September 15, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Autumn is turning here in West Michigan, but on this rainy cold Bloom Day, the gardens are still kicking.  And here’s a shout out for Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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The datura just keep blooming. And because it is a wet and gloomy day, last night’s blooms have remained open.
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Sweet Autumn clematis is in full bloom, both at the entrance to the Secret Garden and in the lower garden. Notice that I have experimented with a few bricks.

My big news, though, is that in a couple of weeks my crushed limestone paths in the Secret Garden will become bricked pathways.  I initially thought I would hire a landscaper to do the job.  But my garden guru Dale has a neighbor who needed to get rid of more than a thousand bricks that were once a retaining wall.  And, my friend Maja in Maine volunteered to lay the bricks.  So, rather than the sterile perfection of a professionally laid path, I’m going to get something far more interesting and meaningful.

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These lovely little stars send out a subtle fragrance and from a distance create a halo of white on the arbor and on the fence in the lower garden.
Sweet Autumn clematis taking over the fence and spilling onto one of the arborvitae.
Sweet Autumn clematis taking over the fence and spilling onto one of the arborvitae.

And, of course, I’ve been playing with bricks.  At first I thought I would need to get rid of the crushed limestone, but now I think it will create a good foundation for the bricks.  This means the pathway will be a little higher than it is “supposed” to be, but I suspect that won’t be a big issue, especially when fresh bark is spread on the garden next spring.

The Walker's Low catmint in the entrance garden are lush and on sunny days a lure for bees.
The Walker’s Low catmint in the entrance garden are lush and on sunny days a lure for bees. There are several pots of rudbeckia and some yellow blackberry lilies ready to plant.
Helianthus and HIdcote lavender in the Secret Garden
Helianthus and HIdcote lavender in the Secret Garden
Rain-dappled yellow canna at the side of the house.
Rain-dappled yellow canna at the side of the house.
Pink anemone and few echinacea in the Secret Garden
Pink anemone and few echinacea in the Secret Garden
Nameless white climber in the corner garden.
Nameless white climber in the corner garden.
This red Knock Out rose has been blooming like this all summer. And the Carpet Rose next to it has been doing almost as well.
This red Knock Out rose has been blooming like this all summer. And the Carpet Rose next to it has been doing almost as well.
White Phlox in the Secret Garden.
White Phlox in the Secret Garden.
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The Honorine Joubert anemone are blooming in the Secret Garden.
Aproximately 1400 bricks waiting to become a pathway in the Secret Garden.
Aproximately 1400 bricks waiting to become a pathway in the Secret Garden.

Chilly End of July

Datura bud waiting to unfurl.
Datura bud waiting to unfurl.

Though the temps are only in the high 50’s, it is still summer in the garden and today’s rain was welcomed.  I’ve taken advantage of the cooler temps and moved a few things.  I wilt less in cooler weather.  And, of course, the plants don’t mind a cool move and a nice rain.  The Ruby Stellas under the Rose of Sharon have never done well and so I pulled one clump out.  I’ll probably remove the other two clumps, too.  And, since the Francis Williams hostas under the kitchen window were looking really bedraggled, I moved them to a spot under the Rose of Sharon.  They might like the shade there better.

This Deep Blue Sea hosta was planted a year ago and it's doing very well.  So is its neighbor My Friend Nancy.  Of COURSE I had to get THAT hosta!
This Deep Blue Sea hosta was planted a year ago and it’s doing very well. So is its neighbor My Friend Nancy. Of COURSE I had to get THAT hosta!
The old Rose of Sharon is in full bloom.  Notice the Citronelle heuchera and the Francis Williams hostas.
The old Rose of Sharon is in full bloom. Notice the Citronelle heuchera and the Francis Williams hostas.

 

It’s sale season at garden centers and so I went to one yesterday that tends to be more expensive.  Their perennials were half off, so I picked up a couple of heucheras (Citronelle) and few other things.  I thought the bright yellow Citronelle would look nice under the Rose of Sharon with the Francis Williams.

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Datura bloom

I’m seriously considering taking the crushed limestone out of the Secret Garden and putting in brick pathways.  I asked a landscaper to come by last week and measure.  But a good friend from Maine has offered

Fragrant Angel echinacea and the Kim's Knee High
Fragrant Angel echinacea and the Kim’s Knee High

to do the work.  And I think I’m going to take her up on her offer.  I have another friend who can get me lots of bricks for free, so this might work out quite well.

