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Approaching High Summer: GBBD, July 2011

July 16, 2011

The back garden in mid-July 2011 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) July is high summer in Maine, but the arrival of high summer in the garden varies from one year to the next. Last year, when spring and summer came early in Maine, I noted on July 15th that the garden had that slightly blowsy feel of being past its peak. This year, weeks of rain in May and unseasonably cool temperatures in June have delayed the bloom times of most plants, with the result that the high summer height of blooms has not yet arrived. I would describe the garden today as approaching high summer, but not yet there.

One indicator of high summer in my garden is the bloom of daylilies. There is a moment in July when almost all my daylilies are blooming simultaneously, with the early daylilies opening their last flowers and the late ones opening their first flowers. Last year, that moment fell during the second week in July, and I counted more than 30 different varieties of Hemerocallis blooming, including 6 different varieties in the deck border and 9 in the blue and yellow border. This year, only three early daylilies are in bloom in the blue and yellow border (although two others look like they will open their first flowers in the next day or two), and none are blooming yet in the deck border or in the fence border.

But let me take you through today’s blooms one garden area at a time:

The best show of daylilies in my garden right now is along the front of the property, where this display of yellow, orange, and red greets visitors coming up the dirt road.

Daylilies greeting visitors in July (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Circular bed vignette in July (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) In the circular bed, at the turn into the driveway, a single flamboyant gold daylily is in bloom, but it is accompanied by the flowers of Tradescantia ‘Danielle’, Geranium x ‘Brookside,’ Heliopsis  helianthoides ‘Bressingham Doubloon’, the violet and blue flowers of Delphinium ‘Pagan Purple’, and the first flower of Geranium pratense ‘Splish-Splash’.
Clockwise from top left: Heliopsis 'Bressingham Doubloon' with Delphinium 'Pagan Purple', Geranium x 'Brookside', Geranium pratense 'Splish-Splash', detail of Delphinium 'Pagan Purple', Tradescantia 'Danielle', gold daylily (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)
Daylilies and coreopsis naturalizing at the edge of the woods (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Across the driveway from the circular bed, the clumps of old-fashioned tawny daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) and Coreopsis verticillata ‘Golden Showers’ that are being encouraged to naturalize at the edge of the woods grow bigger each year.
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Daylily 'Happy Returns' and hosta bloom together on the back slope (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) On the back slope, the biggest splash of color is from Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’, but its blooms are accompanied by an unidentified deep red daylily, Tradescantia ‘Osprey’, more Coreopsis ‘Golden Showers,’ and the tall wands of hosta inflorescences.
Clockwise from upper left: Unidentified red daylily, Coreopsis 'Golden Showers', hosta flower, Hemerocallis 'Happy Returns' (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)
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The deck border, mid- july 2011 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Although there are no daylilies blooming yet in the deck border, various cultivars of Astilbe are putting on quite a show. I love the way the plumes of Astilbe thumbergii ‘Ostrich Plume’ nod over the retaining wall, with the white plumes of Aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard) floating above them, as you approach the back garden from the driveway. ‘Ostrich Plume’ is at its peak now, as are the delicate flowers of Astilbe x ‘Betsy Cuperus’. The early Astilbe varieties, A. x ‘Cattleya’ A. x ‘Bridal Veil’ and A. biternata (the only native North American astilbe) are fading, and the tall spires of A. thumbergii ‘Morheim’s Glory’ and   A. chinensis taquetti are just beginning to bloom. Among the supporting players in the deck border are a few remaining blooms of Spirea x ‘Magic Carpet,’ masses of pink flowers on several varieties of Geranium endressii and Geranium x oxonianum, the flowers of Tradescantia ‘Pink Chablis,’ and  two varieties of Astrantia major.

Clockwise from upper left: Astilbe 'Ostrich Plume' and Aruncus dioicus, Tradescantia 'Pink Chablis' with polinator, Astilbe 'Betsy Cuperus', flowers on Hosta 'Love Pat,' Astrantia 'Claret', Geranium endressii, Astrantia major (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)

The blue and yellow border, mid- july 2011 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Across the walkway in the blue and yellow border, a strong yellow presence is being provided by three different daylily varieties blooming at the center of the border and Coreopsis ‘Golden Showers’ and Heliopsis helianthoides blooming at the east end of the bed. There are also blue and violet accents in the flowers of Tradescantia ‘Zwannenburg Blue,’ Linum perenne, Campanula persicifolia ‘LaBelle.’ and Geranium hybrids ‘Nimbus’ and ‘Brookside.’

