This Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, you get two, two for the price of one. I’m still working on the book, and I’m too tired to think about much of anything. Early this morning, I went out and took photos. The garden is in between bloom stages. I’m going out to trim up the roses this afternoon once my self-imposed word count is reached. Blogging, for me, is an inspiration exercise. I find that if I warm up writing here I can do the hard stuff later.
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is held the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Foliage followup is on the next day every month and is sponsored by Pam of Digging. Carol lives in beautiful, green Indiana, and Pam resides in quirky and drier, but still lovely Austin. I feel fortunate I’ve visited both of their gardens. Wait, I haven’t seen Pam’s new one, but maybe next time I travel south.
Above are two photos of my garden in August 2013. What a difference a year and about forty inches of rain makes. Does anyone remember the song “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & the Gang? I am really dating myself here, but I was a wee lass. The tropicals I planted in our cooler-than-normal spring are starting to take over. Most of the color in my garden now comes from leaves. Consider tropical foliage plants next year at planting time because we probably won’t have a rainy summer like this one for another fifty years. Perhaps, I’m wrong, but either way, betting on tropical foliage is right on the money.
I’ve hardly watered all summer. No lie. I put water in the fountains, and there were a couple of weeks where I thought we were in for another hellacious summer, but no. Plants are fat and sassy instead. Just to give you an idea of last year, see August 2012. From the closeups, it looks pretty good, but the bed facing the street is surrounded by burned up grass, and the clumping bamboo is yellow in the garage border. I just couldn’t keep it watered enough. I love that clumping bamboo. I also love ‘Fireworks’ Pennisetum purpureum. Don’t you?
Another group of plant deriving most of their color from leaves is coleus. Their botanical name has again changed so for our purposes here, I’m just calling them coleus. I am tired of taxonomists botanical name tossup so I’m not playing today. In articles I must, but not on my blog. ‘Bonefish’ is a new coleus from Hort Couture. I bought most of the Under the Sea coleus collection this spring, but Bonefish is my favorite, and no, they aren’t paying me to say that. I just like it especially against chartreuse sweet potato vine and ‘The Line‘ coleus. It doesn’t get much prettier.
You can’t control everything though. See the holes in the sweet potato vine? Those were caused by young grasshoppers. I had a dream last night where I sprayed the garden with poison to kill them all, but then I woke from that nightmare. The Nolo bait is starting to take effect as is the cooler weather.
Crinums are pretty, but they take up a lot of room. Just sayin’. I have a dark one in the lower garden, and I’m bringing it into the greenhouse this winter. I guess I’ll be heating that puppy after all. The crinum, above, is cold hardy to Zone 7 according to Grumpy. I’m in 7a to 6b so yes, it is.
There are so many coleus now from which to choose. I think I have twenty different ones in this garden if I include the pots. I can’t possibly remember all of their names. I’ve started choosing them based upon color and past performance. Aren’t we the luckiest gardeners ever?
Below is a bloom. Petunia ‘Fancy Dress’ is a crazy thing. I like it. It was in Keeyla Meadows’ garden too. She placed it against a hot pink fence. I took a pic of it which you can see in my previous post about her garden.
I took this closeup of ‘Lo Lo’ because the rest of the surrounding plants are much taller. It decided to grow shorter this year. No, I didn’t dig my dahlia bulbs. These are in the garage border, and they get lots of protection in this microclimate. Figure out where your microclimates are and use them wisely to stretch your hardiness and heat zones.
It’s a good thing the garden hasn’t needed much tending because I haven’t had much to give it this summer. I’ve been too busy writing. One thing I did do in early spring was start my own seeds. I wanted some plants I hadn’t seen much in Oklahoma. Ornamental peppers were part of this seed starting madness. You do see them sometimes, but unfortunately not as often as we should, and it’s our own fault. Peppers need heat to bloom and flower. In spring, greenhouse growers don’t have a plant at full maturity for you to see, and shoppers only want what’s in bloom. This causes all kinds of problems. We must stop buying plants based upon “pretty.” We are doing a disservice to ourselves and the industry. Read tags. Scan QR codes on your cell phone and look at photos of the full grown plant. Consumers have the power because we control the dollars.
Ornamental peppers are just one example. Alternantheras are another. Both deserve a place in our gardens because they mature when we need that gorgeous foliage. I grew ‘Jigsaw’ and ‘Purple Flash’ on a whim. I’m glad I did.
The plant below is another example of something you won’t see at the box stores. I’m not anti-box. You know that, but most plant growing is done on a large scale these days. Large trucks transport racks and racks of plants so all must be a certain height at the four-inch pot size and blooming.
Isn’t that kind of crazy?
