On a lark, I thought it apropo to write about the annual, Larkspur. It just so happens, according to the florist industry, to be the flower for July. This flower's appearance is very close to the perennial, Delphinium and is in the genus Delphinium consolida.
Now this got me thinking... how many things on the web can I find about this plant? There just so happens to be everything from towns to songs entitled Larkspur. The plant originated in Europe and the Mediterranean. It is prolific in zones 3-8 and it generally will reseed itself.
Larkspur is also poisonous to both animals and humans. I read that it is one of the largest causes of wiping out cattle in the Western United States. This is surprising to me because Foxglove is also toxic and so are daffodils. Poisonous plants usually are not bothered by animals in my garden. Bunnies and rodents instinctively stay away from them. Then it occurred to me, how stupid are cows? You would think their brains would be so much bigger and smarter than Peter Cottontail and his Mickey Mouse rodent friends. Huh, so much for brain size matters... which also took me back to the mouse trials in pyschology 101. Guess I should have paid more attention in class.
Larkspur comes in a variety of colors and is beautiful in cut flower arrangements. It is said that they got their name because of the spur on the end of the flower and the part that attaches to the stem looks like the tail of a lark. Hmm... and you thought they were just pretty!
Now for a little larkspur music! Hit it boys! The Larkspur Song
I know that patience is a virtue... but c'mon... this drought and heat of summer was an absolute kill joy when it comes to being enthused about what to plant in my garden... so I am supposed to get you excited... and I'm gonna do it come hell or high water because this too shall pass and next year you will thank me! Whew... English teachers... don't look at that sentence... please... its a thought ok????
Plant of the season... here it is : tada... drumroll! Caryopteris! You are going to flip over this one! I did, you can't kill it. It's a great perennial. It likes shade. It likes sun. It likes dog pee. Some call it Blue Spirea... this delightful late bloomer (blooming now - people!) is a magnet to butterflies and a big asset in the late summer border. Caryopteris has a true blue flower and is truly hardy. Oh I know, you've heard me say this before. Ok... I may have said the same thing about chicory... no... I don't think I said the same exact thing. I would never compare! Ok... I'm rambling. I do seem to like blue plants... do you think I am a bit blue... perhaps I should check my mood? hmmm.... Back to Caryopteris...and perhaps some Chaka Khan music!
The Caryoteris in our gardens are hybrids of several Asian species. The flowers Are generally blue, although pink forms do exist. Butterflies and bees love them and are attracted to the flowers. The flowers are said to have a slight scent, although I have never noticed it.
Reseeding Caryopteris, is somewhat difficult, therefore it is usually purchased as in plant form. They do well in shade and full sun. The plant is hardy from Zone 9 to at least Zone 5. In Zone 5 Caryopteris may die back to the ground, but make substantial growth in the spring and will bloom by late summer. Caryopteris blooms on new wood, so all winter damaged wood can be safely pruned off in early spring without losing the flowers. They begin blooming in late summer and continue until late frost. Keeping dead flowers trimmed off on the plant prolongs bloom. I like to have them bloom as long as possible... the last hurrah so to speak!
So there you have it... My favorite variety is Longwood blue. It has nice silvery gray foliage. Sunshine Blue has golden leaves and deep blue flowers. Pink Chablis has Pink flowers. There are several other varieties you may find at the nursery. These are my picks!
Next week I will talk about fall clean up in the garden and how we can put the mess to sleep... what we can salvage and what we can spruce up. I am hoping that my leaves turn golden and beautiful this year and not just fall off the trees brown from lack of water. Do your rain dances people! Peace out!
After I came home from the shore this weekend... my pineapple sage was brutally burned... hopefully cutting it back and keeping it watered will bring it back
Bob Dylan may not have had my herb garden in mind when he wrote, "Knocking on Heaven's Door"... but when I came home from the shore this weekend.... it was the certainly on my mind .... WE NEED RAIN DESPERATELY... AGAIN!!!!!
Unfortunately, when it comes to perennials or any plant for that matter, there isn't a lot you can do to alleviate sunburn. Your only choice is to remove or cut the sunburned leaves from the plant and water like hell. Make sure you have good drainage. You don't want to drown the plant to death... you then have another problem. Hope for new growth! You can use a light fertilizer. Now with fewer leaves you may need less water and you may want to watch and baby it a little just make sure it drains and stays moist. Ok.... I'll let you know how my herb garden progresses. Hopefully it didn't go too far south and will rebound. Till then it doesn't look like I'll be having fresh basil on my tomato and mozzarella,unless I pay for it.... BUMMER!
Of course, I've got to paint it, don't be ridiculous! Imagine a robins egg blue with a bit of a bronze patina. Oh if only it wasn't raining today!
I found this armillary on the side of the road. It's basically in perfect condition. It spins and everything! I absolutely adore it and it was free. How's that?
Savvy gardeners realize that flowers aren't the only plants that make our hearts go pitter patter. Foliage and a kaleidoscope of fruits and berries can also get our motors running. As I've told you (for those keeping track... millions of times), I have very little sun in my heavily tree canopied garden. I used to whine, at the flower shows, estate tours and occasionally at a garden center. For years, my garden didn't have a chance against my expectations. Visions of sun loving, rose vined trellises and bright colored perennials danced thru my dreams! Then thru a SSLR (serious shade lover's rehabilitation) I found color, and berries, and the challenge filled my void.
On that note: I introduce a few of my enablers!
