August Doldrums: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day August 2010

– Posted in: What's up/blooming
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Sunflower with Flowering Tobacco

Sunflower courtesy chipmunks. Flowering tobacco courtesy last year's flowering tobacco

Most of the garden looks a bit unkempt. Browned foliage, browned, undeadheaded flowers, interspersed with plants that like August. Bring on the heat, they say. What’s a little drought to a plant like me? The garden would look pretty terrific if I had been deadheading and deadleafing right along. But as usual, I am pulling weeds I meant to get to before I went to Buffa10. Which was over a month ago.

Fantastic Foliage

There are foliage plants that look good:

bonfire euphorbia alligator tears coleus

Bonfire euphorbia sidles up to Alligator Tears coleus

I always thought coleus needed a lot of moisture. But I planted several kinds of coleus in a bed dominated by a lilac and a smokebush, both moisture sucking shrubs, and the coleus have looked spectacular all summer. I might have watered them once. ‘Alligator Tears’ above is a new introduction from Proven Winners.
crimson gold coleus

Crimson Gold coleus brings out the best in the purple smokebush

‘Crimson Gold’ is from Ball Horticultural. These are not the coleus my grandmother grew, that’s for sure.
This combination really pleases me, but it happened by itself:
blackout heuchera with adlumia fungosa

A fringe of Allegheny vine foliage adorns Blackout heuchera

These are first year seedlings from the Allegheny vine that bloomed last year. I am not 100% certain this is ‘Blackout,’ from Skagit Gardens. It could be ‘Mahogany’. I had two of each and planted them all together, and they got a case of lost-tag-itis. They’re both nice coral bells that have survived two mud seasons now. I find just about all heucheras will make it through my winters, but a lot of them die during mud season.

Animated Annuals

The heat-lovings annuals that most people consider summer staples are just now coming into their own at the beginning of autumn. You heard me. Autumn is just around the corner for us and many annuals here are cut down by frost before they’ve reached their peak. Still, they make August a more interesting month in the garden. Take, for example, this zinnia:

Apricot Blush zinnia

Apricot Blush zinnia, a pretty big one, at that

Cadie started a lot of zinnias from a lot of different packets and planted them wherever there was an empty spot. We’re pretty sure this is ‘Apricot Blush’ from Renee’s Garden, though it is a deeper color in Renee’s photo.

It has become tradition for Cadie to plant morning glories all along the chicken yard fence. Update: Cadie just corrected me: This year ‘Early Call’ was one of the few to germinate. It’s actually the pink from Botanical Interests Sunrise Blend, which now has a different set of flowers on the seed packet.

Early Call Morning Glories

Early Call morning glories, though they are none too early. Mid-August, and they haven't reached the top of the fence

Last year, Grandpa Otts just about brought the fence down, but I guess he decided to retire this year. Grandpa Otts didn’t retire, just moved to a new location of his own choosing.

New Plant Gamble: Crocosmia

Distant Planet crocosmia

Distant Planet crocosmia. The first, and perhaps only, year growing in my garden

‘Distant Planet’ crocosmia was obtained this spring from the late, great Seneca Hill Perennials nursery. Ellen Hornig believes it to be “northern-hardy” and rates it Zone 5 with a question mark. Crocosmia is not typically hardy here, but what if . . . ? A girl can dream, can’t she?

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

Thanks to Proven Winners, Ball Horticultural, Renee’s Garden Seeds, and Skagit Gardens for the opportunity to trial their plants and seeds.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

Comments on this entry are closed.

Cindy Juliano September 11, 2010, 9:22 pm

Kathy, I love your blog. I am a new blogger who gardens in CT. I’m having fun reading all the gardening blogs, and yours is particularly interesting since we have a short growing season here, too. I love that zinnia and all your coleus! I grew a lot of coleus here this summer, too, and they are still going strong. Next year I am trying even more varieties. Have you seen the lime green zinnia? Do you know the name of it? Look forward to more posts!

Kathy Purdy September 11, 2010, 10:33 pm

The zinnias that we grow are all from mixes, so I don’t know the name of any particular color. There is a green zinnia called ‘Envy.’ Thank you for stopping by and visiting.

Alison Kerr August 30, 2010, 10:18 am

Right about now I’m cursing morning glories. My neighbor gave my kids some seeds years ago and, after years where I didn’t see them around, this year they have taken over a large corner of my garden. Between the morning glories, the grape which has gone wild, and the honeyvine, my garden is like the invasion of the triphids. Honeyvine I don’t mind so much because the monarchs love it, but the other two will have to go. Thank goodness the Eastern Kansas weather is cooling and I can get back out and try to conquer the invasion.

Kathy Purdy August 30, 2010, 10:36 am

Hi, Alison, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Make sure it’s truly morning glory (an annual) and not bindweed (a morning glory look-alike that is perennial). I have heard gardeners in warmer climate have trouble with morning glories being aggressive, but most years we are thankful if they get going before being cut down by frost.

