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.


Flowers for shade, especially perennials, are usually associated with springtime, before the leaf canopy fills in and blocks most of the sunlight.  We do have a few summer blooms in our shady back garden, though.


There’s a hole at one end of the Driveway Border that I had expected to be full of colorful flowers by now. But it was not to be.


A number of plants have been harmed by Four-Lined Plant Bugs (FLPB) this year, none more so than the Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginucum). Here’s how the Culver’s Root was looking a month ago.



And here’s all that’s left of it right now. Terrible picture, but the single dying stem is circled in blue. You get the idea.

2014-07-06 12.08.47 Culver's Root 'Fascination'

By way of contrast, here’s how the Culver’s Root looked on a good year.

4 lined plant bug
Four-Lined Plant Bug

The FLPB is on the verge of wiping out the Culver’s Root, but it also has damaged some other plants, notably the Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). However, it does look like we will still get some bloom this year from the Anise Hyssop. In an earlier year, the FLPB killed my patch of Calamint (Calamintha nepetoides).

My general approach is to forego all pesticides, but these critters are trying my patience.


My Milkweeds are blooming very sparsely this year. The picture above is all I’ve gotten so far out of the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the Sidewalk Border. The Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) in the Driveway Border is the same story (though there is a decent patch of bloom on the other side of the driveway).

Something causes most of the Milkweed flower buds to wither before they open. The Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata) hasn’t begun to bloom yet but I’m keeping an eye on it.

Another disappointment: this spring I planted some Russian Hollyhock (Alcea rugosa) and Fig-Leaved Hollyhock (A. ficifolia). I thought they would bloom this year but it appears I was wrong. There are plenty of leaves, but no flower stalks. Seems I’ll have to wait for next year.

Are you missing any expected blooms in your garden this year?

We’re coming out of a lull in which the Front Garden was almost entirely green. Sure, I know green is a color but still – it’s not a color. You know what I’m saying. Now, as we shift into summer, the real colors are coming back.


Readers of this blog know that we’ve been worrying about our prize Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ that grows on a west-facing wall near the front door.

Recently the Chicago Botanic Garden was reopened to the public. You’ve got to make a reservation for a specific time slot, as they are controlling the number of people who can be present at any given time. So last Thursday Judy and I got a pass to enter at 5 pm, for our first visit of the year.


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