Garden retrospective: July 2014

When I first started doing flower gardens, I hadn’t discovered the later blooming perennials so I each July I felt bereft when June’s bounty ended.

Then I discovered the tough and beautiful butterfly weed, which is native to Eastern North America. This flawless plant is drought tolerant, has a long blooming season, and makes striking seed pods that look great right through the winter. I just learned that it’s a type of milkweed.morning_glory_first_2_julyAlthough the morning glory looks good in the picture above, they didn’t do very well as the summer went on, and I don’t know what changed. One summer we had morning glories that climbed to the very top of a mimosa tree that had died the previous winter, clothing the tree’s skeleton in exuberant foliage and sky blue flowers. They were right outside our second story bedroom window and it was glorious. Now, for some reason, they are no longer happy no matter where I try to grow them.

Because I’m greedy when it comes to flowers, I rely on annuals to supplement the perennials. I tend to concentrate them in containers where they’re easier to deadhead and keep looking neat. This year I discovered lantana, which bloomed well all summer. I’ll definitely try to find them again next year.


I have two new water plants this year: dwarf papyrus and a native plant with broad leaves whose name escapes me. I made the mistake of potting them up together. In the fall I’ll have to separate them, as the native plant can winter over in the ground (I hope) whereas the papyrus has to come indoors.

The next shot is the view from my office window, which is why it looks a little hazy – that’s the screen, which doesn’t slide up and is not easy to remove for a quick snapshot, especially when I’m trying to get one of a bathing robin. The robins do love the water. They sit on the spout to take long, thorough baths, fluttering their feathers and ducking their heads. They also sit in the plant in the middle barrel for some reason, spreading their wings and tails and having a lovely time.


The bed on the chimney (west) side of the house is rather disorganized, which is typical of me. I plop any plant my greedy little heart desires in there. There’s one with pink flowers that I planted from seed gathered from the roadside near my office in Waltham. I think it’s a kind of geranium. And day lilies, of course, that July stalwart. And coreopsis, and alyssum, and ornamental purple basil that my friend Kathy gave me. This basil seeds itself with abandon, and every year I transplant a few of the seedlings.


This is the first year for the group of containers I set up on the gravel in the back yard. My vision was to have a wall of green in the back row, with smaller plants in front, combined with some that would spill over the sides. I was going for lush and colorful. As it turned out, the effect was messier than I’d like. I’ll try again next year, with more restraint, I think, although that doesn’t come naturally to me. The canna lilies were the biggest disappointment. I had hoped for more interesting foliage and better flowers.


Finally, another old friend, a scarlet gernaium that has made it through the past few winters on my office windowsill. The pink flowers in the background are Bouncing Bet, given to me by my friend Robine. The first hummingbird I ever saw in my yard came to investigate them this month.

I’m pleased that the heather next to the Buddha statue has recovered well. Last winter nearly killed it.


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