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.


So let’s take a look at our containers in the shady back garden, shall we?


This weekend was full of observances in our family. Saturday was Judy’s birthday. Sunday was our wedding anniversary – the 35th. Also Father’s Day, of course.

Shrub rose ‘Cassie’

Last fall I purchased 2 Bowman’s Root (Porteranthus trifoliatus or Gillenia trifoliata, depending on who  you ask), after seeing them massed beautifully outside Lurie Garden. Though it’s been less than a year, I’ve made up my mind: I definitely want more.


How is it that the 2 leading common names of Aruncus dioicus are Goat’s Beard and Bride’s Feathers? Apparently plants can be a sort of Rorschach test, reflecting great variations in perception within the human psyche.


June is the month of blue flowers, or so it seems in our garden. Sadly, we are missing one of my favorites, Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis), which was lost to sewer repair. I planted a replacement, but it won’t bloom this year.


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