Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: August

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“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
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Lady Bird Johnson

Butterflies drift on the summer breeze from flower to flower in search of nectar; I find an earthbound path of my own, camera in hand, to drink in their beauty.

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August finds our garden filled with flowers.  Some, like the roses, struggle with this late summer heat to pump out a few small flowers here and there.  But others, like our spider lily are just getting started with their annual show.  Our fall flowers have begun to fill the garden with fierce, stubborn color.

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Lycoris radiata, or Red Spider Lily, blooms in late summer.

Lycoris radiata, or Red Spider Lily, blooms in late summer.

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.”

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Claude Monet

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Basil attracts many pollinators

Basil attracts many pollinators

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Butterflies have their favorites, just as I have mine.  Lantana flowers always draw butterflies, and hummingbirds sometimes, too.  Many of the flowers in our garden are selected especially for their appeal to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and interesting nectar-loving insects.

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Our Cannas and Salvias delight the hummingbirds.  But I plant many herbs, and let them flower, for the nectar they provide.  They may not be the showiest of flowers, but they are good for the wildlife we hope to attract.

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When allowed to bloom, Coleus provides abundant nectar and attracts many pollinators.

When allowed to bloom, Coleus provides abundant nectar and attracts many pollinators.

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“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,

it’s your world for a moment.”

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Georgia O’Keeffe

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Begonia 'Flamingo'

Begonia ‘Flamingo’

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Some of the Begonias, too, have finally covered themselves in flowers.  Simple and delicate, Begonia flowers come only when the mother plant is happy.  Ours have finally recovered from their winter indoors with vigorous new growth.

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We grow several different sorts of Begonias, each with its own unique leaf and flower.

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They all grow in pots or baskets so we can keep them from one year to the next, and most root very easily from stem cuttings.

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It is good to cut back the cane Begonias, especially, as the stems will grow many feet long.  Prunings go into a vase of water to soon begin life again in a new pot either in our garden, or as a gift to a friend.

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Also a Begonia, this grows from a tuber and produces flowers like tiny roses.

Also a Begonia, this one grows from a tuber and produces flowers like tiny roses. Oxalis blooms beside it.

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“It is only by selection, by elimination,

and by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.”

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Georgia O’Keeffe

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Begonia 'Richmondensis' with Caladium

Begonia ‘Richmondensis’ with Caladium

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Late summer brings its own ‘woody’ flowers, too.  Rose of Sharon, butterfly bush, Crepe Myrtle, and Hydrangea all cover themselves in flowers each August.

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So does a very odd plant, Aralia spinosa, also known as ‘The Devil’s Walking Stick’ for its exceptionally thorny stem.

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Aralia spinosa in bloom

Aralia spinosa in bloom

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This small tree crowns itself with a cloud of tiny, greenish-yellow flowers which soon swell into a cloud of dark inky purple berries.  Another plant to delight wildlife, this one is not so delightful in the garden.  It spreads by seeds and underground runners.

But my gardening philosophy tends towards, ‘The more, the merrier!’  It is a very laissez-faire approach, admittedly.  But it serves us well, in this forest garden.

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Echinacea 'Green Jewel'

Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’

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“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”

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Oscar Wilde

Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.  When last I looked, Carol had nearly 50 other gardeners sharing links to their posts this August.  Just looking through these virtual garden tours is a fun way to see what others are doing and to find fresh inspiration.

I hope you will visit Carol’s post, and as many of the other links as time allows.

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If  ‘A flower blossoms for its own joy,’ we photograph and admire them for our own. 

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I have created a series of flower portraits this summer, simply called ‘Blossom.’  This simple posting format has brought me a great deal of joy and comfort over the last few weeks.  It has allowed me to post when no words would come.

Flowers, no matter their size or color,  delight.  Perhaps it is their very fragility which begs us to appreciate them in the moment.  If we procrastinate, they may be gone.

Certainly, they each have their season, as do we.

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Two dear members of our family have passed from this Earthly life over the past few weeks.  We still miss them keenly.  Their passing has reminded each of us who loved them to share our love, our joy, and our appreciation with those we care for, as often as we can.

We can not afford to put off to tomorrow that which we may enjoy today.  Our lives prove as ephemeral as the flowers which fascinate us.

We are all creatures in time, and so must make the time to share the beauty and wonders of this life; and to share it with those we love.

Woodland Gnome 2016
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In Loving Memory of

Rachel Mae Downs-Lewis  1975-2016

In Loving Memory of

Patty Jo “Tinker’  Rishworth  1961-2016

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Blossom XIII

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“Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…

but merely to be LIVED.

