Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mid Summer Island Bed

My front island perennial bed looks best in late-spring (when the peonies and fox gloves are blooming) and mid-summer when the phlox, cone flowers, and rudbeckia take center stage.  Mid-summer can also be a time when the garden starts to show signs of stress from the heat, humidity, and pests.  With mid-summer comes humid weather, which means that controlling fungus and powdery mildew can be a full time job, but even with the foliage not looking its best the blooms of mid-summer usually puts on a lovely show. 

I've got several varieties of phlox.  Some of them are new cultivars that resist fungus, but most of what I have are older varieties that lose most of their lower leaves to disease every summer.  The one is my favorite (sorry don't know its name).  I love the color and how tall it is - almost as tall as me (5'2")!. 

Notice the darn Japanese beetle munching away.... grrrrrr....

Since cone flowers are native to America not much bothers these hardy plants.  I've got purple, pink, peach, and green blooms in this bed (sorry folks I don't know their common or botanical names). 

The rudbeckia (also native) has lots of buds and should be blooming in a few days (sorry no picture).

Larkspur is new to my garden this year.  I love how they look so similiar to delphiniums (some people think they are the same but they are not).  Larkspur blooms later and longer than delphiniums.  They don't have as a deep a color as the delphinium, but are tall and sturdy and bit more resistant to disease.

Hollyhocks are one of my all time favorite flowers.  I planted them last year and this year they are blooming for the first time.  Only one has started blooming, but 2 others are not too far behind.  I planted them at the back of the bed knowing they are tall plants, but I've been disappointed so far in their size.  They are probably only 3 feet tall and the flowers are smaller than I expected.  They aren't done blooming or growing for the season so I hope they will get bigger (does anyone have any idea why they are so small?)

These sweet coreopsis with grassy foliage and small lavender flowers is planted at the very front of the bed.  I have mixed feelings about it.  The flowers are so small you really only notice them unless you get close up and the foliage is a bit messy looking to me.  I'm undecided as to whether they are staying or being moved.  I'm thinking of replacing them with something that has a bit more impact.  Any ideas anyone?

Around the large oak tree I've planted reblooming daylilies in all different colors and varieties.  I need to take better pictures of them early in the day.  I usually go out with the camera late in the day as the blooms fade so I haven't captured them at their best, but they are really gorgeous.

The Endless Summer hydrangea is blooming really nicely this year.  Good thing too because I was ready pull it out.  I planted it 3 summers ago and this is the first time it has bloomed (and I haven't pruned it for fear that it wouldn't bloom). 

Finally at the back of the bed are tons of liatris.  I inherited them from the previous owner.  They were peppered throughout the bed with no rhyme or reason, and 2 springs ago I moved them all towards the back in a long row for impact.  I love they way they look.

This bed is still a work in progress.  I've got many more kinds of plants then I've listed in this post, but this is what is blooming right now. There are still plants in the back of the bed that are smaller and need to be moved up front since they are hiding behind the cone flowers and tall phlox.  These include the shasta daisies, salvia, and lamb's ear.  I've got that on my "to do" list for next spring.  As the summer goes by that list is growing and growing... but then again a garden is never done and that's what makes it so much fun!


Tracy said...

Hi Jackie - everything looks great. My favorite by far is the bi-colored phlox! Why I don't have any phlox in my gardens is a mystery to me. Next year for sure. :)I feel the same way about those Japanese Beetles. I went on a stomp & squish frenzy last night.

tina said...

Your mystery phlox might be 'Peppermint Twist' or 'Spinners'. I have the spinners and love it too! You must've been talking about me with the liatris. I had ordered like 200 for about 10 and planted them all in one bed thinking that I'd make a nice mass, but I actually did not plant them close together so the planting did not work:( Now I am thinking of moving them but never get around to it. When did you move yours? Mine seem to disappear if I don't get them fast but I'll give a go this fall. Your daylilies are stunning. I notice you have a good bit of shade and do so well with all your pretties. Slowing down-nope, still going strong it looks like.

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

Hi Tina, Yes you're right that phlox is peppermint twist! I remember now! I moved my liatris in the spring a few years ago. I think in early spring once they popped up. I replanted them close together and they look great that way. The island bed does get a fair amount of shade. Since it's under a large oak but with the way the sun moves it gets about 4-5 hours of direct sun mid-day which seems to be enough for most everything I've planted there. I think because the sun it's gets is hot mid-day sun it does well... if that was morning sun or late afternoon sun I think I'd have more of problem.

Sheila said...

What a beautiful bed! You have all my favorites!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jackie, You've got some fantastic blossoms despite, as you say, the mid-summer stressors. I can't tell you why your hollyhocks are smaller but I can relate. Yesterday I was at the garden of an acquaintance and I swear I wanted to dig up her hollyhocks and replant them in my garden. They were just fabulous in color and size. The foliar rust was an issue on the lower leaves, but this is a given and despite this the eye just naturally looks up at the blossoms. She did say, "full sun" and mine are in semi-shady spots so... I guess I just have to admire from afar. Or take down the neighbor's birch tree, an idea that has crossed my mind a time or two. :) She did tell me that after the first flush of blooms, she cuts them back and they regrow and rebloom but not as tall. The only thing I can think of to do with mine is to keep them watered and fed and hopefully they'll gain strength and maybe next year perform better, if they survive the winter.

Love, love, love your "pinwheel" type of Phlox.

Stacey said...

Jackie, everything is so pretty in your yard right now! I learned some things from you today. Didn't know that the old phlox was susceptible as you described. That's good to know because mine are losing their leaves right now. They sure have have been beautiful though.

My coneflowers didn't bloom this year. They turned black and withered from the top down. The nursery said they have a blight. I thinned them out and hope that getting more air will help in the future.

Your hollyhock bloom is stunning! Love that eggplant color.

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

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