Of course, the annual poppies are a great space-filler, but a few of the shrubs and perennials are doing well too, like white Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sikes' Dwarf' and purple-leafed Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'.
In the background are the purple flowers of a Monarda that I think might be 'Donnerwolke'. The hot pink is Phlox 'Starfire'. From a distance it's hard to see its leaves, which are as dark as those of the Eupatorium. In the mid-ground there is a single stem of Lilium regale, which deserves a close-up.
And so does 'Beni-Gaku', still my favourite hydrangea.
The whole plant of 'Beni-Gaku' is lovely at this time of year as the colour of the older flowers begins to deepen to a soft brick red, matching the tones of the leaves, while the younger flowers continue to be a mix of lipstick-pink, white and blue.
In the background is a young tree hydrangea, Hydrangea aspera sbsp. sargentiana, which will eventually tower over everything else.
After two and a half years of patience, my long-awaited lavender hedge along the front sidewalk has finally become a reality.
It's amazing how many people pause to enjoy it. One day I spied two little girls running their hands along the row and then through their hair. Too cute.
This area is a challenge because the roots of the street trees suck all the moisture out of the ground. At the same time, their canopy casts shade over it for part of the day, while the rest of the time it is in morning or strong afternoon sun. In winter, the sun is so low that the shadow of the house puts it in all-day shade. The lavender has coped well, although I notice it's a little less vigorous right underneath the closest tree.
Since I took the photo above, the flowers have died and I've clipped the bushes back hard.
This is the first of two clips it will get. The second one will be after it has leafed out with new growth, when I'll tidy it a bit more to even out the line.
I've tried various plants behind it, the most successful being my two compact little daphnes, Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance', either side of the path to the steps. (They are not dramatic plants to look at, but walk by and the perfume stops you in your tracks)...
...and two thistle relatives: Echinops 'Taplow Blue' and Eryngium giganteum (Miss Wilmott's Ghost), see my post of August 7, 2012 for photos. I got around to photos a bit too late this year. Even so, I rather like the bumblebee on the dying heads of 'Taplow Blue'.
All these plants prefer poor, dry soil.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy', which seems able to cope with just about any conditions, is doing well just behind the daphnes.
The pink flower in front is a verbascum, also content with its location. It may not last because it breaks my rule of "no untidy plants". In its favour, it's been blooming for months with the help of some deadheading along the way.
The bed of thyme near the back door that Michael planted with several different varieties has filled in nicely this year. I've put our rusty metal kookaburra, a gift from cousin Sal, in there to provide a little extra interest.
Also at the back, our new pergola is now fairly well covered in runner beans.
The beans are a temporary measure until I can get the more permanent vines I want.They hide the new house next door, and especially its large outside air conditioner/heat exchanger which is very close to our fence. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't do anything for the noise of this object, so we are looking into various sound-proofing options. The owners claim they don't hear the noise (!), so any solution will have to be on our side.
In the middle of the back garden Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde' is doing a fine job once again in our rusty urn.