Well, friends, January hasn’t been an easy month so far.
When I read what I just wrote, it is such an understatement. My sister died suddenly on New Year’s Day, and I haven’t felt like doing much, including writing, but writing is what I do, so I decided to blog even though this post may be more personal than usual. I need to do anything that brings me peace and solace during this sad time, and writing is one of those things.
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.