I bought Orthosiphon stamineus (white cat’s whiskers) at Bustani Plant Farm in the spring. Steve and Ruth grow their own plants so they offer the special and unique. Plus, they have photos alongside each plant to show it at blooming stage which may happen mid-summer. I’m so grateful to buy unique plants that I’ll promote them anyway I can. I’m a plantaholic, and I’m not ashamed to say so.
Do yourself a favor and pick plants that are unusual and have excellent foliage color. Buy at the box stores, but support your local growers too. Your garden and local economy will thank you. Happy Bloom and Foliage Days!
Goodness Dee, I knew your garden would look good from all the rain but, it looks even better…fantastic, I agree with the other commenters, the coleus are wonderful.gail
Thanks Gail. The coleus cover up a multitude of gardening sins.
Don’t we just love rain? Our town has mandatory water restrictions in place… not enough snow in the mountains last Winter. Our gardens dance a happy dance each time the thunderstorms roll in. Your gardens are obviously VERY happy.
Hi Carolyn, I think Oklahoma City still has watering restrictions in place, but out here in the country, we don’t have them. Although OKC got lots of rain, they took water from western Oklahoma so they’re being extra cautious I guess.
Wow, 40 inches of rain and not having to water? Oklahoma sounds like heavenly this year. Such a contrast to your dry years, right? Those coleus are incredibly colorful, but the ornamental peppers are my favorite. Do come down and see my new garden sometime. It’s very different from the old one.
Pam, I know! It’s just weird. We’ve never had a summer like this in my entire gardening life. Before that, I don’t remember much about weather. They say that this won’t occur again for another 100 years. I love ornamental peppers. I’ll grow even more next year. They are wonderful because the fruits hang like small lanterns or Christmas lights from the foliage. I do want to come visit one day if I ever get to Austin again.~~Dee
It looks great, Dee. I love the Coleus and Sweet Potato Vine combo–I often pair them, too. My grass and many plants are once again crunchy, since we haven’t had measurable rain since late July. Not as bad as last year, but I don’t like it. I’m getting a workout lugging water around, though.
Thank you so much. Lugging water is no fun. Because we’re normally in some kind of heat or drought stress, I haul a lot of water myself most years. I’m so sorry you’re doing it this year.
I love the individual plantings, but it is the lushness and the bright color that pulls me in to the gorgeous photos of your garden. I have been pruning and cleaning up in the garden this afternoon so I may be a little more sensitive than normal to lush and brightly colored plantings right now…thank you for the wonderful guided tour.
Donna@Gardens Eye View
Love all the coleus Dee…especially the Bonefish. So unusual.
Love the cat whiskers!! Was just in Edmond, OK and noticed how green and pretty everything was so am glad to hear you got the rains as well. Have you heard of the Bulb Hunter, Chris Wiesinger? He has a Facebook page and a web page. He rescues and propagates the old fashioned bulbs. He has several varieties of crinums.
Lisa at Greenbow
I like your mix of blooms and foliage. Everything looks spectacular this August. So robust for this time of year.
I love your Iresine and Alabama Love coleus combination. Gorgeous!
Your garden is amazing. It has such a wonderful feeling…it is hard to explain that to those who don’t garden, but I am sure you have those feelings every time you walk through or just sit there for a bit.
I look forward to your book.
That white cat whiskers is wonderful, I dont think I have seen it here. I agree totally about buying from smaller suppliers/growers and buying the more unusual plants.
I think Austin should rehost the spring fling so we can go and nose at Pam’s garden
Susan NC Price
On your comment that it’s O to buy from the big box stores: I occasionally buy herbs and vegetables from big-box or grocery stores, if I find just what I want and it’s cheap, but this recent article has me leery of buying any flowering plants there, and especially any annuals, because I want a bee- and butterfly-safe garden: http://blogs.mprnews.org/statewide/2013/08/plants-used-for-bee-habitat-might-kill-bees/
Dee, your garden is looking wonderful! The photos are so pretty. I love the many varieties of coleus too. A question : have you grown “John Fannick phlox”? If not, I wanted to give it a recommendation! It’s tall and full, packed with big, fluffy pink and white blooms. It thrives even in the hottest summers, and it stays in bloom for a LONG time. It’s not too bothered with bugs, somehow. Very tough. I wish it were more readily available in all the plant stores. No other phlox I’ve tried has performed like the John Fannick variety. Not even close.
Your garden is breathtaking! What is your book about?
My book is called the 20/30 Something Garden Guide, a no-nonesense, down and dirty gardening 101 for anyone who wants to grow stuff. It’s about veggies and other good things. Thanks for asking! Here’s a link to the book’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-2030-Something-Garden-Guide/188260154678242?ref=br_tf
I vote, assuming I get a vote, that the roses remain wild and free. Great color combos… you seem to be getting bolder and bolder. We’ll see if you end up a madman or a genius.
Oh, the roses will always be wild and free. I don’t think madman or genius are mutually exclusive.