Happy 4th of July

July means day lilies (hemerocallis), and today the fireworks are just beginning to explode into bloom.  These are my favorite flowers.  As much as I love hydrangeas and my hansa roses, it is the day lilies that charm me the most.  The name “hemerocallis” means “bloom for a day” and that’s pretty much what day lilies do.  And, they do not actually belong to the lily family.

The Garden Lady stands sentinel in the day lily bed.
The Garden Lady stands sentinel in the day lily bed. That is Sea Urchin blooming to the left.  Red Rum is in the background.

It was colonists who brought day lilies to the New World, but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that hybridization really began. For centuries gardeners grew what are often referred to as “ditch lilies.”  These are the common orange flowers that we see growing wild along country roads, in old homestead sites, and in sunny meadows.  But those bright orange or sometimes yellow flowers are not native to North America.  They probably came to Europeans from China and other Asian countries where various parts of the plant were valued for their medicinal qualities.  Settlers carried day lily plants on horseback and in covered wagons across the North American continent.

Blooming today in the Secret Garden are Cystal Pinot, First Night, Sea Urchin, a nameless deep plum plant, and Red Rum.

But it’s not just day lilies that are gracing the garden.  Scroll down to see other shots.

The little miniature hostas that I bought a year ago are nestled near the back door.
The little miniature hostas that I bought a year ago are nestled near the back door.
Great Expectations, Francee, Stained Glass, and June are draping over the Secret Garden path, an indication that I really must thin these.
Great Expectations, Francee, Stained Glass, and June are draping over the Secret Garden path, an indication that I really must thin these.
This sunny path shows the Jean Davis lavender and Zagreb coreopsis.
This sunny path shows the Jean Davis lavender and Zagreb coreopsis.  In the foreground is First Knight about to bloom.
The red carpet rose provides a nice pop of color in the seating area of the Secret Garden.
The red carpet rose provides a nice pop of color in the seating area of the Secret Garden. That is Red Rum in the foreground to the right and Zagreb coreopsis in the left center.
The Crazy Daisy hasn't done well for the past couple of years, but it looked like it might be returning to health this year.  Until it flopped over.  Ergggg.
The Crazy Daisy hasn’t done well for the past couple of years, but it looked like it might be returning to health this year. Until it flopped over. Ergggg.
This Annabelle Hydrangea seems to be very happy this summer.  This is such a pleasant change.  Last summer's heat and drought didn't make for happy mop heads of bloom.
This Annabelle Hydrangea seems to be very happy this summer. This is such a pleasant change. Last summer’s heat and drought didn’t make for happy mop heads of bloom.
First Knight
First Knight
Nameless plum day lily that I bought a couple years ago that the Fulton Street Market.
Nameless plum day lily that I bought a couple years ago that the Fulton Street Market.
Crystal Pinot
Crystal Pinot
Red Rum
Red Rum

Feeling the Blues

I know that on my Blotanical profile I say that red is my favorite color in the garden.  But I also love those blues.  And the gardens are singing the sweet blues today.  The Hidcote Lavender (lavendula angustifolia hidcote) is in full bloom and so is the Jean Davis Lavender (lavendual angustifolia cv. Jean Davis), which is pink.  But never mind.  The Endless Summer (hydrangea macrophylla endless summer) hydrangeas are sorta kinda blue.

Endless Summer Hydrangea

I still haven’t gotten the right amount of acid applied to the soil around several of them.  The Nikko Blue (hydrangea macrophylla nikko blue) is anything but blue.

But the perennial geranium is bravely battling its way through the White Dome (arborescens ‘dardom’) hydrangeas and showing off its bright blue blooms.  These are especially pretty against the white lace caps.

But I’ve noticed something.  Or, more accurately, I have NOT noticed something.  There seem to be fewer bees humming around the hydrangeas.  It may be the weather has been too wet or too cool.   I’ve seen honey bees, but very few carpenter or bumble bees.  Bumble bees are social, but carpenter bees are solitary so  don’t think there was a hive collapse, primarily because carpenter bees don’t live in a hive.  I wonder if they were victims of our hard winter.

Perennial Geranium Amongst the White Dome Hydrangeas
Royal Candles Veronica With Lady's Mantle

The Royal Candles Veronica (Veronica spicata royal candles) is a pretty backdrop for the Lady’s Mantle.

But perhaps the big news of the day is that the first of the day lilies bloomed today.  Hemerocallis ‘Crystal Pinot’ wins the race.  I suspect others will pop open within the next few days.

The red carpet rose is also blooming.  And, it’s looking splendid against two perennial geraniums in the Secret Garden. I wish I had recorded this variety of perennial geranium. It blooms a little later, but is so nicely behaved.  Unlike the unnamed geranium in the lower garden, this variety doesn’t get leggy and flop.

I am totally in love with the rose campion (lychnis coronaria).  It doesn’t live very long, at least in my garden, but I’m willing to replant it every few years just for the lovely velvety grey foliage and the vibrant pink blooms.  It sits in my lower garden where I can see it from my kitchen widow.  I have a little desk in front of that window and often pop open my laptop and work there.  Since there are bird feeders outside the window, the cat usually joins me.

Rose Campion With Pigmy Barberry
Perennial Geranium With Red Carpet Roseflop.
Crystal Pinot Day Lily

Easing into the Solstice

It’s summer and the waxing moon rises in the south eastern sky.  Nestled beneath it the day lilies awake and nod, their loosened pollen dusting delicate petals.

Crystal Pinot

The first lily to bloom was Crystal Pinot.  I found it at the Farmer’s Market late last summer.  I love the ruffles.

My love of pink day lilies began when I went to a day lily farm in Byron Center.  The owner, an elderly woman, had planted acres of day lilies, row after row.  I wandered around amazed at the deep burgundies and luscious plum pinks.  I selected two and she told me to come back in two days.  I did, and found she had included a “gift” in the bag of unimpressive roots.  And that gift turned out to be my favorite, a very deep dark wine lily.  I have no idea what cultivar it is.  But when I moved to Grand Rapids, I dug up a a toe and healed it into a spot.  When I created the Secret Garden, I dug up the plant and placed it in my lily bed.  That lily has not yet bloomed, but an un-named lily that I bought last summer, again at the Farmer’s Market, is lovely.  I just wish I knew the name.  But there was no tag and the person selling plants at the stand didn’t know.

Un-named pink day lily

The Strawberry Candy lilies are starting to bloom, too.  I have these massed in several places in the front garden.  They are healthy and thick, just the way day lilies should be.

Strawberry Candy

Several years ago I was visiting with a neighbor and spied an old fence post that she had leaning against the house.  I commented on it, and it turns out she had another one.  And she gave it to me.  It has become an interesting feature in the Secret Garden.

I bought the perennial fuchsia last summer on the advice of one of the workers at a garden center.  I am delighted with this little firecracker!  I just wish I knew what I did with the tag that came with this plant.  Perhaps it will turn up in the collection of tags that I have yet to tape into my garden book.  Erg. I’m so far behind in my record-keeping.

Perennial Fuschia
Old Fence Post