Boldly, wildly, beautifully,

uncertainly, imperfectly,

magically LIVED.”

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Mandy Hale

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016
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“Love, like Fortune, favours the bold.”
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E.A. Bucchianeri

 

Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIV
Blossom XV
BlossomXVI
Blossom XVII
Blossom XVIII

Opening

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Once again the miracle: soft, bright buds open into the warmth of spring.  What was closed and hard breaks open, allowing new life to emerge.

I never tire of the beauty of it all.

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Tender green sprouts push up through barren soil.  Vines sprout tiny green buds along their length.  And everywhere, flowers unfold in every color you might imagine.

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This opening of each new gardening season reminds me of the inherent goodness of our lives.  There is always hope. 

There can always remain the expectation that something beautiful and joy-filled will emerge right as we need it most.

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You may notice the many scars on the Edgeworthia branches below these golden flowers.  How sweetly these flowers fill our garden with perfume as they open!  Their fragrance is like honey; the first fragrant flowers to perfume the garden each year.  The scars mark where leaves have grown and fallen.  And yet they add to the beauty of the shrub.  They give a certain character, even as the branches age and the scars begin to fade.  By early April new leaves will cloak the shrub in bright green, and the golden flowers will have fallen away.

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These cycles instruct us if we pause to reflect.

All life is beautiful.  All is re-newed in its time.

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These past few weeks have found us out working happily in the garden once again after winter’s long break.  Early spring tasks may not be glamorous, but accomplishing each in its time prepares the way for what is to come.  There is compost to spread, leaves to rake and shred, weeding, pruning, planting and the daily journey of discovery in search of new developments.

We listen to the excited calls of many birds returning to the garden.  We admire awakening perennials and emerging buds.

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We have begun moving hanging baskets outside for deep watering, fresh air, and brighter light, grateful for every one which survived its winter vacation indoors.  I’m planting cuttings, re-potting geraniums and watching for new leaves.

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So much to do!  And so much more light each day to accomplish each task still waiting for attention!

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This spring feels stuck in ‘fast forward.’  Early warmth speeds the unfolding.  With an eye ever on the forecast, we press on with delight, hoping to elude a late frost.

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With appreciation to Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the fifteenth of each month.  Please visit her for more beautiful spring flowers.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Still Vibrantly Blooming: October 15

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The flowers of late fall and early spring bring us the most pleasure.  That may be because we can actually enjoy our time outside in the garden with them!  It is ‘Goldilocks’ comfortable now  from dawn until dusk, and our enthusiasm for the garden is re-ignited.

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This area of the front garden gets the most attention these days, as I move shrubs and perennials into these new beds from their pots.

This area of the front garden gets the most attention these days, as I move shrubs and perennials into these new beds from their pots.

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We both spent most of yesterday outside.  Knowing that a frost can come now at any time, and that night time temperatures  in the 40’s may come this weekend; our pleasant days and frost free nights may be counted on our fingers… and possibly toes, if we are fortunate!

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I set out yesterday to fill promises made weeks ago to share our Ginger Lilies.

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Our Butterfly Ginger Lilies fill the air with their sweet perfume.

Our Butterfly Ginger Lilies fill the air with their sweet perfume.

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A gardening friend joined me mid-morning and took all she could use of the freshly dug tubers.  A new neighbor, designing his own wildlife habitat along our shared pond, collected a dozen more Ginger Lily starts that afternoon.  My poor shaded, crowded roses are breathing more freely now, with fresh compost around their roots.

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Another rose, well crowded now by an exuberant Lantana.

Another  crowded rose, this one by an exuberant Lantana.

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I also shared some seedling Beauty Berry shrubs, a few stems of our wonderful hardy Begonia, and some tender ferns.

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Time for this Begonia to come back inside for another winter.

Time for this tender Begonia to come back inside for another winter.

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The time has come for the “Who will survive the winter?” lottery as we decide which of the tender plants will come in before the nights turn truly cold.  My first instinct always is, “All of them!”  But as we survey available space, reality sets in.  And I begin pressing my friends to adopt a plant for the winter.

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These Bougainvillea lives in our garage once nights grow cold.

These Bougainvillea lives in our garage once nights grow cold.

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I learned several valuable lessons about keeping plants over winter last season.  I learned that a number of plants, like Colocasia, will survive just fine in the low light of our basement.

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Ivy leaf Geranium

Ivy leaf Geranium

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I also learned that it is possible to crowd quite a few Geraniums into a plastic tub and keep them all going in the garage.  They kept blooming through Christmas that way.