One of my favorite spots in the Secret Garden is a home to various heucheras and hostas under the Kousa Dogwood.
One of my favorite spots in the Secret Garden is a home to various heucheras and hostas under the Kousa Dogwood.
This sunny bed in the Secret Garden is crammed full of echinacea, White Dome hydrangea, Jean Davis lavender, liatris, Cool Cat Nepeta, and East Friesland salvia
This sunny bed in the Secret Garden is crammed full of echinacea, White Dome hydrangea, Jean Davis lavender, liatris, Cool Cat Nepeta, and East Friesland salvia

 

Over the Moon for Moonflowers

In my previous post I mentioned that my moonflowers (datura) were cascading over the crushed limestone pathway.  We’ve had lots of rain here in West Michigan, and the moonflowers keep growing.  I love this rambunctious shrubby plant.  First, it almost completely disappears when the frost hits. The leaves shrivel and die, leaving thick twisted and woody stalks that look more like branches from a fallen tree than the stalks of a flowering plant.  Each spring I have a momentary lapse of faith in my moonflowers, thinking they did not survive the winter.  In fact, this spring I bought a plant.  But each year I finally see a tiny green wrinkled leaf emerge.  It grows from the roots.  And before long, the plant is three feet tall and sending out huge folded buds that unfurl into beautiful white trumpets the size of large saucers.

Moonflower (Datura)

Oddly, the plant I bought this spring is still small.  The tiny wrinkled leaf that emerged after I plunked that other plant into its space is at least twice the size.  This means the crushed limestone path is in double trouble.  The moonflowers are planted in a large island with a limestone path on each side.  I suppose I could trim the things back.  A prim and proper gardener would tame that plant.  Sigh.

And moonflowers are fragrant.  So, between the phlox, the purple petunias, the Fragrant Angel Coneflowers and the moonflowers, my garden bears its sweetest scents after the sun goes down.

The Unruly Moonflower

I really noticed the petunias this evening.  They suddenly filled in.  I wish the red petunias that I planted in front of the boxwood in the front yard would fill in like that.  This is the last year I will plant them.  I love the red, but they just don’t look the way I want them to.  I’m going back to marigolds.

I do love the purple petunias for their scent and for that wonderful velvety texture.

This picture makes them look bluer than they really are.  This clump sits in front of two Blue Knight Caryopteris.  You’d think I’d learn not to go overboard with the caryopteris.  They love my gravely soil and will crowd out the Annabelle Hydrangea.  I will need to remedy that situation next spring.

Petunia

Sadly, the day lilies are fading.  I have lots of stalks to cut.  Strawberry Candy has completely finished.  The deep red day lily has a few buds left, but a number of stalks are finished.  First Knight is still going strong, as is Storm of the Century.  I’ve decided to transplant Lavender Doll.  The flowers are too small.  I need something that can hold its own with the Tardiva Hydrangea–something as strong as the deep red lily below.

Deep Red Day Lily with Tardiva

Butterflies and Blossoms

I’ve been slammed with work, and, I confess, a new diversion.  I bought a recumbent tricycle and have been exploring local bike trails.  But whether I’m riding past Indian burial mounds and Grand River bayous or reading masters theses, the garden grows.  And grows.

Butterfly on mandevilla flower

I planted several mandevilla vines hoping they would temporarily fill in the empty spaces along the west side of the Secret Garden.  They aren’t, but I like the flowers.  And, apparently, so does this skipper butterfly.

There are lots of white flowers happening in the garden right now.  Tardiva is in full bloom.   As is the phlox.  I had hoped the moonflowers that bloomed last night would still be opened this morning when I took these shots, but, alas, they were not.  I keep thinking I need to go out at night and take pictures.  But the moonflower plants are so big they completely drape across the pathway.  I discovered a ripening seedpod, though.  These are such strange looking fruits!

Datura Seedpod (with Nicotiana)
Tardiva

The white liatris on the west side of the Secret Garden is done, but the clump on the east side, next to the garage, is just starting.

Just outside my kitchen window Limelight Hydrangea is in full bloom.  I love the way it turns from green to white.

Limelight Hydrangea

And lastly, I couldn’t resist including here yet another picture of the entrance to the Secret Garden.

Entrance to the Secret Garden