Clockwise from top left: Hemerocallis 'Boothbay Harbor Gold', Hemerocallis 'Alna Pride', Tradescantia 'Zwannenburg Blue', unknown Hemerocallis variety, Geranium x 'Nimbus', Heliopsis helianthoides, Linum perenne (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)

Pink flowers in the fence border, mid- july 2011 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Pink flowers hold the stage in the fence border. Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ is covering the fence with her mauve blooms, while her new companion, Clematis viticella ‘Ababella’ is mostly hiding her flowers behind the tall plants growing along the fence. Two varieties of Geranium endressii at the center of the bed are covered with pink flowers, and one of them is cozying up to the blue and white flowers of Tradescantia ‘Osprey’.  At the end of the border, the tall Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ is just opening the first of its lemon yellow flowers.

Clockwise from top right: Clematis Comtesse de Bouchaud, Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' flower opening, Geranium endressii with Tradescantia x 'Osprey' (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)

High summer isn’t quite here yet, but it is approaching quickly. Come back in about a week to see the full show!

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what is in bloom this month in gardens around the world.

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37 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2011 2:23 am

    Isn’t this a great time? Blooms, blooms, blooms! Love them all! Tradescantia ‘Pink Chablis’is so delicate! I have two varieties – blue and white, but never seen a pink one. I’ll stop by in a week to see the full show! Thank you Jean!

    • July 17, 2011 5:12 pm

      Tatyana, I do love this time of year in the garden! ‘Pink Chablis’ is one of the Andersoniana hybrid tradescantia. I’ve seen some photos of them where the flowers are mostly pink with a little white around the edges, but I think of mine as white brushed with pink, in much the same way that the cultivar ‘Osprey’ is white brushed with blue. One difference, though, is that Osprey comes true from seed in my garden, but I have never had a self-sown Pink Chablis (not a big issue, though, since they form big clumps and are easily divided).

  2. July 16, 2011 7:12 am

    Even with all our heat and drought I am not sure if we hit our peak or it is still coming because my blooms are not as full as last year. Even the lilies and buddleias are stunted in growth which I have not seen for a long time. I love the blue and yellow border flowers…gorgeous blooms. So funny how your same flowers in my garden are done blooming except for the daylilies and rudbeckias..so maybe we hit our peak…hmmm…Happy GBBD!!

    • July 17, 2011 5:19 pm

      Donna, I feel as though Maine is this cool corner of the country this year, when so many have been suffering with extreme heat and either drought or floods. Right now, we are having a “heat wave,” which consists of 3 days of somewhat humid air and temps around 90. It’s not even an official heat wave, which requires hitting 90 or higher 3 days in a row, but you’d never know it from the way people are moaning about the heat. (Well, except for those on islands or at the beach, which is the perfect place to be.) I also have some plants that are not doing well this year, but I’m not sure why. This has not been a good year for delphinium, and a number of my daylilies have not sent up flower scapes. One factor may have been our exceptionally cool June, where many days never made it out of the fifties and there was little warm weather. My poor morning glories germinated in record time during a rare few days of warm weather at the beginning of June and then shivered in the cold. Last year, the vines had reached the top of the fence by mid-July; this year, they’re not even 1 foot long! (I think I can forget about having morning glories on the fence this fall.) But GBBD provides a great opportunity to focus on all the wonderful flowers that are blooming instead of the ones that are not!

  3. July 16, 2011 8:02 am

    Jean I will definitely be back to see the ‘full show’. What a wonderful and detailed tour you gave in this post.

    I’m happy to see that you have the good old-fashioned ‘tawny’ (what a great way to describe the colour) in your garden. Mine are very special to me, as they came from our old family cottage.

    Have a great weekend!

