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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Full Monty - June

I once taught eighth grade special needs students at a school with an indoor pool. One day after swim lessons, a male gym teacher approached me with a look of concern furrowing his brow. "Um, Mrs. S, so-and-so wouldn't put his clothes back on and is running around the pool buck naked. We need you to go get him." "I'm not chasing a naked male student! You go get him!" I shot back. Did I mention the student was 6 ft tall and 16? I waited in the hallway with the girls who were giggling so hard snot shot from their noses. It was truly outstanding!

I decided this year, in the spirit of a student I will never forget, to just go naked - the full monty. Instead of only showing carefully angled close-ups, or some of the cropped shots I posted last year after several plants died in a drought, once a month I'll show the garden exactly as it is. I go Full Monty around the first of every month. Enjoy!!

The Front Garden
 A 'Pearle d'Azur' clematis climbs the columns in the front of the house while a chickadee nests in this house. Tradescantia, daylilies, phlox, and obedient plant grow at its base.

 A dwarf spirea and coreopsis 'Sunshine Superman' grow between the steps and the clematis. The old birdbath was accidentally knocked over and now the spirea is full of flat glass marbles. Oy!

 The clematis clambers over anything in its path, including my containers. A pink impatien peeks out from under clematis leaves.

A bunny lives in the dwarf abelia in the front yard. It's been dining al fresco on my toad lilies. 'Endless Summer' hydrangea grow under the window. The abelia's leaves will turn pink, cream, and green as it gets hotter. They are still spring green right now. 

 A long row of trailing lavender lantana grows alongside the front walkway. Lantana laughs off heat, drought, and utter neglect. Plus, the pollinators love it!

The Yuck Side

 The rainbow leucothoe (left) in front of the lilacs looks like a space alien.

  The Big Daddy rain barrel in the back corner can hold 156 gallons.

Meet Fred, the world's biggest bleeding heart. That is only ONE plant!!

The Dry Side

 This garden is full of heat loving plants that always looks their best when the rest of the garden is hooked up to an aquatic IV.
 Salvia 'Plumerosa' (I think!) is a very early bloomer that sprawls and flops while the other plants are still sprouting. It's quite a hog! After its first flush of blooms, I cut it back hard to keep it it line.

I love its fluffy purple flowers.

 The dogs have been going on safari in this part of the garden! Ugh! The milkweed and  perennial snapdragons have been trampled quite a bit. The snapdragons need to start biting back!!

Perennial snapdragons are the host for the little buckeye butterfly. Last fall, they were covered with caterpillars.

Veronica spicata 'Ericka' - New foliage is red before slowly turning green.

The trumpet creeper is filling out and should be covered with orange flowers within the next few weeks. I keep it pruned into submission or it would take over. It's constantly waging war with my garden and has invaded my neighbors grass. Oops!

The Dog Run Garden

It's officially summer when we put out the hammock. Even the dogs like to lay in it.

The wine cups are some of the earliest bloomers. The enormous mound behind them is seed grown rudbeckia triloba that I forgot I had sown until they started growing and squeezed out the more mild mannered 'Goldsturm'. Holy cow! They are about 4 1/2 feet tall and haven't even bloomed yet!

 I just added some variegated sedum to the garden. The burgundy knautia bloom all summer.

The Stella d'Oro's have just started to open.

This picture is taken from inside the dog run, which is almost invisible at this point. Daylilies, 'Chocolate' eupatorium, and a huge clump of various monardas grow well here. The daylilies are being shaded by the monster rudbeckia. A wren has taken up residence in the red bird house.

Lucy hangs out in the dog run near the cup plant, a southeastern native. It's leaves form a cup where they meet the stem. This will put up three foot stalks of yellow daisy-like flowers with seeds that are loved by the birds. I've seen birds drink from the water caught in the little "cups". Lucy is a beagle/basset/golden retriever mix that was nearly put to sleep at a rural pound before being rescued by the no-kill shelter I volunteer for.

The Back Garden

 The scabiosa and pink knautia have already started blooming. White dianthus is still blooming in the corner. This bed is full of asters, agastache, coneflowers, helianthus, geraniums, sedum, dalea, and ornamental oregano.

The clematis along the back fence is still blooming. The pink clematis blooms first followed by the lavender.

 The Chester Thornless blackberries are devoured by the birds every summer.
 Spigellia marilandica, a native wildflower, is thriving in the moist shade near the blackberries. I've also heard them called Lipstick plant.They attract hummingbirds.

Spigelia grows between pink Persian Cornflowers and white balloon flowers.

 Red Maltese cross grows near the 'Etoille Violette' clematis. White gooseneck loosetrife is trying very hard to take over. Ugh! I pulled a ton of it last fall!! Grr....

Tradescantia near the crepe myrtles. Blackberries grow on the other side of the crepe myrtle.

I think the asters suffocating under the helianthus and bigroot geranium need a new home in another spot in the garden!

The River Birch Garden

The epimediums are so happy in the dry shade here, they're muscling out several other plants.

The beautiful variegated brunnera and most of the tiarella died in the drought last year. I've filled their spot with a chrysoganum 'Quinn's Gold'. It's hard to see in this picture.

The Dogwood Garden

My columbine are still blooming! I replaced my giant blue concrete bird bath with a much lighter red enamel bowl with wrought iron stand. Whenever I tried to clean the concrete bowl, I usually ended up dropping it in the garden. It weighed a ton!! No more crushed flowers when I clean the birdbath. Hooray!

Yellow helianthus are already five feet tall! They weren't this big last year! I took three small shrubs out of this bed to give the interior plants more sun and it's really paying off.

 The milkweed is getting ready to bloom. A heavily pruned sweetspire 'Little Henry' is in the front.

 Another sweetspire, geraniums, yarrow, coneflowers, lilies, and more fill this bed.

I wonder how long the columbine will keep going!!

The Rose of Sharon Garden

To help solve the problem of germinating bird seed, I cover the area under the feeders with large flat rocks. This gives the ground feeding birds a chance to eat and helps reduce the amount of seed that grows between the plants.

 For my birthday I bought a rock! Diamonds don't impress me much but I'm a sucker for an awesome rock.
 The pink clematis and 'Sceptre d'Isle' rose will bloom for several more weeks. Geraniums and phlox grow between the rose and the patio. The Rose of Sharon is covered in tiny buds.

White heart leafed asters and blue plumbago grow in the dry shade under the Rose of Sharon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Clematis and a Mystery Caterpillar

It's officially summer here when I spot the first swallowtail caterpillars in my curly parsley and rue. Hooray!!

 At first glance I thought both caterpillars were the same but the caterpillar in my rue has raised orangish bumps with black spikes and black and white lines. Hmmm.... What kind of swallowtail do you think this is?

This is the caterpillar for an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a huge yellow and black butterfly commonly seen in my garden.

They devour the curly parsley that I plant just for them. I sow several pots of parsley every spring and let the flower heads self-sow sporadically throughout the summer to keep the caterpillars well supplied. I've never found them on my flat leaf parsley. Curly parsley grows well in hot, dry spots. If you give it too much waer, it will rot.

'Roguchi' clematis are beautiful purplish-blue bell shaped clematis that bloom all summer.

They die to the ground every winter so you don't have to worry about how to prune them. I leave the stems in place and then cut them to the ground in early spring.