castor beans and cassias. But they're pretty.|
Cindy said the cassias would be just about the same size as the castor beans. And they are both short this year. I feel bad about the castor beans too.....I had 'blue' castor beans one year and thought I'd saved the seed. Well, apparently I saved the wrong seed because all of my crop this year is red. Drat. I'll have to germinate some more next spring and see if I can 'find' the blue ones.
|Castor Beans finally flowering.|
|Silver grass doing what it does best, reflecting light.|
|Karl Foerster lighting up the yard behind the house.|
|And another specimen out by the road with zinnias and salvias.|
|Gotta hurry up, it's getting darker out. Pachyberm with assorted grasses and some struggling rudbeckias.|
|Moving on to Thing One and Two bed|
We limbed up all the cedars over by the little foot bridge this summer. At first we had one of those 'what have we done' moments, but now it's growing on us. There are new vistas to enjoy now instead of straggly limbs lying on the ground.
Of course, we had to move some rocks in to the area. The way the sunset lit up this one caught my eye.
The begonias have finally taken off down by the dry river bed. The tree in the background is 'Fat Albert' dwarf spruce, kept as small as possible by my amateur pruning efforts.
Let's head to the Formal Garden. Now the mosquitoes are bugging me, gotta step it up a bit.
The plantings in this garden didn't do much at all, but there's some color. I'm thinking of moving more hostas down here as the crabapple trees mature. The inside walls need straightening, too.
Follow me to the Quarry. Nope, there ain't much water. But what can we do? Did I mention we lost our big koi this year? Raccoons came when the water was even lower than this and somehow cornered the twelve year-old fish. Judging by the huge scales we found lying on the shore, the pests had a fish dinner. Oh, we felt SO bad. I just hope the end was quick.
|Looking down from the top|
|Up from the bottom, lol.|
From the Quarry to the Formal Garden.
|The back wall of the Quarry. See the sand on the fourth level? Woodchucks have been digging. SIGH!|
|Goldsturm rudbeckias are still blooming, but even they are starting to wane. |
|Really getting dark here...trusty Aermotor windmill in background.|
|Little closer......I moved the potted petunias here after we yanked out all the Indian Summer rudbeckias. And can you find the live trap in this picture? Trying to catch the woodchuck who keeps on DIGGING holes everywhere!|
|The bees are building nests under the cut stones needing mortar. Carl used the flame thrower and changed their minds a bit.|
Heading to Aaargh....Carl worked all afternoon battling the wasps. We may be good to go tomorrow morning, but we'll be cautious. In the picture above, the circle is going to be a round window.
Heading over to the main hosta beds, the Royal Standard hostas are blooming now on the right. Love their fragrance.
I had no idea the impatiens would thrive in this area as well as they have. Just another oddity chalked up to the weather.
Heck, they're making our bigger rocks look puny.
Ok, almost done on this walk-through. Getting really, really dark.
What have I learned from this growing season's successes and failures?
You can't control the weather.
"If at first your plants don't succeed........
Try, Try, Again."
There's always next year, and we gardeners are an Optimistic Bunch.
Hope you all have a great Labor Day Weekend!!