    • July 17, 2011 5:30 pm

      Diane, I love those orange daylilies, and I’ve never seen them at a nursery. I got mine from a friend by convincing her she should divide hers and then offering to help :-). Throughout my childhood, I thought daylilies were wildflowers because I saw them blooming at the side of the road in July. Around here they tend to bloom at the same time as plain green hostas that are also often growing along the side of the road — and the tall orange daylilies on their slender stems and the long wands of hosta flower scapes swaying together in the breeze is a quintessential image of summer for me.

      I will post an update of what’s in bloom in a week or so. As I predicted, two more yellow daylilies have put in an appearance, and the first of the balloon flowers, the dwarf ‘Sentimental Blue’, look like they’re going to pop tomorrow. I’m still waiting for the pink daylilies to begin to bloom, though.

  4. July 16, 2011 8:27 am

    One thing I appreciate about Maine is how good the gardens look in July and even August. I like the border along your deck with the goats’ beard and astilbe. And the combination of the gold flowers with blues of delphinium and tradescantia is stunning. I’m now wondering how the neglected gardens at our cottage are doing – I’ve been away for almost a year now.

    • July 17, 2011 5:35 pm

      Sheila, It’s true. There may not be much to see in our gardens in April and May when people in other parts of the country are luxuriating in spring, but we make up for it in July and August! Will you get up to your cottage in August? When the late Charles Kurault knew he was dying, he chose to spend a year by going each month to a place that was the perfect place to be at that time of year; he spent August on the coast of Maine.

  5. July 16, 2011 8:50 am

    Hello Jean, I went back to our home in New Hampshire for two days this week. I was thinking that I would take a few photos of my lilies in bloom along my garden fence. I was surprised to find that there was just one blossom. Now that I am back in Maine, I’m sure they are putting on quite a show. I’m going move some to Maine next spring.

    • July 17, 2011 5:41 pm

      Karen, I’m always moving divisions of plants back and forth between my two gardens. So many things bloomed extra-early here last year (because spring was so warm) that the flowers seem late this year by comparison. Out of curiosity, I just looked at my garden record for this weekend in 2008, and pretty much exactly the same flowers were in bloom as today!

  6. Nell Jean permalink
    July 16, 2011 9:55 am

    Daylilies and other delights at your place are looking good. Hooray for summer. I think your summer blossoms happen to us in spring. We’ve moved on to tropical summer.

    • July 17, 2011 5:44 pm

      Nell, I suspect you’re right about spring and summer. When I taught in Maine in the 1980s, I once had a colleague from the south (South Carolina, I think) who said that Maine had a long, lovely spring but no summer. I think he may have been using the same floral markers of the seasons as you do. Tropical flowers here are iffy under the best of circumstances, and there’s no hope for them this year; my poor morning glories are looking so pathetic.

  7. July 16, 2011 12:50 pm

    Such pretty and full beds in your photos. You asked me if my peachy/yellow daylilies bloomed before the pink/lavender ones. Other than Stella, who of course starts first, the rest are all jumbled in order. They’re in such differing light conditions, though. The pink ones in full sun on a south slope start early, while the lavender ones that get just a few hours of afternoon sun bloom later (though I think the lavenders would bloom late no matter what). The peachiest ones only get half a day of sun, which must slow them down somewhat. My ‘Millie Schlumpf’ pale pink daylily was the second to start blooming after STella.

    • July 17, 2011 5:47 pm

      VW, I hadn’t thought about light conditions as an explanation for the different bloom times of daylilies. (DUH!) Almost all my pink ones are in the part-shade deck border, whereas the yellow ones are in the sunnier blue and yellow border. It will be interesting to see if the pink ones I planted in the sunny fence border bloom earlier than those in the deck border.

  8. July 16, 2011 2:27 pm

    I can see the excitement building… The warm, bright colors look like high summer to me, with the Tradescantia cooling things down for contrast. I’m enjoying seeing how quickly the seasons express themselves up there. Down here high summer seems a bit more like “low summer,” as many of our plants rest until the rains start up again. Happy belated bloomday!

    • July 17, 2011 5:50 pm

      James, The excitement definitely is blooming, and I do like the way that the colors in my garden get warmer as the temperatures do. Not all our seasons express themselves quickly. LOL; winter often seems to stick around forever, and fall can be long and lovely. But the gardening seasons of spring and summer do often feel like watching a sped-up film.

