Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, June 2015

Triangle bed on the left side

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, June 2015, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. If it’s June in Oklahoma, then you must know it’s all about the daylilies, or hemerocallis, if we’re being botanically literate. Here are my bloom day posts for 2014 and 2013. Daylilies are always the stars of my June garden, but sometimes the roses join the party too.

Tiered borders with green smoketree.
Tiered borders with green smoketree. ‘Ogon’ spirea is on the right.

Hemerocallis, as many of you know, means “beauty for a day,” so this botanical name makes perfect sense for a flower that only blooms for twenty-four hours and then is gone never to be seen again. Luckily clumps produce many, many flowers so we can enjoy them for two months or so, if we grow cultivars that bloom extra early and late. The latest daylily in my garden every year is ‘Autumn Minaret’ (Stout 1951.) It’s a worthy plant in any garden. Place it at the back of the border because it gets so tall. Because I have so many photos this time, I’m putting the daylilies in galleries. Just click on the smaller photos, and you can view them in a larger format.

Fortunately, we’re a week or so behind schedule, which will be good for the daylily show at Will Rogers Park Exhibition Center next weekend. I plan to be there and show off some of my plants. Daylily season should peak at the end of this week or the beginning of the next. When the daylilies are in bloom, my garden always reminds me of brightly-colored clown pants. It is a garden of many colors, varied shapes and heights. It’s crazy and joyful. I love it so.

Before we launch into total daylily addiction, I want to show you a few of my hydrangeas. They are peaking right now too. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is clearly not intimidated by all of the hydrangea newcomers added to the garden this year. Instead, she is strutting her stuff for all to see. I am ever grateful for this beautiful plant, and I’ve added starts to other parts of the garden so that her beauty will ever shine.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' from the side. You can see her in many other poses on this blog.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ from the side. You can see her in many other poses on this blog.

‘Annabelle’ is native to the U.S. and must have tons of nectar because she is a pollinator favorite. I just love those large, puffy white blooms. Don’t you? I don’t have good luck with the macrophylla hydrangeas. I know many people in Oklahoma do, but it just gets too hot and dry in my garden. H. paniculata, H. quercifolia and H. arborescens are more forgiving. As I wrote in an earlier post on perennial gardens, I’ve planted several new ones this year. They are just beginning to have their moment in the sun’s warm rays. I’m grateful for all the rain this spring and summer because it’s made transplanting easier.

Back garden with Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' and my purple chairs. The crapemyrtles are 'Pink Velour.'
Back garden with Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ and my purple chairs. The dark-leafed crapemyrtles are ‘Pink Velour.’

On GBBD, it’s easy to just show beauty shots of individual plants, but that doesn’t give you an overall picture of how the plants relate to each other in the garden. This month, I’m trying for a mixture of each. Let me know if you like it.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. There are four long beds at the end of the back garden. I once grew veggies in them. We moved the veggie garden to another spot on the hill. This is the second long bed
There are four long beds at the end of the back garden. I once grew veggies in them. We moved the veggie garden to another spot on the hill. This is the second long bed

Now, for more daylilies…. Would you like a few growing tips too?

Daylilies are shallow-rooted creatures so it’s not a good idea to plant them when temperatures are over ninety degrees. Still, one plantsman sent me three or four last week when we’d had our hottest weather yet. I planted them in the shade of other plants and watched them closely for rot. If you get a double or single fan of a particular plant, watch it closely. When you move a clump, it’s easy to keep alive, but small divisions are harder, especially when the mercury climbs. You can place a child’s umbrella over new plantings too. I’ve done that many times over the years. As for care, they don’t ask for much. Once established, they are fairly drought tolerant, but they also love water. The number of blooms you get is all determined by clump size. Fertilize with an idea of creating larger clumps. Daylilies love nitrogen. They also love shredded leaf mulch. I use both. This year, I fertilized with Back to Nature. All that manure helps increase clump size. However, I don’t do that every year because it might cause them to be over-fertilized. Aphids are attracted to clumps especially in the spring. Lady beetles will take care of some of the problem, but a blast of water from the hose end sprayer helps too. I also fertilize my daylilies at the same time I do my roses. They respond well to rose fertilizer too. I use Jobe’s All-Purpose Organic granular fertilizer for my roses. I also like Mills Magic Rose Mix. If I’m only doing the daylilies, I use a lot of Milorganite. I’ll be honest. There are a lot of good organic fertilizers out there, but I like the granulated ones and Moo Poo Tea the best.The others with chopped alfalfa blow in the wind. Plus, they mess with my asthma. I usually make the manure tea and use it in a hose end sprayer when summer has sapped the garden’s strength.