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The best lesson, however, required an investment in 5 gal. buckets from Walmart.  Who cares if they are covered in camo and deer designs?  They were only $3 each, and each perfectly held one of our hanging baskets through the winter.  With plastic bags under the buckets to protect the floor, I could water the baskets with confidence, knowing they drained into the buckets.

I also purchased those kitschy ‘watering globes’ for the baskets; which work very well by the way.  I could fill the globes once a week or so to keep the baskets hydrated enough to survive our winter.

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These tender ferns will get moved inside before Sunday evening.

These tender ferns will get moved inside before Sunday evening.

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Yes, it takes a lot of effort to keep plants over winter, but that effort is also rewarded.  Watching overwintered plants come back into bloom the following season brings a special joy.

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Since I collect so many specialty plants, like Begonias,  I may find a particular cultivar only once in many years.  Losing it means, well, losing it.

There is no guarantee that a freshly rooted version will be waiting on the nursery shelves next spring.

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This is a tender Salvia and most years doesn't survive our winter.

This is a tender Salvia and most years doesn’t survive our winter.  Our bumblebees are already feeling the chill in the air.

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That makes October’s Garden Blogger Bloom Day especially poignant.  My Zone 7 garden has reached its peak for the season.  We will enjoy these beautiful flowers while  they last, knowing that frost will soon transform our garden, once again.

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Many of our Lantana prove hardy. We expect this new cultivar to survive winter in place out of doors.

Many of our Lantana prove hardy. We expect this new cultivar to survive winter in place out of doors.

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But I hope to transform it first, digging and moving tender perennials to pots inside, crowding them into their makeshift ‘garage greenhouse’ and planting hardy Violas and Heucheras in their places.

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These hardy perennials will die back with the frost, but then return in early summer.

These hardy perennials will die back with the frost, but then return in early summer.

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I’ve also started pots of hardy Cyclamen and Arum lily, which will come outside to the garden next week.  We’re off today to pick up more bulbs for spring flowers, and then I’ll put those compost covered gloves back on; and head back outside for another golden afternoon in our October garden.

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Goldenrod volunteers in odd places around the garden, adding its golden glow to the changing leaves.

Goldenrod volunteers in odd places around the garden, adding its golden glow to the changing leaves.

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Woodland Gnome 2014

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Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

Canna

Canna

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I am joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens to celebrate what is blooming in our garden this September.  Many of us are fortunate to have something in bloom every day of the year, with a bit of planning.

September is one of our best months of the year for a wide variety of blossoms.

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The white Sage has bloomed since mid-spring when it was planted, but looks lovely set off by our fall blooming blue mist flowers.

The white Sage has bloomed since mid-spring when it was planted, and now looks even better set off by our fall blooming blue mist flowers.

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Not only have some of the spring annuals come back into bloom, but we also have those autumn perennials we wait all summer to enjoy.  Our garden is intensely fragrant this month as we enjoy both Butterfly Ginger lily and lovely white Moonflowers.

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Both offer an intensely sweet fragrance which floats across the garden, drawing one ever closer to enjoy these special flowers up close.

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Blue Mexican Sage just coming into bloom. It will bloom until frost cuts it down.

Blue Mexican Sage just coming into bloom. It will bloom until frost cuts it down.

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Our blue Mexican Sage has begun to uncurl its very first flowers of the season.  It has grown quickly from its nursery pot to give a respectable showing this year.  Assuming it can survive winter, it will be much larger next year.  Some years it returns, other years are too harsh for this marginal perennial in Zone 7.

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September 15, 2015 Begonias blooming 012

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We continue to enjoy our Black Eyed Susans, although they are beginning to look a little spent.  Once I trim them back they will continue on through October.

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Buddleia, 'Harlequin'

Buddleia, ‘Harlequin’

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We also have drifts of our blue mist flower weaving through many areas of the garden.  Our Buddliea, ‘Harlequin’ continues to pump out flowers, as it has all summer.  It offers a small but intense purple bloom.  I enjoy it as much for its beautiful leaves as for its flowers, which attract butterflies and hummingbirds through the season.

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A rooted cutting of Coleus grows with Oxalis.

A rooted cutting of Coleus grows with Oxalis.

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The few surviving Coleus plants continue to produce tall stalks of flowers attractive to many butterlies and hummingbird.  Many of our plants have by now been shredded by squirrels.  Has this happened to you?  Systematically, one by one, squirrels have taken each plant apart.  We’ve wondered if they are drawn to the water in the plant’s stems?  They leave most of the leaves lying where they fall.

