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Summer Spice: GBBD, July 2021

July 15, 2021

summer spice from aboveMy early summer garden is dominated by a sweet pastel palette in shades of pink, blue and violet. But as June turns to July, the garden mood gets spicier. Nowhere is that more true than on my sunny southwest-facing front slope, where hot colors take center stage in the summer heat.

front slope hot color daylilies July

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are the big story in my July garden. Above, you can see many of the red, orange, and purple varieties blooming on the front slope. Today, almost fifty varieties of Hemerocallis were blooming in my garden, more than half of those I grow. Five of those varieties opened their first flowers today. But, also today, the first two varieties to bloom this year, ‘Boothbay Harbor Gold’ and ‘Orange Prelude,’ opened their last flowers.

Boothbay Harbor Gold last flower Orange Prelude last flower

From here on out, as later daylily varieties come into bloom, early varieties will finish their bloom period.  We have now reached that bittersweet tipping point halfway through summer when anticipation gives way to an awareness that fall is not far away.

Spicy front slope July 2021

The hot-color daylilies on the front slope are accompanied by the strong yellows of false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) and coreopsis, the vibrant orange of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and the first of the beebalms to bloom, the vivid red Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline.’

spicy lower slope July 2021 monarda Jacob Kline

Not all the flowers in my July garden are hot and spicy. At the top of the front slope, along the patio walkway, hot pinks and purples merge into softer pinks.

Patio daylilies July 2021

Soft-color daylilies currently blooming include the peachy tones of  ‘English Cameo’ in the entrance garden and ‘Beth Barth’ in the fragrant garden, and the big spidery pastel flowers of ‘Lily Munster’ in the new front border.

soft color English Cameo soft color Beth Barth soft color Lily Munster

side slope hosta wandsAt the bottom of the side slope, an old fashioned green hosta (possibly Hosta ventricosa)  is sporting graceful wands of pale lavender flowers. This was a pass-along plant from my mother’s garden more than thirty years ago that has been divided over and over again and now provides a strong edging along the side of the driveway.

Elsewhere in the garden, a pale blue veronica and a stronger blue phlox are just beginning to bloom, other phlox varieties and several types of Liatris are sporting lots of buds, and two additional species of Monarda are about to bloom – promising many more flowers for the August garden.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is a celebration of flowers founded by Carol J. Michel at May Dreams Gardens and hosted by her on the 15th of each month. Visit her blog to link to blooms featured by gardeners from a variety of places and climates.

Welcome Rain

July 5, 2021

front slope after rain 7-5-21Vacationers who came to Maine for the long July 4th holiday weekend were probably not happy to be greeted by three days of cool, rainy weather, but Maine farmers and gardeners were thrilled. A dearth of winter snow, followed by little rain in May and June and the warmest June on record in Maine meant that we arrived at the end of June with 100% of the state abnormally dry and 70% in drought conditions.

At the Sunday Farmers’ Market, no one was complaining about the need for jackets and rain gear. I asked several farmers how much rain they had gotten, and the general consensus was about 3” (and intermittent rain continued through the day on Sunday). This was not the kind of torrential rain that sometimes interrupts a drought, running off bone-dry soil and causing erosion; this was the kind of long, steady soaking that is absorbed by the soil and that nourishes plants. And, while 3-4” of rain over three days doesn’t erase our precipitation deficit, it does take the edge off.

lavender walk 7-5-21When I walked out into my sunny garden this morning, many plants were lying prostrate under the weight of their rain-soaked foliage. But by late morning, they were picking themselves up and looking perkier than they have in weeks. Some plants, like the lavender lining the lavender walk, were  happy to bloom in hot, dry weather. Others, however, had been biding their time waiting for some moisture.

Barth large gold 2021 Harriet's Red 2021

Daylilies (Hemerocallis), especially, responded to rain with blooms. While the first daylily flowers opened earlier this year (June 23rd) than ever before, only five varieties had begun to bloom before the rain arrived. Today that number had risen to fifteen varieties. As daylily season gets underway, the soft pinks, blues and violets of the garden in May and June, are giving way to the strong oranges, reds, and yellows of summer.

front slope oranges 7-5-21

A Wonderful Time of the Year: GBBD, June 2021

June 16, 2021

patio garden june 2021Mid-June is a wonderful time of year in my Maine garden. The area around the patio is looking (and smelling) particularly lovely this year; in an unusually warm late spring and early summer, peonies have bloomed early and all my rose buds popped open at once. The view from the patio back toward the entrance to the house isn’t too shabby, either.

walkway from patio june 2021

On the other side of the patio, the plants along the Lavender Walk are full of buds just about to open.

lavender walk buds lavender buds

violet siberian irisThe display of Siberian irises in my garden has been disappointing this year. An on-going drought reduced iris blooms in both size and quantity, and early heat meant that they didn’t last as long as they normally would. When this clump of self-sown irises popped up in the Deck Border, the wrong color for a flower bed that had been designed in shades of pink and white, my original plan was to remove them and replace them with a division of the Siberian iris ‘Hubbard’ given to me by a friend. But this year, I realized that I find the violet color of these flowers enchanting. I’ll leave them where they planted themselves and plant ‘Hubbard’ behind them, in place of the self-sown spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) that has been spreading too aggressively and crowding out other plants.

