Our first white coneflowers, Echinacea, opened yesterday. Each flower lasts for a very long time. Pollinators frequent the flowers over several weeks. Once the petals finally drop, goldfinches delight in picking out the tasty seeds. Coneflower remains a presence in our garden all summer, producing new flowers deep into the season.
The few weeks after Azaleas fade and Iris finish bring a brief lull in the garden. Our trees are fully covered now in deep green and shrubs cover themselves with tender new growth. Now is a good time to take softwood cuttings, if you want to clone any woodies.
Most gardeners keep secateurs close at hand as we deadhead spent flowers and sometimes need to clip a path for ourselves through vigorous new growth.
African blue basil remains one of my favorite annual flowering herbs. I grow it for the sweetly scented flowers and rarely cut it for cooking. Once the flowers finish, goldfinches swoop in to claim the seeds. This basil continue flowering and growing all summer long.
I’ve done more trimming than planting this week as I continue to tame the rampant goldenrod and obedient plant claiming too much real estate in our front perennial beds and the thuggish cutleaf coneflower shading out its companions in the butterfly garden. Abundant rain and warm weather fuels this early summer growth spurt, as plants increase by inches a day.
Verbena bonariensis, a South American native Verbena, is one of my favorite perennials at the moment. I have planted it in beds and pots this year. I’ve learned that it self-sows generously, and returns more vigorously with each passing year. I saw a friend’s plant that had grown into a small woody shrub and fooled me, as I thought it was a butterfly bush leafing out last month! All Verbenas prove magnets for butterflies and other pollinators.
But looking across the front garden I don’t see as much color this week. And so I walked our garden paths, camera in hand, to see what new flowers have appeared as we transition from spring ephemerals to summer’s perennials.
Most of these flowers will continue for several weeks more, if not for several months. Some will bloom on from now until frost. Spring’s exuberance settles now into summer’s steadiness.
Garlic chives are always the first of our Alliums to bloom in May. They spread a bit more each year. These are an edible herb, a good pollinator plant, and add color during early summer.
I brought home a new rose colored Salvia today and a beautiful new coral Agastache. I am looking forward to their bold color shining in the garden for many weeks ahead.
Spring is all about the flowers, but summer color comes more reliably from interesting foliage. Flowers come and go, bloom and fade and fall. They bring in the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, but they fade all too quickly.
Spiraea japonica blooms reliably each May, and will re-bloom if deadheaded. This is a very traditional shrub, left by a previous gardener, and may be cut for the vase.
I’m most excited this week about all of the deep red Canna plants growing by the day, tubs of Caladiums and Alocasias ready to take their places throughout the garden, and a growing collection of beautiful coleus. But our winter Violas are still going strong in their pots, and they are so colorful I am loathe to pull them before they fade. Our summer foliage plants continue to wait on the Violas and snaps for their turn in our summer pots.
Another steamy summer settles over the garden, and the garden is transforming itself yet again, as our perennials emerge and grow.
Heuchera ‘Melting Fire’ keeps these deep ruby leaves all year long, even through winter. It is a special treat when its flowers emerge in early summer.
Woodland Gnome 2019
Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator.
“At last came the golden month of the wild folk-
– honey-sweet May,
when the birds come back,
and the flowers come out,
and the air is full of the sunrise scents
and songs of the dawning year.”