Saturday, 17 September 2016

Playing catch-up: July - August

I've had too many other commitments these last couple of months to do more than take a few photos as the garden moved from the profusion of June into a more challenging period, with roses turning brown, peonies shedding petals and hostas suddenly displaying punch holes of slug damage. This is when I usually start thinking about late-blooming perennials whose growth will disguise the decline of their forerunners. I can't do much about the fading roses, other than pull the old petals off the ones that don't naturally drop them. Almost all of my roses are once-blooming, so there's no point in cutting them back. A little forebearance now will bring the reward of bright rosehips later on. In fact, Rosa pimpinellifolia, the earliest to bloom, is quick to transform flowers into shiny black hips.

Rodgersia 'Maurice Mason', looking so sparkly pink in my last post, greeted the start of August by changing to rich red.

Hydrangeas started to dominate both front and back gardens. In the front, my favourite 'Beni-Gaku' was at its peak in July

... and still looking good in a month later.

Rosa glauca behind it flowered in complementary colours,

... but also changed from month...

... to month.

 Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea' now dominates this north-western bed. I'm hoping I can control its growth so that there is room for these three plants to continue their harmonious association.

 Farther away , Allium sphaerocephalum, having started two-tone...

... gradually became entirely purple.

At the same time Nandina 'Plum Passion' by the east fence produced flowers that matched the house across the street from ours.

I'm debating whether to keep these Nandina. They have the advantage of a narrow profile and evergreen foliage with leaves in a pleasing mix of dark green and purple, but in this location they seem to succumb to mildew by the time August rolls around. And much as I like this house and flower combination, the orange colour doesn't play nicely with most of its seasonal companions.
I had planted several 'Golden Splendour' lilies in front of them, but I dug them up once they'd flowered. They are such a bright yellow that they set my teeth on edge.

In a different garden with different companions they'll be much happier - and so will I.

The northeast corner of this bed has seen a big change as Rosa 'Dupontii' went off to UBC Botanical Garden and I replaced it with Enkianthus 'Red Bells'. It's a difficult location that gets shade all winter and hot afternoon sun most of the summer. Roots from the street tree suck moisture from the soil in all seasons. I gambled on the rose getting enough sunshine at the right time to encourage bloom, but it grew lanky and flowered sparsely there. The Enkianthus should cope better as long as I give it enough water while it's young. It seems tiny right now, but should eventually get to about 6 feet.

With its red stems, pretty dark pink flowers and red-gold fall foliage, it should give me something of interest in that anchor spot for most of the year.

The leaves of Rhododendron schlippenbachii,  perhaps reacting to the same dry soil (even though I try to keep it well-mulched) are making quite a statement up against the house. It may not reflect best gardening practice but I rather like the combination and the rhodo seems to cope.

Meanwhile, there's more variety in the larger back garden. Globe thistle (Echinops ritro) has been spectacular as usual, continuing to attract bees and other nectar-seeking insects.

Lobelias add some vibrant colour, especially L. 'Victoria' with its dark foliage and scarlet flowers.

Lobelia syphilitica is less vivid, but a lovely sky-blue.

 Lysimachia ephemerum also puts up a spike of small flowers that appears from a distance to be pale grey, a colour I haven't found in any other plant. Even before it flowers, its pale grey-blue foliage is attractive. My plant is young and I'm looking forward to it making a more assertive clump in future years.

Around it and elsewhere throughout the garden, the poppy seeds I scatter in blank spots have all sprung to life at random intervals in various unexpected colours,

... and then shed their papery petals, leaving clusters of attractive seedpods.

Some other annuals also showing off include a pot of Acidanthera, one of my favourite short-lived bulbs,

and 'Phoenix' an unusual climbing nasturtium with toothed petals.

 By July the dark stems of Angelica gigas 'Vicar's Mead' have risen above their feathery purple foliage and put out curious buds ...

that soon open into flat-topped clusters of tiny flowers.

In bloom they are a magnet for bees and later on I'll leave the seedheads to attract goldfinches and other seed-eating little birds. Of course, when a million seedling sprout next spring I may regret my generosity.  
Birds, and an occasional dragonfly are also coming to this area to enjoy the water in my rusty birdbath under the old pear tree.

 On the fence at the back of the same bed, 'Gravetye Beauty', a late-blooming Texas clematis that I bought last year, is producing a few elegant flowers.

...while around the edge, groundcovers like Oreganum 'Kent Beauty'

 and Lonicera crassifolia, a tiny creeping honeysuckle, are providing some low-level interest.

Early-blooming clematis have already gone to seed. 'Willy' is always enchanting with a combination of fluffy and spidery seedheads on adjoining stems.

They get some competition from Paeonia obovata var. alba, which has to have one of the most startling seedpods.

I've been surprised to see flowers on Hellebore 'Pink Frost' at this time of year. They are not pink like the winter blooms but an interesting shade of chartreuse, greener than the sunlit photo would suggest.

Along with all the visual pleasure from the ornamentals, we've been enjoying the produce from our vegetable garden. Young carrots were particularly delicious,

... and with August coming to a close, our apples were almost ready to pick.

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