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Canna, giving its first blooms of the season.

Canna, giving its first blooms of the season.

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Our established Cannas are nearly finished for the season.  But a newly planted one, which is probably in more shade than it likes. has given its first flowers of the season this week.  It is a striking golden yellow.  I will remember to move pieces of it to a sunnier location next spring.

Also coming into bloom this month are our hardy perennial Begonias.

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I enjoy Begonias of many different types.  Most of ours come inside and bloom throughout the winter.

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But I have a special fondness for these very tough, if fragile looking hardy Begonias.  They are easy to divide and spread around, rooting easily and also producing tiny bulbs at their leaf joints.

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Hardy Begonia

Hardy Begonia

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Each little bulb can send roots into the soil and expand into a tiny plant.   I’ve learned that these survive winter much better in the ground than left in a pot.  They are late to emerge and late to bloom.  But they are very lovely in both bloom and leaf once they come into their own.

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Although each flower is a simple affair, their color is very satisfying.  Almost as lovely as the pink flowers are the pink stems of this plant.

We choose our plants with both birds and nectar loving insects in mind because we enjoy watching the many creatures drawn to our garden for food and safe haven.

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Seeds of our Butterfly tree are even more colorful than the flowers of a few weeks ago.

The seeds of our Butterfly tree are even more colorful than the flowers of a few weeks ago.

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And it is in late summer and early fall when many of summer’s flowers have faded that their seeds appear.  I often leave the flowers to go to seed, looking forward to the goldfinches and other small birds who will visit to eat from the drying flower stalks.

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Basil seeds and Echinacea seeds are a particular favorite.

And berries have also begun to form in the garden as well.  Often the berries are much showier than the original flowers, which often were quite small and plain.

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We enjoy the bright color and interesting texture the berries offer until the birds finish them.

It is nearly time to shop for autumn Violas and Snaps.  We will plant both by late September, planning to enjoy them through the winter months and into mid-spring.

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Our new Crepe Myrtle, 'Delta Jazz'

Our new Crepe Myrtle, ‘Delta Jazz’

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Autumn is an excellent month to plant winter annuals and vegetables as well as many shrubs, trees, and perennials here in Zone 7.  I’ve already been planting new Iris and several new perennials.  I will be planting a few hundred Daffodil bulbs over the coming weeks, and we planted a new Crepe Myrtle tree a few weeks ago.  It continues to bloom even as its roots settle into their new home.

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Rose of Sharon began its season of bloom in late May. It makes abundant seeds which feed our birds all winter long.

Rose of Sharon began its season of bloom in late May. It makes abundant seeds which feed our birds all winter long.

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Although winter has already visited some parts of the United States, we will enjoy warm weather for another six weeks, at least.

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Bougainvillea normally blooms in the winter in more southern climates. Ours was just beginning to bloom as we had to bring it inside for autumn last year. We are glad to have these blooms early enough to enjoy outside.

Bougainvillea normally blooms in the winter in more southern climates. Ours was just beginning to bloom as we had to bring it inside for autumn last year. We are glad to have these blooms early enough to enjoy outside.

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We normally enjoy a last blast of warm weather in early October, even after a few fall like days and cool nights in September have enticed us to anticipate the cooler days and lower humidity of autumn.  September and October are every bit as busy for us in the garden as April and May.

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Oxalis blooms here all summer.

Oxalis blooms here all summer.

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As much as we enjoy the varied foliage of our garden, our fall flowers bring great pleasure, too.  Especially as we enjoy the seeds and fruits they leave behind for the birds migrating through Virginia on their way further south.

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Daisy, almost ready to bloom this autumn.

Daisy, almost ready to bloom this autumn.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day: June

Our overwintered geranium basket has finally come into beautiful bloom.

Our overwintered geranium basket has finally come into beautiful bloom.

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Carol Michel, an horticulturalist and Indiana garden writer, sponsors a wonderful meme called “Garden Bloggers Bloom Day” on the 15th of each month from her blog, “May Dreams Gardens.”

I dipped in for a visit last evening. What a wonderful way to share our gardens with one another!

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I enjoyed hopping around from garden blogger to garden blogger seeing what is in bloom.  Here is another opportunity to visit gardens and gardeners not only around the country, but around the planet, from the comfort of one’s armchair.

After a long hot day of deadheading and weeding, what a treat to enjoy what is blooming in others’ gardens!   Sadly, I wasn’t doing either again today; too hot again.  But that is beside the point, isn’t it?

