August is normally summer’s turning point. It is usually an August day when you realize that there are more flowers fading than coming into bloom. Though this year has been a little different, with the blooms of a number of plants delayed for weeks. Let’s take a look at the state of the Front Garden on the first of August.


Here’s a view from the front door. This has really been the Year of the Monarda in the Front Garden, with what seems like months of color. The red Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) in the Sidewalk Border began the show. It’s fading now but not done by a long shot. Then the lavender and purple strains of Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa) in the Driveway Border took the lead, and they are still looking quite perky.



If you look to the right, you’ll see that the Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is blooming in the Front Island Bed, with more Wild Bergamot from the Driveway Border in the foreground. The Cup Plant seems shorter this year, and the flowers less showy, as if something (Japanese Beetles?) has been chewing on the petals.


For the last several years Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) has had a big presence in the Driveway Border by the time we got to late July. This year, thanks to the cold spring, the Mexican Sunflowers are about half their normal size. Instead of masses of orange flowers we just have a sprinkling. They have been catching up, though, so I’m hopeful that there are far more orange daisies in our future.




There’s another annual in the Driveway Border: ‘Italian White’ Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). They’d have a bigger impact if they weren’t mostly hidden behind the Wild Bergamot.



There’s also a sizable clump of Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus). Right about now the seed heads start to get interesting.


Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is one of my favorite flowers, but recently it’s been ravaged by Four-Lined Plant Bugs. The FLPB population is diminishing, though, and the Anise Hyssop is making a comeback. I love those blue flower spikes and the fragrant leaves.


So here’s one view from the far end of the Driveway Border. You can see the ‘Eye-yi-yi’ Daylilies and the Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata). The Yellow Coneflower is still the only one of the yellow daisies of summer to provide any color to date. Again, this is unusual.



Here’s another view from the far end of this border.


Between the brilliant white flowers and the amazing fragrance, the Oriental Lily ‘Casa Blanca’ is a showstopper. It takes over just as the Oriental-Trumpet ‘Conca d’Or’ starts fading away.


Over in the Front Island Bed, the Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) looks a little feeble. Only a few flowers have started to bloom (another unusual delay), and the flower clusters seem smaller.


Here’s another view of the Cup Plant, along with the Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) that is planted at the back of the Front Island Bed. There’s plenty of ‘Purple Rooster’ Monarda growing in the middle of the bed.


The Sidewalk Border is still all about Bee Balm. There’s some Swamp Milkweed that hasn’t bloomed yet, and the fading ‘Conca d’Or’ Lilies.


At this point in the season, the seed heads of Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) make me think of green confetti being thrown onto the Bee Balm flowers.

That’s enough for now. Writing a garden blog is a little like showing friends pictures of your children. You have to restrain yourself from showing them EVERYTHING all at once, even though you can’t imagine why anyone would not be fascinated by every single scene.

Soon I’ll do another post about what I like to call the Left Bank, the part of the garden on the other side of the driveway. In the meantime, I hope your garden is giving you lots of color and helping you stay sane in this insane world.


28 Comments on “The Front Garden on August 1”

  1. Your milkweed may be a little feeble, but I think I see a couple of milkweed bugs hanging out on it. It never occurred to me that people might have hyssop in their gardens today. The only times I’ve come across references to the plant are in the Bible — particularly, the Psalms. We have the inland sea oats — so graceful! — and Joe Pye weed. I can’t wait to see what the Left Bank looks like.

  2. I planted bee balm for the first time this year and have yet to see any sign of a flower. But since this is just my second summer here, I have a lot to learn about this space. It appears that you and your garden are old friends. Those white lilies are real eye candy. How tall is the anise hyssop?

  3. Ha, my garden does help me stay sane in this world but it doesn’t have so much color as yours does right now. It has quieted down. I have those sea oats but they aren’t intermingling with anything. They are in a big clump that has recently been thinned by someone that wants something that will fill a large space. He will be satisfied with this I am sure. Your color makes me want more color in my garden. I actually got some Tithonia to grow here this year. The butterflies found it. It is so far away from the house that I have to use binoculars to see it or walk out there to watch what is going on. Another place for a bench I guess. It is one of the few places that has enough sun for it. It grew taller than our 4’fence which made me very happy. Love seeing your garden no matter how much you show.

  4. I’m always in awe of how many different things you grow. Since my borders have been dominated by annuals such as zinnia, scabiosa, cosmos, etc., I always find that August is one of the best months, when many of these really get going in earnest. Now that a good chunk of the perennial border has been planted, it will be fun to see the progression of perennial blooms next year. And I love, love, love the Italian White Sunflower and have added it to my list 🙂

  5. Both of the Oriental lilies you’re growing are just smashing; clearly they like the long, cool start to this season. They’re vulnerable to so many things here that it’s often not worth the expense and effort, but it’s such a pleasure to see them flourishing.

  6. So lovely! I bet the butterflies are wild about your garden! Your monarda is gorgeous! I have had monarda for several years, in several locations. Sadly, I am going to give up on it. Mine is constantly diseased and has few blooms; perhaps I have too much humidity. As much as I want to grow it, I also have had little luck with asclepias.

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