Hello friends! I’m actually making it to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month on the actual day! I think it’s the first time this year. Go me!
Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what’s blooming in other people’s gardens all over the world.
Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly on ‘Bright Eyes’ phlox. At least that’s what I think the butterfly is.
One of my favorite views in the garden. Heirloom Phlox paniculata, Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’, and ‘Peter’s Wonder’ coleus are a study in purple shades.
Some purple dahlia I planted that’s fallen over. I need to prop it back up. This returned from last year. Sometimes they do.
Hemaris thysbe, Hummingbird Clearwing moth on P. paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ phlox.
Clematis ‘Queen of Holland’ has bloomed off and on all summer. That’s unusual.
Rain again fell on Little Cedar today. We had several pop-up showers that didn’t last long, but when I went out to take photos, it was so humid my camera lens kept fogging up. Then, I came inside and realized all my pictures were black.
Arrrgh! No, I did not forget to remove my lens cap. I have no idea what happened, but it’s all fixed now. I ran back outside and took more photos as thunder boomed all around me. I was quicker than a frog sliding into a lily pond except I hopped back inside.
We didn’t get any rain in June and July, but August has been a different story. I think over three inches fell on my little garden, and that makes my heart glad.
I returned from GWA’s annual meeting in Buffalo, NY, last week, and I’ve been playing catch-up in and out of the garden ever since. I filed two columns with two different editors today and last week. I also harvested a ton of vegetables in my potager and cutting garden. I did a little live video on Facebook of the harvest.
As for blooms, because of the rain, we’ve got some. I wandered my overgrown ornamental garden this morning, and I feel rather bad about my neglect of it. After the garden tour, I lost all interest in these beds and borders.
I can hear you clucking. I’m sorry. I just worked so hard in it that I lost myself a little. I tried so hard to make it perfect that I forgot why I even garden.
Do you ever do that?
After the tour, I ran off to Garden Bloggers’ Fling and wandered other people’s gardens on tour, grateful that they weren’t mine. When I returned home, I was still tired. I overworked myself, and there’s a lesson, or as my friend, Mary Ann, of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, would say, a pony in there somewhere. Maybe stop working so hard and trying to be so perfect? Maybe?
(Click on the photos to make them larger.)
Zinnia ‘Giant Wine’ what perfect form you have.
Zinnia ‘Giant Wine’ is one I will plant every single year. Can’t you just see a row of it with a row of the green zinnia ‘Envy?’ Plans for next year abound when I’m not so busy.
Cosmos ‘Rubenza’ from Floret Seeds. I’ve enjoyed all of her seeds this year. Bought them early spring.
Cosmis ‘Rubenza’ closeup.
Probably Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach.’
Celosia ‘Crushed Berries’ is a beauty in the cutting garden.
Celosia ‘Crushed Berries’
I’m happy to say my vegetable and cutting gardens saved the day and me in July. They just seemed to ask for nothing, which isn’t true of course. I worked steadily in them too before the tour. However, they were ready for harvest, and harvest I did. I still have tons of tomatoes on the vine. I’m going to write another post on the cutting and vegetable gardens as soon as I catch my breath. Anyway, they made me remember why I garden.
Why you ask?
Helenium autumnal, autumn sneezeweed, I bought at Bustani Plant Farm last fall.
Red fountain in potager surrounded by ‘Indian Summer’ coleus, pentas, lantana, ‘Alabama Sunset’ coleus and tropical or cape plumbago.
Plumbago auriculata, tropical or cape plumbago, with Plectranthus scutellarioides ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Alabama Sunset’ coleus. These are plants that should be in every Oklahoma garden unless you hate them of course. ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Alabama Sunset’ are both strong growers in full sun. As you can see, these are surrounded by bricks and only get water when I fill the fountain, or it rains.
Because I simply must. I’m a writer and a gardener, and I must garden and write if I am to breathe. And, in these trying times, we must all remember to breathe.
Luckily, the ornamental beds and borders, while as wild as western mustangs, are somewhat contained by their formal edges and straight lines. I’m lucky ornamental gardens are forgiving. I just wish the Monarchs I’ve been seeing would get with it and lay some eggs. I’ll bring their caterpillars inside and raise them for a new generation if they do. I have tropical milkweed and perennial Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, planted in many places–wherever it’s sunny. Oh, and if you live in Oklahoma don’t feel guilty for using tropical milkweed. It’s not going to kill your caterpillars. It dies all the way to the ground each fall so no worries. I’m saving seed this year to grow my own. I like A. curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ better than the orange one. Not being from Oklahoma State University, the University of Tennessee or the University of Texas, my favorite color is not orange.
Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’ with a Oncopeltus fasciatus, Large Milkweed bug.
Cestrum Orange Peel, Becky shasta daisies, Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Gold’, tropical milkweed and A. tuberosa, butterfly weed.
While Cestrum x cultam ‘Cretan Purple,’ purple cestrum, isn’t as dramatic as the orange version, it is still a beautiful part of the border.
I do, however, like a soft orange bloom, and some flowers are exquisitely beautiful in various shades of orange. Take agastache for example. Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia is growing in a container on the deck. I never could grow agastache in my garden. The plants always rotted about Midsummer no matter how I prepared the soil. In a weird moment of buying plants online in a snowstorm last winter, I ordered two agastache plants. When they came, I was horrified and told my friend, Faire from Fairegarden. She calmly suggested I grow them in pots since it worked for her in Tennessee. Faire is a gardening guru in my book so I tried it. When it worked so well, I bought two more. I plan to bring these inside my greenhouse this winter and keep them for next year. I just used good potting soil, but if you’re worried, you could work in some sand too. The hummingbirds and I are very happy.
Most of Oklahoma got rain night before last. The rain-soaked garden woke up yesterday morning to singing birds, crawling caterpillars and me stalking it with my camera. There is nothing more pleasurable than spring in an Oklahoma garden, except, maybe fall, but spring is being extra good to us this year.
Rain in Oklahoma is cause for celebration, and it looks like we’re in a stormy pattern for the next week or so. We need those spring rains to ready the garden for our hot and dry summer. So far, so good.
[Click on photos in the galleries to make them larger.]
Rain drenched ‘Carefree Beauty’ rose. This Dr. Griffith Buck rose is the first one of his I ever grew. It is still one of his best. It is also sold as ‘Katy Road Pink’ because it was found on Katy Road in Texas.
‘Grace’ smokebush in the back garden. I’m standing in the middle of the back garden and taking the photo from there.
Swizzle Cherry and Ivory zinnias are blooming their little heads off. I just love zinnias of all types.
Pink and yellow columbine I planted last year? Don’t remember the name.
‘Carefree Beauty’ rose blooming so well so early.
‘Fireworks’ clematis growing against the split-rail fence.
Come with me through my back garden gate.
Let’s chat about garden chores and what to do now. I’m also linking this post to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens.
So, what to do now? You can plant almost anything you want. I’m going to do another post on Monday after I get back from Bustani Plant Farm–if I get the chance–and give you a plant list of reliable garden performers. There’s really no worry of freezes unless something weird happens.
I’ve been watching the weather closely. I think we’re out of danger even though we’ve had a freeze as late as May 1 once. However, that was a really cool spring, and we’re not having one of those this year. In fact, the weather has been nearly perfect.
So, plant with abandon! I have.
Mulch with something biodegradable like shredded bark, shredded leaves or compost, although compost will degrade into the soil faster than the other two options.
Burn off weeds in gravel paths, or if you’re not organic you can spray with one of the weed killers. You can also use natural sprays, but my experience is they only do top kill and don’t get the roots. However, you will damage them enough that when the sun gets fierce, many weeds still dry up and blow away.
Plant shrubs, including roses, and trees, but make sure they have consistent water to get established.
Plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant along with other hot weather plants. Plant all of your herbs now too, including basil, parsley, and others. It’s probably too late for cilantro which bolts at the first opportunity. For salsa, I just buy cilantro at the store. You can buy great transplants at many of our nurseries and even the box stores. I’m growing several new tomatoes and peppers this year that I started from seed. I’ll detail my selections in another post.
Bill, my son, Brennan, and I are building raised beds this weekend. This time we decided to buy corners to make our lives easier. With corners, you can place the boards into the corners and voila! You have raised beds. We’re putting the raised beds where my tilled garden was the last couple of years. I’ll grow more vegetables and cutting garden flowers in this spot. We may add more beds in the future, but are only doing three for now. I’ll post about the raised beds next week and get pictures for you this weekend.
Boards for the raised beds all ready to be placed in the corners.
Where the raised beds will go.
Potager planted and cedar mulch for the gardens.
I have our regional daylily garden tour in June so I’m buying plant tags and such to identify everyone. It’s a must for daylily enthusiasts. I hope I figure out the i.d. on all of my plants before visitors arrive. I may need some “Unknown” tags for oldie goldies I love, but no longer remember their names. My garden is really about what looks good with daylilies. Although I have many daylily plants, I’m not a true collector anymore. I like so many plants.