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Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects.  These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects. These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

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I finally suited up and ducked outside  this evening, once the sun committed to setting, admiring the flowers filling our garden tonight.  I’ve been looking forward to doing this all day.

Actually, my mind is spinning with gardening “to-do’s” which have gone undone.  Maybe tomorrow, when it’s cooler?

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The Foxglove has given us several weeks of bloom, and is winding down.  It is still lovely.

The Foxglove has given us several weeks of bloom, and is finally winding down. Considering how frozen it looked in March, I’ve been delighted with its performance.

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April, May and June bring rapid change in our garden as spring perennials burst into bloom and fade.  As much as I try to plan color to last the entire season, mid-April to early June remain a high point for us.

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Finally, at this point in June, we begin to see the flowering perennials, annuals and shrubs with staying power.  These same plants will bloom nearly continuously for the next three to four months; many until frost.

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This has been a week of firsts.  Our first Canna lilies bloomed; our first day lily and  our first Echinacea flowers opened; and our first Rose of Sharon shrubs broke into bloom today.

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I love this time of year when the planning and labor of the last many months come to fruition!

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Long time gardeners understand that a different garden grows in each passing season.  Last year’s lovely shrub might have died over winter.  Last year’s small new perennial has its roots and takes over the bed this year.  Things grow bigger and spread.  Beds fill in, or fill with unanticipated weeds.  The process of growing a garden remains perennially dynamic.

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We are celebrating our daylilies this year.  We celebrate them, because they have actually bloomed.  Although many grow in our garden, most years the deer have grazed them before a single blossom opened.  Last year our Echinacea were grazed early on and our only flowers came late, on stunted plants.

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The Canna roots we planted in 2013 are vigorously spreading now.  They look naturalized.

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The few small Colocasia starts from last season also multiplied over winter, or died.  We lost a few varieties, but C. “Pink China” has thrived and still needs more dividing.

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We’ve started several  new garden areas this summer, and our collection of pitcher plants has grown. We purchased a pot of our native yellow pitcher plant, Sarracenia flava, from Alan Wubbels at Forest Lane Botanicals several weeks ago for our new bog garden.  They offer an interesting variety of pitcher plants, Iris, and other marginal plants at their center in York County.

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It is hard to tell the bloom from the bright pitchers, which actually are leaves.  These flowers remind me a child’s drawing of a fantasy flower.

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We also choose to change things up from year to year.  Ivy geraniums grow this year in a series of pots where Basil has grown in the past.  Last year’s crop disappointed me, so I chose color over flavor this season.

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This Lantana returned for its fourth season in our garden.

This Lantana returned for its fourth season in our garden.

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Many of our lovely Lantana didn’t make it this past winter.  I’ve replaced some of  them with new plants, and planted other things where some Lantana once grew.

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We finally planted a few Penta plants last week, raised by the Patton family at Homestead Garden Center. We plant a few of these each summer for the hummingbirds.  The Pattons raise these lovely annuals from seed each spring in several different colors.

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Both this ornamental pepper, and the Petunia growing with it, came up as volunteers from seeds dropped by last year's annuals in pots.

Both this ornamental pepper, and the Petunia growing with it, came up as volunteers from seeds dropped by last year’s annuals in pots.

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The Zinnias I planted from seed in early May have not come in as expected.  Re-planting is on that long “to-do” list.  I would love to have Zinnias to cut for vases in August.

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There are other flowers coming in down in the lower garden, and on the patio and deck.  Perhaps we’ll visit other areas to see what is blooming in July.  Walking around the garden, morning and evening, always brings surprises.

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One of the perennial geraniums I planted in spring, growing with dusty miller, which survives winter here.

One of the perennial Geraniums I planted in spring, growing with dusty miller, which survives winter here.

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We watch for new flowers opening, and for the shy appearance of our wild companions.  One of our beautiful golden box turtles allowed me to take his portrait this evening as he strolled across the lawn.  We are glad the turtles enjoy living in the garden, and always thank them for allowing us to see them.

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I appreciate Carol’s encouragement to document what is blooming in the garden each month, and to share those photos with others.  I enjoy learning from other gardeners’ experiences, and always enjoy seeing how plants are used by others.

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I hope you will enjoy this quick look at some of what is in bloom in our forest garden today. 

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Parsley is ready to bloom with the geraniums near our back steps.

Parsley is ready to bloom with the geraniums near our back steps.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 16, 2015 blooming in June 020

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