All of a sudden, it’s hot out and feels like summer. But the garden is still clothed in the blues and whites of late spring, especially out front. The reds, yellows, and oranges (but especially yellows) of summer are gathering force, not yet ready to bust out. They are delayed in part because of the cold spring, in part because some plants were cut back hard.


Let’s take a tour of what’s blooming in the Front Garden. Our shrub rose ‘Cassie’ by the front door is smothered in small white blooms. Nothing stops this plant.


In other rose-related developments, ‘Sally Holmes’ now has a small truss of rose buds, so we will see some blooms this year after all. As you may recall, she was killed down to the ground over winter. ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ is also growing back, but is not sporting any buds that I can see.


‘Fascination’ Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum) is blooming nicely.


Unfortunately I will have to dig up this substantial clump in September when the crew arrives to fix our sewer line, but I should be able to put it back within a day.


After sulking for weeks in the cold, the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia grandiflora – lower right corner) is finally growing. Normally it would be much larger at this point in the season. For now I’m pinching off the flower buds to help it get bigger. That’s ‘Six Hills Giant’ Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) blooming around the Mexican Sunflower.


Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is still blooming, much to the delight of the bumblebees.


There’s a clump of Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis) near the sidewalk in the Left Bank Bed.


‘Betty Corning’ Clematis has started putting out a decent number of blooms, in both the Sidewalk and Driveway Borders. I would really like a hat that is shaped and colored like a giant ‘Betty Corning’ flower. I’m eager for the red and yellow flowers in these borders to start blooming so I can enjoy the contrast with Betty’s lavender blue.


Clematis ‘Multi-Blue’ is showing some blooms on the tuteur in the Herb/Cutting Bed.



The biggest Clematis news is that the very first buds have started to open on the Clematis jackmanii that twines up the Great Wall of Purple. Though I’d say C. jackmanii has not covered its wall as thickly in foliage as it has the last few years. Perhaps it sustained some damage from winter’s intense cold.


Aside from the containers, the only splash of hot color out front is from the Red Elderberries (Sambucus racemosa). And for the first time I see evidence that something is eating the red berries. I hope this means we’ll be seeing some Cedar Waxwings soon.

Tomorrow I’ll try to provide an overview of the Back Garden.

Is your garden looking more like summer, or more like the end of spring?


51 Comments on “On the Threshold of Summer”

  1. It is definitelysummer here with all the roses. The colours in the garden are mainly pinks, blues, purples and white, the hotter colours come mainly in August and September over here. I love all your blues, my favourite colour, they all add up to a lovely front garden.

  2. I have one Clematis that is blooming, but the rest are done. The Knockout Roses are doing pretty good but even they are suffering from something going on, the deer are eating some Hosta, and the lilies have just started. I was in awe of your first photo showing Alyssum in the container in the back. There was no Alyssum here to buy this year. It wasn’t available at the local greenhouse or the box stores. I always have Alyssum all over, but couldn’t find one six pack this year.

  3. Oh, that is the red elderberry that was blooming earlier; when I asked if it was a black elderberry. Well, it is obviously red. The trusses are not flat topped either. Our native red elderberry looks just like it (supposedly). I sort of want to grow it, even though it is not as good as the native blue elderberry. There are no black elderberries here.

  4. I really enjoy looking at your summer garden, so packed with blossoms and colour. I would love to grow ‘Fascination’ Culver’s Root …it surely would attract the bees and looks pretty. Good luck moving it in September.

  5. I dug up a Veronicastrum a couple of years ago and left the rootball sitting around in a tub trug for at least a year and it still grew. I am a notoriously abusive plant momma. It’s back in the ground now and doing fine, no worse off that I can see. Your blues and whites are wonderfully calming. I’ve got some hot colors showing up here, but no hot weather yet.

  6. Mine is speaking of late spring/early summer…but there has been a lot of progress over the past week with our similarly hot weather. Love the ‘Fascination’ Culver’s Root. I planted the straight species (not sure if it will end up blooming this year) but I think I may need to also add that one to the border.

  7. I did notice that quite a few plants are delayed, while others are right on track. In my shady garden, some plants that have a tendency to be thugs are really plentiful this year because of the excess rain, which is delaying and smothering others. It’s always a give-and-take/good year, bad year trade-off, isn’t it? I really like your Culver’s Root–that’s a shame that you’ll have to dig it all out, but I suppose it should be OK if you can put it right back.

  8. Like summer, and has been for a while. But, oddly, the Culver’s root is * just* beginning to color up, not anywhere near full bloom. That is, the one clump that still has bloom stalks left; this spring the deer chomped the top foot of the other clump, delaying or possibly eliminating its bloom for this year. They also ate down all the shoots of common milkweed, which was astounding; I’d have guessed those would have been too bitter for them. There are new milkweed sprouts coming along; with less rain and more heat than spring, they may not be as succulent.

  9. I love Veronicastrum Fascination, I’d like it running through the border. I’m glad Sally has survived, that is one rose you don’t want to be without. I shall be jealous when your tithonia blooms, the slugs have eaten all mine. A Betty Corning hat would be very fetching, you definitely need one.

  10. My garden is looking like early summer, with the pinks and yellows overtaking the blues. I think Betty Corning is one of the prettiest-shaped clematis. Have you noticed any fragrance on yours? Mine is very faint, though I should check it in evening. I have Sally Holmes as well, but it doesn’t get to ever bloom thanks to the deer. I thought it was dead after this winter, as well, but it is coming back. Lots of pretty blooms!

  11. I’m fascinated by the variety of clematis cultivars, as well as that Culver’s root. I’ve never heard of it, and never seen anything quite like it. I was surprised to see a second flush of spiderwort blooming alongside the roads this week; they’d been gone for some time. Now, the sunflowers, silphium, erynogo, and such are heading toward full bloom. We’re still getting nice amounts of rain, and combined with 90 degree temperatures, it’s turning into an especially green summer.

  12. It is suddenly summer here, too, and my garden is making that transition from early summer flowers (mostly blues, pinks and pastels) to the yellows that come on strong in July. The peonies and Siberian irises are just about done, and there are suddenly lots of flower scapes on daylilies.

  13. Good to hear you are enjoying some warmer weather. We could do with rain here, it’s far to dry now. Cassie is such a reliable rose, it’s lovely seeing her back and fully dressed.I do love fascination and all those wonderful blues, especially those clematis. I do hope the great wall is covered again this year, certainly a show

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