Mid-August Blooms, Part 1

I had a happy reunion with the garden after Judy and I returned from our trip late Saturday afternoon. The first thing I noticed were bright swaths of yellow that seemed to dominate the area in front of the house. Yellow – sometimes clear and light, sometimes golden, or shading into orange.

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Overall, the garden had held up pretty well during our two week absence. It seems there had been a good deal of rain while we were gone. Some plants were leaning a bit too haphazardly, or had gotten overgrown. Staking, deadheading, and cutting back occupied a good deal of my Sunday, but I was happy to be so engaged.

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It wasn’t all yellow, of course. There were the bright orange Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia grandiflora).

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As many of you know, I am besotted by this sun-loving annual. However, I do think it needs to be cut back more aggressively. This year the Tithonia has grown a good 7′ at least, and it is obscuring some of its neighbors.

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For example, the fuzzy purple pink flower clusters of ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum) – hardly a diminutive plant in its own right.

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Here’s a view from the far end of the Driveway Border. Clusters of Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) stand in front of the Tithonia and ‘Gateway’. The droopy ray flowers are such a bright, clear yellow.

There’s an Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) barely visible in front of the Yellow Coneflower.  For the past two years the Agastache and some other plants have been infested with evil four-lined plant bugs in May and June. They recover later in summer but are much less robust than usual.

I have not intervened against the EFLPBs in the hope that natural predators will become numerous enough to minimize their damage. Let’s hope this strategy pays off next year. The Anise Hyssop ideally provides a nice patch of blue to balance the yellows and oranges, but these days it does not have the same kind of presence.

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Here’s a view of the grass path between the Driveway Border and the Front Island Bed.

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The Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is in full bloom. Like many of the other flowers, it is covered in bees and other pollinators.

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Here’s a closer look. The yellow of Cup Plant is just a shade deeper than the Yellow Coneflower. Goldfinches are drawn to Cup Plant as if to a magnet, and they are already starting to feed on seeds from the older flowers.

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I’m really very impressed by the staying power of the ‘Raspberry Wine’ Bee Balm (Monarda didyma). It was the first of the Monardas to bloom, and it is the only one of my Monardas to still be blooming in mid-August. It’s also hardly been touched by downy mildew.

Above you can see it blooming along the Sidewalk Border.

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Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) is popping up and flowering everywhere, which is fine with me. I move a few plants and pull out many. The plentiful flowers have a hint of orange.

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Here’s some Brown-Eyed Susan blooming with ‘Raspberry Wine’.

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Prior to leaving on vacation, I was a little disturbed by the paucity of butterflies in the garden. I’m glad to say that two Monarchs were flying around all day Sunday, and I also saw a Black Swallowtail and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

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The two Monarchs seemed to be getting rather intimate. I posted this picture of them together on Facebook and was accused of disseminating butterfly porn. Regardless, I do hope there will be caterpillars on my milkweed soon.

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I’m going to close for now with a picture of the containers along the front walk, bulging with ‘Orange Profusion’ Zinnias (Zinnia elegans). I’m still not over the jet lag from our 12 hour flight, and to be honest I am fading fast.

To be continued.

32 Comments on “Mid-August Blooms, Part 1”

  1. Hi Jason,
    I enjoyed seeing your yard. We have lots of plants and plant combinations in common with each other. I am finally seeing some butterflies, too. Also, like you, I enjoy the cutting back, staking, and deadheading.

    I had to look up Ratibida pinnata to see if it is also what I call gray-headed coneflower. Mine have some kind of disease on the leaves. Do yours? My anise hyssop plants don’t, I don’t think. I’ll have to check.

    • Perhaps … the Butterflyweed and Daylilies are no longer flowering, but I think they were done last year also. I looked at a post from last August and it did seem that maybe the Tithonia had more flowers. It wasn’t quite so tall as this year, either.

  2. The Tithonia and R. triloba are favorites of mine too. I’m sorry I can’t grow them now (in my shady garden), but I enjoy seeing them in yours. I do miss the blue, though. Some of the salvias we saw in the Oudolf border at the Toronto Botanical Garden could fill the bill.

    • I think those Salvias that last into August here are all annuals. Not that this is a disqualification. I had been thinking of some kind of native Verbena, or maybe Balloon Flower. I planted ‘Betty Corning’ Clematis for this purpose but it does not bloom into late summer, at least not this year in Chicago.

  3. I wish my garden looked so good after us being away! I can’t remember the last time we went away for 2 weeks, usually just go for 1 week as the garden would be such a mess when we get back. Love all the yellow that welcomed you back after your trip.

  4. Wow! Spectacular!! My yard it like this, too! You drive past all these sterile lawns and then BAM! I even had a real estate speculate call and offered to buy my abandoned house! Of course, around the house everything is neater with smaller plants but along the street and around the perimeter is a thick planting of plants!! 🙂

  5. Your garden is looking fabulous – so lush. Lucky that you had rain while you were away.

    I have to get out there and tidy up the borders the we re-mulched, but it’s been so hot that things are slow going on that front. I’m hoping to make a big dent in that this week since we are “supposed” to have cooler weather.

  6. I agree with a comment that I wished my garden looked as good after an absence! I turn my back and bindweed and creeping Charlie have moved in.
    Yellow is such a happy color. You must have enjoyed the welcome home.

  7. Your garden looks fantastic.

    Great job!

    I’ve had horrible luck growing Tithonia from seed, but you’re inspiring me to try again.

    Sorry to hear your Agastache is under attack. Hope it rebounds next year.

    Haven’t seen any monarchs here (which is odd, because I do have more milkweed than last year, and I did have some monarch cats last year), but lots and lots of other butterflies – mainly skippers, but also swallowtails, cloudless sulphur butterflies and even some zebra swallowtails!

    Hope you recover soon from jetlag. It always takes me a few days…

  8. All looking fantastic considering you’ve been away. My mother-in-law came to stay while we were away (for just over three weeks) and she dead-headed and cleared, etc. It would have been a jungle if she hadn’t! I know I’ve said it before but your neighbours are very lucky to have such a wonderful front garden to admire. PS I saw my first monarch butterflies in Yosemite Valley (awesome) but only managed to get a photo of one with wings closed – just couldn’t get one with open wings. Well done.

  9. Everything looks wonderful! You must have had more rain than we did during early August, because everything looks so green and lush. I finally have a few Tithonia blooming, but not all the seedlings I grew survived. Apparently, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to your comments in past years, because I didn’t realize they would get so tall! I was picturing something to mix in with the short zinnias:)

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