Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, August 2014

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Welcome to my first-ever Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post! I didn’t know this was a thing until I went researching… something garden-related, I forget what… and came across the July Bloom Day entry on Cold Climate Gardening which led me to May Dreams Gardens and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (GBBD).

So, here I am. *waves*

As a newcomer to this community of garden bloggers, let me give you a little backstory.

(OK, maybe I’m overestimating the amount of new visitors I’m going to get from participating in GBBD, but here we go, anyway…)

our house, in the middle of our street

We bought our current house (on the edge of USDA Zones 6a and 6b) in early spring of 2013; along with the house, we also got a half-acre of property and many borders full of established plants. The previous owner — by all reports, a very sweet Jewish retiree who spent quality time every day in her gardens — had passed away several years before, and her daughter was in charge of the estate.

At first, I had assumed that all the borders were in a state of benign neglect; now, after over a year of me attempting to keep up with them and hold down a full-time job and wrangle a toddler, I realize that the daughter must have at least taken care of weeding.

I’m still learning about the plants I have and how to care for them. The previous owner seems to have been an impulsive gardener, putting new plants where she had room, and not really having planned any of the borders, so I feel like I don’t know what valuable plant might pop up unannounced (or unrecognized until it blooms, like a song you don’t think you know until you hear the chorus). I still haven’t had the sprinkler system turned on and tested, despite having Rainbird sprinkler heads in almost every border. But I do love my gardens, and I’m doing the best I can!

Now, on to the blooms…

June is really when my borders shine — peonies, poppies, and irises give a great show to passersby. Once July hits, though, I’m already longing for the days of August, when my Rose of Sharon shrubs will offer forth some much-needed color to the landscape again.

Rose of Sharon

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The lower-than-average rainfall this year has taken its toll on my plants, as evidenced by my droopy double Rose of Sharon, below. The white and lavender single varieties (above) don’t seem to be fazed.

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I was surprised to learn this month that the two big shrubs that didn’t bloom at all last year are actually Hardy Hibiscus!

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Color-starved as my front borders are in the summer, I’ve seen little pops of phlox here and there. I’m contemplating moving them all together to make a little more impact.

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Phlox and Goldenrod

I’m ambivalent-leaning-unhappy about the goldenrod. Through most of the summer, it looks like I just forgot to weed that spot, and it’s not until their beautiful pop of color in October that I’ll appreciate not having dug up these tall eyesores. If they didn’t spread so much, and look so weedy for so long, I might consider leaving them, or transplanting them somewhere else. As it is, though, I think I’ll let them enjoy one final season of bloom, then see how many tries it takes to eradicate them from this border.

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Also donating a few pops of color here and there are some small groupings of yarrow. I like them well enough, but they’re not very impactful where they are.

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Also in the front of the house are my rosebushes. Most of them got killed to the ground during the Polar Vortex, but most are coming back nicely.

Right in a row along my south fence are Dortmund, a climber that isn’t blooming nearly as proliferously as it did last year…

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…this delicate pink number, which is between bloom flushes at the moment, but looked like this last week…

Pink Miniature Rose

…and this white rose, which was the first to bloom this June, but currently is sporting only one flower on a thin, floppy cane.

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I also found these growing in amongst the roses. I have no idea what they are, but they sure look neat!

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In another border, my David Austin Heritage English Rose is coming back from a severe winter kill. It’s not as tall or as full or as proliferous as it was last year, but it seems to be doing fine.

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It’s not technically in bloom — that was in the spring — but I think this is Andromeda? I think it’s gorgeous, even when not in bloom, and I might have to incorporate it into some more of my borders.

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I think all of my mophead hydrangeas suffered some winter kill from the extreme cold, as the ones that are blooming are only doing so from the very inner branches, and have only one bloom each. They’re also changing from last year’s blue to a pale pink. Wonder how the aluminum content and pH of my soil changed so drastically over one year?

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The rest of the bloomers (so to speak) in the front borders are either done or not blooming this year for one reason or another, so let’s move to the back.

Along the south back fence, we have some Joe Pye Weed…

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…and a mum that’s been leafing out for a while, but just recently decided to bloom.

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Also along that fence, there’s a perennial that I still need to positively identify. Looks helianthus-ish to me, but I need to do some more research (i.e. send a picture to Garden Compass for identification). I suppose it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s happy. Which it seems to be.

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I’m not sure how this Russian Sage ended up so close to a hosta, and I’m also not sure how I’m going to extricate the two eventually. Add to that the chives that run rampant through this bed (but that I don’t necessarily want to kill), and the reorganization of this bed might just be Dig It All Up And Plant It All Again (And Hope Everything Survives).

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Across the yard, on the north fence, the bees are enjoying another, taller helianthus.

Helianthus and Bee

The hydrangea paniculata suffered no ill effects from a cold winter and a dry spring and summer. I love that I really don’t have to give it any special treatment for it to give me beautiful blooms every year.

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Early in the spring, I did a little pruning and removed an old rusty wire support that had been cutting into its trunk. Looked like it had been there for years.

Those phlox I mentioned earlier? I’m finding onesies and twosies of them back here, too. Trying to decide whether to move these to the front when I consolidate those, or to consolidate them in one of the borders back here.

Tall Garden Phlox

Tall Garden Phlox

In the border right behind the house, under the kitchen window, the butterfly bush that suffered severe winter kill has come back with all new growth and is in full bloom.

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Finally, nestled right next to the house, behind the fading tree peony, the hollyhocks have finally come out to say hello.

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Hopefully, someday, instead of sharing closeups of all these blooms, I’ll be able to take a long shot of my beds and borders and have them look impressive as a whole. It’s going to be a years-long project, though.

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly at all), I’m looking forward to it.

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2 thoughts on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, August 2014

  1. Very lovely post, Diana. And your photos were great as well. The plant you thought was Andromeda looks to me like it might be verigated Solomon’s Seal. And your double Rose of Sharon is beautiful. It looks like you have some deer damage by the looks of your hosta, too. The deer love the hostas as well as many other flower buds. Your roses look really nice too, considering the winter we had across the country.
    Good luck with your blog post! A great start!

    • I looked up Solomon’s Seal, and you’re absolutely right! I do have an andromeda that got hacked to the ground by an overzealous lawn guy, which was why I thought maybe I had another.

      The deer have been using my borders as their buffet this year! I wonder if their normal food was killed by the rough winter?

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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