Here is a discovery I made this year: Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) can be planted in an outdoor container and left there all through a zone 5 winter. The following spring, it will wake up cheerful and raring to go.

Great Blue Lobelia in containers with Caladiums

There are 2 species of summer-blooming Allium growing in our garden’s Left Bank and Lamppost Beds: the native Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) and the exotic hybrid ‘Millenium’.

Allium ‘Millenium’ blooming in the Left Bank Bed.

I went through a Daylily (Hemerocallis sp. and cvs.) phase for a year or two, then lost interest. This says more about me than it does about Daylilies – I go through frequent periods of enthusiasm for a particular species or genus of plant. In most cases the enthusiasm fades, but leaves behind a few clumps of plants here and there in the garden. Overall, I would say that the garden is better for it.

Daylily ‘Eye-yi-yi’

Just as Picasso had his blue period, our garden has its Yellow Period. Actually, there’s an Early and a Late Yellow Period. The Early Yellow Period starts in late July and is defined by 3 plants I refer to as the Jolly Yellow Giants.

Yellow Coneflower below, Cutleaf Coneflower above.

I’ve written recently about Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), the shortest of the Jolly Giants at about 5′ tall. The middle-sized Giant grows 7-8′ in our garden and is known as Golden Glow or Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata).

Cutleaf Coneflower aka Golden Glow

You can see how R. laciniata got the common name Golden Glow.


Aside from being taller than Yellow Coneflower, Cutleaf Coneflower has wider rays colored a deeper hue. Instead of flopping down, these rays are held away from the stem. Plus, the disc flowers of the central cone ripen to yellow rather than brown (remember the Russian fur hats?).

Cup Plant

The tallest of the three giants is Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), which grows to about 10′ in our garden.

Cup Plant with Wild Bergamot

Both Cutleaf Coneflower and Cup Plant go nicely with Wild Bergamot. They bloom together and have nicely contrasting colors and habits.


Here’s a picture taken from the driveway will all 3 of the Jolly Yellow Giants blooming together.


And here’s a picture taken from the sidewalk. This makes it more clear that the Yellow Coneflower and Cutleaf Coneflower are in the Driveway Border, while the Cup Plant stands at the back of the Front Island Bed.

The Late Yellow Period starts in August and features the blooms of Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) and Brown Eyed Susan (R. triloba).

I sometimes wonder if I’ve got too much yellow in July and August. However, the yellow is really concentrated in the Driveway Border and (during the Late Yellow Period) the Parkway Bed. . If you look at the Front Garden as a whole, the other beds and borders provide sufficient contrasting colors in summer. At least, that’s what I think at the moment.

The first Monarch Butterflies of the year were spotted in our garden back in June. However, they were loners who made a brief appearance and then were seen no more. It’s only been in the last week or so that we’ve seen a pair of Monarchs maintain a consistent presence. Or maybe it’s been multiple pairs replacing each other.

Monarch butterfly on Anise Hyssop

I was going to start this post by declaring that if I could only have one Lily, that would be the Oriental Lily ‘Casa Blanca’. But then I realized that I only have 4 kinds of Lilies altogether: there’s the Oriental-Trumpet hybrid ‘Conca d’Or’, a couple of Asiatic Lilies (variety unknown), and a few Martagon Lilies. The Martagons are enjoying their first season in our garden and have decided not to bloom this year.


Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) are two native prairie plants that look good together and generally have a lot in common.


Front yards are for showing off. That’s what I believe. That’s why when I think about what I’m going to plant and where, I think about how it will look to passersby on the sidewalk.

The view from our front sidewalk, going from east to west.

The genus Monarda brings wonderful gifts to the garden. Through trial and error, though, I’ve come to realize that getting the most out of Monarda species takes a certain amount of thought.

‘Raspberry Wine’

‘Conca d’Or’ is a magnificent Lily. It is one of a class of hybrids known as “Orienpets”, created by crossing Trumpet and Oriental Lilies.


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