The Roses of Summer

My favorite rose started blooming in late May, bloomed right through the dryness of August, and will continue for a while yet. At this point, I’m leaving the hips on to ripen, as they turn a very nice orange. It’s a David Austin rose called Windrush, which has a fabulous scent.

The rose Windrush in full bloom. In the upper righthand corner there are columbines; to the right, there are geraniums, Johnson’s Blue. Photographed on June 9, 2020.

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Texture in the Summer Garden

A relaxing garden has both restful places for your eyes and focal points to enjoy. Green is restful, but it can get monotonous if it’s all identical, as in a yard with a well-kept lawn, but nothing else. Texture is a good way to add interest without losing the restfulness of green. Massing, an application of the design principles of repetition and proximity, is a great way to develop texture that is sufficiently interesting to lead your eyes to an interesting larger plant or something in bloom. Continue reading “Texture in the Summer Garden”

Irises, Native and Not

I mentioned rearranging plants in my last post. This is the best time to rearrange your irises. They are dormant, and they are happier to remain dry this time of year, which makes post-planting attention simple.

Native Irises

I moved blue-eyed grass last week. It seeds where it wants to, but the plants are very easy to move. They are small enough to be a trowel job, even when they have reached blooming size.

Blue-eyed grass in bloom in moderate shade. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

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A Look Back: Purple, Winding Down

There is a lot of purple in May and early June. Here are four purple-flowered plants, two natives and two not, that have done very well. They will all take light shade, although the geranium would probably be happiest with more sun than the others.

False Indigo, Baptisia australis

This native plant erupts from the ground the second week of May, and is blooming by the end of the month! It is very popular with our bumblebees.

Baptisia with a bumblebee. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

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Summer in a Nutshell: Outacontrol, But Sorting Itself Out

Somehow, it’s August. Not only that, l spent last week, one of two between-semester weeks off, cooking, paying bills, catching up with my accountant, weeding, mowing, rearranging a few plants, and having meetings with mixed success. I did get a few things done towards a drawing that is, so far, a year in the making.

I knew that my garden was fraying, but it really didn’t sink in fully until I realized that I had completely forgotten about an empty spot right by the back door that I would have to deal should have dealt with in the spring—of 2020. Last week I realized that spot had taken care of itself. It’s not subtle in bloom.

Rudbeckia hirta, self sown and in bloom. Photographed on August 12, 2020.

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Bugs in the Garden

I am using the term ‘bugs’ loosely.

I was trying get pictures of the little flower buds on the arrow-leaved asters, when this little character brought me to a full stop. Sometimes you just end up laughing out loud, even in the garden.

An unidentified small bug tries to scare me off with his colorful legs and ferocious dance. Photographed on August 19, 2019.

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Pear Becomes Bumblebee Banquet

My neighbor’s pear tree drops fruit at the end of August and into September right outside my back door every year. I pick up the fruit every morning, very carefully, so that I don’t inadvertently step on a yellow jacket—the largest number of visitors to these pears has always been yellow jackets, and the only thing crankier than a yellow jacket is a yellow jacket in August, but I have seen only one or two in the last couple of weeks. However, when I stepped out after lunch to toss my compostables into the bin, I noticed a pear covered in insects. Before my eyes  even focussed, I was thinking, “Oh no! Bald-face hornets!”—the only hymenopteran I have run into that is meaner than a yellow jacket. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Six bumblebees share a pear for lunch. That big orange saddlebag on the uppermost bee is pollen. Photographed on August 26, 2019.

My best guess is that these are eastern bumblebees. They susurrate their way through the grape hyacinths in the spring, which is very joyful to listen to and to watch. They buzz and bustle at each flower, and move around very busily, a completely different behavior than their calm approach to the pear in the photograph above, or to Echinacea. The bustling activity turns to be buzz pollination, a critical thing if you like tomatoes, blueberries, or cranberries, to name a few crops.

I will be putting some of the fruit where it cannot get stepped on for the bumblebees. They are clearly hungry, and probably thirsty. We have very little rain this month. Fortunately, rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days.