A closeup of ‘Major Wheeler’ honeysuckle. It makes a good substitute for the ‘New Dawn’ roses that were the first casualty of Rose Rosette Disease. Plus, I don’t have to prune it much.
The lower part of the back garden has four long beds that were once vegetable beds. This OSO Easy Paprika rose, which was a trial plant, sits in the second bed from the left. It is a rock-solid beautiful rose that blooms all summer with some deadheading. I use shears.
In the same bed, ‘Purple Smoke’ baptisia sits next to ‘Orange Rocket’ barberry. I love purple and orange together.
Above, we’re down in the bottom of the back garden again. The back garden is, by far, my favorite part. I love the back garden because it’s mature and mostly takes care of itself once I get everything cut back in early spring. I weed it, plant a few annuals/tropical for more color, and then let it do its thing. I don’t even need to do much pruning because I no longer have many roses back here. I do have one ‘Belinda’s Dream’ rose, but that’s about all. Most succumbed to Rose Rosette Disease, but that gave me new opportunities especially on the arbors. I tried several plants to replace my climbing roses, but found I love orange ‘Major Wheeler’ coral honeysuckle on the back arbor. [See the photos above.]
In the middle portion of the back garden is another arbor. It was my first arbor, and this is one of the original parts of the garden planted over twenty-five years ago. Once upon a time, I had ‘Cl. Old Blush’ on this arbor, but it also died so I planted ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine and ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ coral honeysuckle. Please don’t confuse crossvine with trumpet vine. They are different plants. Crossvine is native, and trumpet vine is invasive. I caused quite a stir on Instagram and Facebook last week when I posted an afternoon photo of crossvine. People asked me where to buy it. Well, last week, I saw five plants of ‘Tangerine Beauty’ at TLC Nursery. I wonder if they had a run on the plants yet. Maybe they still have some. It is beautiful and beneficial to hummingbirds and an early pollinator nectar source.
‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine with ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ coral honeysuckle are on another arbor in the middle of the garden. Next to them I planted ‘Blonde Ambition’ grama grass.
Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine. This vine is native to Oklahoma, Texas and much of the South, and shouldn’t be confused with trumpet vine which is invasive. This photo wasn’t enhanced, but the morning sun was shining on the blooms so they are very bright.
Another view of ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine with ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ honeysuckle.
‘Dropmore Scarlet’ is a well-behaved honeysuckle that would make a great vine for any garden. I find American honeysuckles very easy to grow. The only thing they lack is fragrance, and you can plant other fragrant plants. Whatever you do, don’t plant Japanese honeysuckle. I have been trying to eradicate the start Bill brought over from his mother’s garden for nearly thirty years. I still have it in two corners of the garden, and yes, I used brush killer on it even though I hate using chemicals.
Because we’ve had rain and nearly perfect temperatures this spring, the shade gardens are showing off. I believe the single-flowering Japanese kerria is one of my best easy-care plants. I’ve given tons of it away over the years, and my first plant was from Wanda Faller. Wanda also gave me my maidenhair fern and ‘Annabelle.’ These are the backbones of my shade gardens.
However, this year, my old hostas look splendid. I couldn’t ask for better foliage. I place pecan hulls around my hostas to discourage slugs. In Oklahoma, we don’t have as many slug problems as some other gardeners, but in spring, when it’s wet, we do see the little slimy boogers. I hate them. They hate pecan hulls and eggshells. I enjoy the thought that they are in pain as they slide across these sharp objects.
Yeah, I’m mean like that.
As for hostas, I don’t often recommend them for central Oklahoma. Tulsa gardeners grow beautiful hostas, but they often get more rain and have more shelter than we do because of their rolling hills. However, if you find hostas with substantial leaves, they will often perform well even in central Oklahoma in the shade, especially the blue-green ones. Even the less substantial ones are happy this spring and last, and for the first time, ‘Empress Wu’ is looking really good. She’s substantial, but slow growing in my garden.
Shade garden on the other side of the back garden is looking good this year.
Single-blooming Japanese kerria in the shade garden on one side of the back garden.
Old hostas in one of the shade gardens.
We are replacing the split-rail fence around the back garden soon because it is wearing out again. We removed the chicken wire and will replace it with flat fence panels. It will be much easier to maintain.
Ok, with that, I’m going to leave you. I want to go outside and do a little mulching while the weather is cool and rainy. Blue skies this afternoon make this red-dirt girl happy. What’s blooming in your garden this fine spring day?