I generally welcome Tradescantia virginiana and grow these plants in many parts of the garden. This clump by the back door includes the variety ‘Osprey,’ which I’m particularly fond of.

back door tradescantia osprey june 2021

I happily tolerate the self-sowing tendencies of the spiderwort because I find them such beautiful additions to my garden. When they pop up in unwanted places, front slope magenta comboI usually wait until they bloom before I decide whether to transplant them to a better location or just compost them. I’m currently enjoying one of those transplanted volunteers as it blooms with Geranium sanguineum in this vibrant magenta combination on the front slope.

Another hardy geranium, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,’ is now blooming in many parts of my garden. I often use this fast-spreading groundcover at the edges of flower beds, as in the deck border, where it borders the walkway, and along the edge of the driveway at the bottom of the side slope.

biokovo back walkway biokovo side slope

Near the top of the side slope, the flowers of Amsonia tabernaemontana and Baptisia x ‘Purple Smoke’ are almost finished blooming,

amsonia fading baptisia purple smoke 2021
but Spiraea japonica ‘Magic Carpet’ is just opening its first flowers. magic carpet opening

In the Serenity Garden, goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) and bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata) are blooming. And in parts of the garden where I have encouraged wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) to spread as a groundcover, the flowers of May have given way to the jewel-like (and delicious!) fruits of June.

serenity garden goatsbeard & gillenia ripe strawberries 2021

front border 1st year june

I’m feeling quite pleased with how the new front border is looking in its first year. Some plants (for example, peonies and most of the Siberian irises) responded to being transplanted in fall by not blooming this spring. Other plants, however, have not missed a beat. globemaster allium display 2021The big purple balls of Allium x ‘Globemaster’ are putting on quite a spectacular display at the turn into the driveway. Along the front of the border, Geranium x cantabrigiense and Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) are blooming happily, and plants of Geranium x oxonianum and Tradescantia virginiana ‘Danielle’ have responded enthusiastically to being divided.

front border geranium oxonianum tradescantia danielle 2021

One of the things that makes June such a wonderful time of the garden year is that there is so much to enjoy and so much more still to come. The garden season has just begun and won’t reach its peak here until late July.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is being hosted this month and every month by Carol Michel at May Dream’s Gardens. Visit her site to see her June flowers and those of many other gardeners.

The Spring-to-Summer Speed-Up

June 4, 2021

patio walkway early JuneA fellow garden blogger once described my Maine style of gardening as “gardening in the fast lane.” By that, he meant that long after his more temperate English garden has come to life, mine is still sleeping under its blanket of snow. But then, in late spring and early summer, things happen fast in my garden. By mid-summer, my blooms have caught up with his and then speed past them as my plants prepare for the arrival of our much earlier winter.

The transition from May to June is also the transition from late spring to early summer in my garden. And with that transition, the speed-up has begun.  At this time of year, each day’s walk through the garden is a journey of discovery as I find more and more plants beginning to bloom.

back slope rhododendron 2021The big rhododendron on the back slope that is in its glory in late spring is starting to fade, but Rhododendron catawbiense ‘Album’ in the back garden, which hasn’t bloomed in years, is gracing the garden with flowers this year. Don Ouellette Memorial Blossom

geranium biokovo 2021Throughout the garden, various species of hardy geraniums are blooming. These include Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,’ whose frothy early summer flowers border walkways and paths in many parts of the garden. These flowers will come and go, but longer blooming varieties, like the pink Geranium x oxonianum and the blue Geranium x ‘Brookside’ have also begun to bloom.

geranium oxonianum 2021 brookside first flower 2021

lupine with companionsOn the front slope, the fading late spring flowers of our native sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis) and moss phlox (Phlox subulata) are now accompanied by the magenta summer flowers of Phlox sanguineum and Tradescantia virginiana.

Other early summer flowers that have begun to bloom include Amsonia and Baptisia.

amsonia & baptisia

back door iris & tradescantia By the back door, spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is blooming with Siberian irises.

creeping thyme flowersCreeping thyme has begun to bloom on top of the retaining wall by the patio. Below the wall, the red flowers of Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ are about to be joined by the intense magenta flowers of rose ‘Hansa.’

Weigela and Hansa

In the Fragrant Garden, rose ‘Therese Bugnet’ is blooming, and the peonies have even begun to open (the earliest I have ever known peonies to bloom here.)

Therese Bugnet 2021 1st peony 2021

new front border june 2021

Globemaster opening 2021The new front border is coming into its own, with a wonderful display of Allium ‘Globemaster’ by the turn into the driveway. At the other end of the border, the beautiful flowers of Siberian iris ‘Hubbard’ are blooming.

Iris Hubbard flower

And all this floral bounty is just the beginning; there is so much more still to come!