Here is another post on growing daylilies that breaks down the Four B’s to Daylily Garden Zen.

Those are my pretties for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. I can’t wait to go around and see what’s blooming elsewhere in the world. Thank you Carol for continuing this meme year after year.




Wildflower Wednesday: Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed

Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed is a great nectar plant too, and it smells like bubblegum.

About this time each year we watch Monarch butterflies float about our gardens and reflect on their silent beauty. They are in the midst of their migration down Mexico way, and they are very, very hungry. We congratulate ourselves for providing plenty of nectar plants like asters, Joe-Pye weed and goldenrods, but have we considered their offspring? Although fall is when Monarchs show their full-grown faces in my part of the world, we should also be thinking of them in spring and plant various milkweeds for egg laying.

You see, being queenly butterflies, little Monarch princes and princesses want to feast upon only one type of food, milkweeds, and this food source is disappearing throughout the United States due to land cultivation and changing times. Monarch larvae, like all members of the family Nymphalidae, brush-footed butterflies in the subfamily, Danainae, eat only milkweeds.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

So, what does that mean to gardeners throughout the world? We need to plant more milkweeds, and in America, we should grow our native ones because many are in danger of disappearing. Asclepias curassavica, although beautifully colored, is native to Mexico.

Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed pod

You think there are no native milkweeds? Au contraire, my friend. There are approximately 110 species in North America with seventy-three species native to the U.S. One of the easiest to find and grow is A. incarnata, or pink swamp milkweed. As its name suggests, it likes the wet places in your garden, and like most native milkweeds, it is a short-lived perennial. You can buy swamp milkweed at Bustani Plant Farm and Wild Things Nursery. Wild Things, which specializes in native and butterfly plants, has four, different, native milkweeds to offer including swamp milkweed. With a quick search, I also found Milkweed Farm, which has a huge selection of native and non-native types, but I’ve yet to buy from them–and it appears they haven’t updated their site in a long time.

Another good thing about our native milkweeds is that they are perennial. Although listed some places as hardy to Zones 7 thru 10, I’ve never known tropical milkweeds to be perennial in my part of Oklahoma. I also noticed when I grew tropical ones they were continually covered in aphids. I don’t usually see a lot of aphids on swamp milkweed.

Swamp milkweed has taken a couple of seasons to establish in my garden, and because the soil it’s growing in is too rich, it does tend to flop over. I might move it to leaner spot next summer. It is tall, about four to five feet and sports a lovely puff of pink blooms atop its slender stalk. The color is a dusty pink. By now, it’s into seed production, and I’ve taken many pictures of the blowing seeds. I think I’ll plant some of them in the prairie meadow garden and maybe spread a few at Mitch Park since it’s a native. Yes, that’s exactly what I think I’ll do. I’ll wait on moving my plant just in case. I don’t want to disturb any chrysalises.

If you want to help our Monarchs who had a bad winter in 2010 and now a difficult 2011 summer, plant some native milkweeds like A. incarnata. They’ll thank you by soaring to new heights over your garden. Because it doesn’t spread by rhizomes, swamp milkweed won’t take over your garden like A. syriaca, common milkweed. Plus, swamp milkweed smells like bubblegum. Yum.

This post was brought to you via our hostess, Gail of Clay and Limestone who works diligently to inform everyone about the beauty of natives in our landscapes. She sponsors Wildflower Wednesday this time each month. Many Tennessee natives are also native to Oklahoma so plant some of her suggestions too.