Porcelain Berry vine
Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora): intoxicatingly fragrant! The flowers are delicate and profuse. This is a deciduous vine that gracefully blooms in the fall. The scent is sweet and jasmine- like. I think they will grow almost anywhere. Mine is located in the poorest of conditions and puts on quite a show every Fall.
Climbing Hydrangea ( Hydrangea petiolaris): Climbing Hydrangea boasts an exceptional vining along with a shrub like habit. Flowering in midsummer, it climbs without support, so just give it a wall, arbor, or structure to grow against and up it goes! Its white flowers, rich green foliage and stricking exfoliating bark creates interest every season.
So there are a few of my favorites...hope you try at least one of them! Let me know if you have a particular "whine" about your garden.
If you are like me, lists are so helpful in general. It feels so good to check off the things that need to be done. Its a great sense of accomplishment to complete and check even the smallest task. So here goes: You can print and cross out the important things you need to do to prepare your garden for Fall.
Water: All of your plants will thank you from a good drink. Trees need lots of moisture to make it through the next few months. Fall is typically cooler and a little damp, so keep this in mind. Watering deeply, particularly if you sense a dry spell will ensure healthy shrub and tree roots.
Clear away debris from beneath plants: Debris can harbor diseases that may overwinter. Especially important to clean up under roses. Discard any rose leaves with black spot.
Amend your soil: Get the ground ready for next year's plantings and this year's bulbs. Adding compost, peat and humus can be so beneficial to not only your soil texture but the health of your plants.
Bulb Selection: Now the fun begins! Choosing your bulbs is like choosing the colors of Spring. Order the bulbs in the colors you want and pay close attention to staggering the bloom times so that Spring will be filled with lots of color. Bulb catalogs will note whether the the flowers will bloom early, mid or late Spring. *Note* that daffodils are naturally toxic to critters such as moles and voles, so they will multiply and flourish year after year without getting eaten. Many of the other type of bulbs, especially tulips, are delicacies to the underground varmits. I plant extra of them hoping that to have enough for both me and the critters. Planting them at the recommended depths and adding more year after year seems to work for me.
Shrubs and Trees: Early fall planting gives new plants enough time to get their roots established before they go dormant in the winter. The temperatures are cooler and allow for successful acclimation.
Plant Fall Annuals: Summer blooms are coming to an end and now is the time to plant colorful mums, asters, cabbages and kale to take their place. I often change all my potted arrangements and add in a few pansies. Pansies are great because they will winter over into Spring! The tapestry of fall foliage is beautiful and can really set the stage for Autumn.
In the next couple of weeks, I'll have a mid fall checklist for you! Have fun, especially with the bulb selection! I know its difficult to take the time and plant something when you won't see the results until Spring. Don't let this be a deterrent! You will thank me next March, April and May!
Found this picture on my iphone. Had forgotten that I had taken it! My son and I went to feed the Koi for a friend of his while they were on vacation. This is one of five ponds on an acre lot. Much of the lot has been kept natural except for the ponds spilling into each other. It was beautiful. The owner had set up motion detected sprinklers to scare off herons. I would love to sit there today in an adirondack chair with some iced tea... thought you might like to come along!
As a landscape designer, sometimes I get in a rut! I use the tried and true color variations thru out my designs and they have become somewhat of a signature stagnant to my creativity. I need my artistic side to be released and to think outside the box in order to satisfy my "design diva" side. Today, I am designing a focal point in a clients front yard.... not an elaborate design... and not a huge budget. However, it does need a huge makeover and I can't just do a cookie cutter design and be done with it. My client: a really sweet woman that I have thoroughly enjoyed working with, has been through 4 designers and deserves something special. So here is my design. You will notice that the tree in the center island bed has not been labeled yet. That is because I haven't decided exactly what to put there.
I need your input: These are a few of my choices for you. Please, I'm dying to know what you think! The front landscape gets eastern exposure, which allows us endless possibilities! I really want something that blooms in July or August, in order to stagger the bloom timeline. However that is not necessary, if I find something with the right pizazz!
Lagerstroemia indica, commonly called Crape Myrtle
This one is Tuscarora with gorgeous, coral color! Client's home is pale yellow. I am leaning to this one... especially for the color!
Cercis canadensis, commonly called Eastern Redbud
This variety is, Forest Pansy. Love the heart shaped red leaves, adore the purple blooms. Drawback: blooms in Spring and it could compete with the color of the Thundercloud Plum on the corner. If I chose this one, I would change the Thundercloud plum to something like a Crabapple or Stewartia.
commonly called Sourwood, Sorrel tree or Lily of the valley tree
Not quite as showy, but it blooms July and August! Kind of reminds me of an Andromeda in tree form. Ohhhh... and bonus... it's fragrant!
Ok, you choose... I promise to take before and after pictures!
Pretty early this morning, I was in my garden to hose things down a bit... storms splashed up debris on my garden furniture and patio. The plants could use a drink - its going be hot,hot, hot here today! Plantings and potted flowers have performed superbly, due to
my hard work mother nature watering much more than I do. However, it is August and blooming is in its slow down mode.
This time of year is what my grandmother referred to as the "last hurrah" for blooming. Soon I will be planting mums, gathering pumpkins, and kicking brightly colored orange leaves as I walk down the garden path. More time for contemplation, makes me think of what I
just gotta have need in my garden for next year! Here are some of the items on my wish list. What do you lust after (stay on the garden trail here, girls)?