  9. Lona permalink
    July 16, 2011 3:04 pm

    Your garden looks so good. My eyes always goes right to the lilies. LOL! You have some beautiful ones in your beds. It is a wonderful time of the year in the garden.

  10. patientgardener permalink
    July 17, 2011 4:30 am

    You have lots flowering – its looks wonderful. I’m not a big fan of day lilies but I aam wondering having seen yours whether it is because the one I have isnt very good and the flower buds just seen to stay closed and go rotten. Maybe I should dig it and and get some new ones. I am told they are good under trees

    • July 17, 2011 10:41 pm

      Lona, I’m having my own private Lilyfest here :-)! I used to have some real lilies (Lilium), but now I stick to daylilies (Hemerocallis) because they are much more easy-care in my garden.

      Helen, I’ve had this problem with occasional buds on my daylily plants, but not as a regular thing; I have no idea what causes it. I have had some plants that just didn’t seem to be very vigorous and either took years to get established or have always bloomed sparsely. If you want to give these plants another chance, it might be worth getting another one from a different nursery and trying it in a different location. (On the other hand, with all the wonderful plants you can grow, it might not be worth the bother.) I’d love to grow some of those wonderful lilies you have.

  11. July 17, 2011 3:37 pm

    The garden looks beautiful – lush and blooming. Your photos do show those blooms in all their splendor. And the garden hasn’t even peaked yet! Looking forward to the photos of when it does!

  12. July 17, 2011 8:15 pm

    I really love your deck border, Jean. The Astilbe really is sweet and the tall Aruncus is outstanding. We’re getting record-setting rain here so I can’t say we’re in the throes of high summer either. And I’m beginning to wonder if we even will. But it could be worse. I’ll take this over the south’s heatwave any day. :)

    • July 18, 2011 1:20 pm

      Byddi, At this time of year, I discover a new plant each day that has just begun to bloom. Yesterday it was the daylily Mary Todd; today it was the balloon flower (Platycodon) ‘Sentimental Blue'; I think tomorrow it might be the first of my pink daylilies. I’ve started to add a second tour of the garden each day, in the afternoon or evening, so that I don’t miss anything.

      Grace, The deck border is the flower bed in my garden that comes closest to your garden palette. When I chose the initial plants, I was mostly paying attention to foliage rather than flower color; but at some point, I realized that almost everything was in shades of pink, lavender and white and decided to go with it. The one yellow flower was a ligularia. The plant never did very well, and the flowers seemed so out of place when they bloomed; so this year, I finally yanked it out of there and replaced it with the tall, barely pink Astilbe ‘Morheim’s Glory.’

  13. July 17, 2011 11:52 pm

    blog hopping & came across your blog…i host a garden party on thursday’s & would love to have you link up! xoxo, tracie

    • July 18, 2011 1:20 pm

      Tracie, Thanks for the visit and the invitation; I’ll check it out.

  14. July 18, 2011 7:56 am

    Hello Jean, Lots and lots of lovely blooms for me to admire from my wintery vantage. It is always your lovely blues and purples that catch my eye, no matter how hard I try to equally enjoy your other delicate beauties!

  15. July 18, 2011 9:36 am

    So fun to see the photos and be able to place them.

    • July 23, 2011 10:33 pm

      Carolyn, Yikes! I just found this comment (and a bunch of others) caught in the spam filter — although, for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. I felt the same way after I visited you; that I could look at the photos and place them in the garden. I may see you out at Cliff Island on the 4th; I’ll let you know for sure in a week or so.

  16. July 18, 2011 11:50 am

    Jean, your garden looks so full already I can’t imagine there’s more to come. So many lovely blooms to behold here. I like how you’ve taken a larger shot of the garden to see how the flowers combine and then a close up following so we can see the flower details. I’m doing a lot of thinking about flower combinations lately so this is quite helpful.

  17. July 18, 2011 1:31 pm

    Heidi, I like the blues and purples too, especially that blue-violet delphinium ‘Pagan Purple’. How nice that these colors work so well with my favorite yellows.