Gail August 19, 2010, 7:27 pm

Kathy, Love the Alligator Tears and euphorbia together….I am going to look at coleus I’ve shied away thinking they needed more water then I want to carry around the garden, but the new ones have a unique and nice look to them. That’s a great zinnia and good luck with the crocosmia~it never survives here…I wonder if snow would help:) gail

VW August 17, 2010, 8:08 pm

Aha – so I’m not the only one behind on garden chores! I finally deadheaded the oriental lilies today, but didn’t deadhead all the hostas because I’m worried that some of them have that hosta virus and I don’t want to spread it around.
I hear you about fall. My dahlias are just starting to bloom, and I keep thinking of the killing frost we had last Oct 11. I don’t know if dahlias are a good investment for a short season gardener like me.

Cindy, MCOK August 17, 2010, 6:55 pm

Kathy, I love the punch of color that coleus add to the garden. I may have to get a flat for one of the bare areas out front. That Zinnia is a luscious color. I must get seeds from Renee’s!

Frances August 17, 2010, 5:09 pm

Hi Kathy, what a pretty zinnia! They are often just beginning to bloom here as well from seeds sown in the ground which seems to give the strongest stems and most flowers. We just have to wait for them. Those coleus are fantastic, so nice they are drought tolerant as well. Good luck with the croc, it sounds like it is possible to overwinter it in your area. Hope so. 🙂
Frances

Leslie Kuss August 16, 2010, 11:29 pm

I believe that could be Blackout. I saw it at the Erie Basin Marina Test Gardens and coveted its beautiful shiny leaves. Came home to the Central Valley and even with our unusually mild summer it looked like frass at all the nurseries. Just doesn’t like our dry climate. I love your colorful foliage…looks lovely!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter August 16, 2010, 9:45 pm

That’s a fantastic Zinnia. It’s so pretty, it looks fake. Good luck on the Crocosmia. If you have a snowy winter, it’ll probably make it. (Pray for snow.) How thoughtful of the chipmunk to plant the sunflower for you. I don’t know who planted the sunflower in my gravel area, but I suspect it’s the same culprit who dug up all the sunflower seeds I planted elsewhere.

Kathy Purdy August 16, 2010, 9:49 pm

Here, the chipmunks just raid the bird feeder.

Cadie August 16, 2010, 10:58 am

Well, just discovered it’s not “Early Call” morning glory. The morning glories I planted this year were “Glacier Star” like the past couple years, “Scarlett O’Hara” which I wanted to try again (both of those from Renee’s) and “Sunrise Blend” from Botanical Interests, which has the pink blooms in it. I planted the morning glories pretty late this year, so I’m not too surprised they’re being slow. Also, they probably liked the rain we got last year, and the compost I added to the dirt last year!

It was both “Grandpa Ott’s” and the large blue “Glacier Star” ones that nearly brought down the fence last year. Probably more so the Glacier Stars, which turned into such a huge cluster of vines and blooms. The Glacier Star I planted this year don’t seem to be really taking off at all.

And actually, although I purposely didn’t plant any Grandpa Ott’s this year, on the other side of the gate the fence is full of Grandpa Ott’s vines & blooms – they self-sowed themselves! They don’t want to retire, that’s for sure.

Pat Webster August 16, 2010, 8:58 am

I have also had crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ growing for several years in a sheltered spot. The first year I thought I had lost it, but it bloomed well in year two and has kept going ever since. I planted it near a Blue Angel hosta, heuchera ‘Obsidian’ and red-veined sorrel. When other flowers in the bed are starting to look sleepy, the jolt of red the crocosmia supplies really wakes them up. I am in the equivalent of a U.S. zone 4.

Kathy Purdy August 16, 2010, 9:23 am

That’s good to hear, Pat. Gives me hope.

Susanne Lipari August 16, 2010, 8:04 am

I’ve had Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in my garden (near Mecklenburg, NY, zone 5 going on zone 6) for many years, and it seems to be perfectly hardy. In fact, it was happy enough that I had to pull out about half the patch because it was overgrowing other plants that keep the garden looking good in late summer. Some years it seems to recede a little, but I don’t think that is connected to hardiness. By the way, I also have regular gladiolus that have become naturalized in one of my beds. They are not my favorite color, but I leave them because they bloom in late July, early August, when any color is welcome.

Kathy Purdy August 16, 2010, 8:18 am

Stories like yours give me courage to dream, but I am colder here, a Zone 4 that is trying to become Zone 5. Thanks for visiting.

Lisa August 16, 2010, 7:11 am

Curious, do you overwinter your coleous, by cuttings or another method? I’m usually busy in the winter wintersowing, but I’m really please with how healthy my coleous are looking this year. I’m not a big fan of babying cuttings but I just might unless there’s a simpler way. Love your sunflower and reseeding nicotiana. Portulaca is my surprise reseeder, and no matter where it comes up, it always looks charming.

Kathy Purdy August 16, 2010, 7:52 am

This is the first year I’ve had these coleus. I haven’t rooted a coleus since high school, but I kept it as a potted houseplant after I rooted it. It was, in fact, my grandmother’s coleus. Space for potted plants is at a premium, and my rosemary has first dibs.