    Marguerite, I’ve been thinking about color combinations, too, as I rethink the fence border. I just bought a tall blue veronica to go in there, and I’m already imagining how its blue spires are going to look next year with deep pink flowers of Geranium endressii weaving among them. Yum.

  18. July 18, 2011 8:03 pm

    Ah…what a show! I loved my GBBD visit to your garden. I wonder if your weather is ideal for flowering and for the plants. They look so lovely.

  19. July 19, 2011 10:04 am

    Thanks for the view of all your lovely summer blooms! I am seriously thinking of taking all of my daylilies out. They are the plain orange type. This year they were pitiful. The leaves have sickly yellow stripes. I think they may have a virus, or maybe it’s old age? They have been there for over fifty years!

    • July 20, 2011 7:30 pm

      Michelle, I don’t think it’s so much that the Maine climate is ideal for flowering; it’s more that because our season is so short, lots of things bloom together that might be more spread out in a warmer climate. I admit to being enough of a “lazy” gardener that I mostly grow plants that are happy to grow in my conditions. (My big exception is the attempt to grow morning glories on my fence each summer, and it’s always iffy whether they will actually reach the point of flowering before we have frost.)

      Deb, Daylilies are one of those plants that love my growing conditions; they are almost completely trouble-free for me. In fact, I had to look up the diseases that they are susceptible to, since I’ve never encountered any of them. It turns out that problems can occur if they sit a lot with wet feet (crown rot) and if they experience sustained periods of warm, wet weather (fungal diseases). The one virtue of my sandy soil is that it is extremely well-drained; no wet feet here! And our wet weather is almost always cool and wet. We do sometimes get tropical storms here, but not until late August or September; and by that time most of the daylilies are already going dormant.

  20. July 20, 2011 3:54 pm

    Jean, we have similar weather patterns here (we are a little bit south of you). Wet spring, cool June, and now we go from overcast and 75 to what we have this week — 95 and humid. We are at least 3-4 weeks behind in some of our blooms. But I’m not complaining as I see color ahead for the dog days of August for the first time in a long time!

    Your gardens are lovely. I hope you’re not having to contend with the heat we have down here!

  21. July 20, 2011 3:57 pm

    It looks like your gardens are in step with mine! Similar blooms at same time. Im hoping I dont miss to much as I travel to Canada! My Black eyed susans’, Black night butterfly bush are just starting to go. Unfortunately I have been building a waterfall river in my “free time” after work and havent spent time in my yard in 2 weeks! :-(
    Ill be back to see your Peak Pics!!

    • July 20, 2011 7:40 pm

      Cathy, They’re promising us that those 90+ temps are going to get here tomorrow and last for the next few days. (I am practicing “Maine air conditioning” — opening up all the windows at night to cool the house down to the 60s and then closing the house up all day until the outside temp and the inside temp converge, usually around 80, in the early evening.) I agree that it’s nice being in a climate where there’s still a lot going on in the garden in August; it’s the payoff for April and May!

      Gabrielle, I hate going away from the garden at this time of year. Once I retire from teaching in a few years, I’m going to plan any extended vacations away from home for spring (going somewhere that actually has spring!) and fall. Your waterfall river sounds like a big project! I finally got out today and got to work on this year’s big project — creating a new flower bed. A lot of new flowers have opened in the 5 days since I posted this — including 3 different daylilies in the deck border that all opened their first blooms today — but I’m going to wait a few more days before I take photos and post.

  22. July 22, 2011 12:52 pm

    Hello Jean, I think this is my first visit here. Why have I missed it, I love the natural look of your garden, Your Daylilies look great. Early Spring right through till late Spring was unusually very pleasant, couldnt wait for the Summer, well talk about washout. Here in Aberdeen Scotland the daytime temperature has been above 60f on very few occasions and loads of days in the 50s.Hope it gets better and the garden like yours will show signs of high Summer in August.

    • July 23, 2011 10:36 pm

      Alistair, Thanks so much for visiting. We had that extra-cool weather in June after almost non-stop rain in May, but it has definitely warmed up in July, with record-breaking heat for the past few days. I hope you get warmer, finer weather soon.

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