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Peak Bloom in My Maine Garden

July 25, 2011

The back garden at peak (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) In many parts of the United States (especially in this year’s extreme weather), gardens are already looking worn and blowsy by late July. In Maine, however, where spring comes on in fits and starts and isn’t firmly established until the end of April, the garden begins a crescendo of bloom in late May or early June that usually peaks in the second half of July.

When I reviewed my garden for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day earlier this month (see Approaching High Summer), I noted that while high summer was approaching in my Maine garden, it hadn’t yet arrived. In the ten days since, a lot has happened. Among the plants that have begun to bloom in that short time are more than a dozen varieties of daylilies (Hemerocallis), three varieties of balloon flower (Platycodon), Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam,’ Veronica longifolia ‘Blue Giant,’ Monarda (beebalm), three additional varieties of hosta with delicate striped flowers, a purple delphinium, the first of the monkshood (Aconitum henryi sparks), and the first flowers of Phlox paniculata (‘Blue Paradise’).

Daylilies have moved to center stage in the back garden, with eight different varieties blooming in the Platycodon and hostas blooming on the back slope in late July (photo credit:Jean Potuchek)blue and yellow border, four varieties in the deck border, and two varieties in the fence border – and with more yet to come.

On the back slope, tall stems of Platycodon combine with the graceful swaying wands of an old-fashioned green hosta.

Even in this summer, when many plants are suffering from lack of rain, a Maine garden is still an amazing place to be in late July. When I did my weekly garden inventory yesterday, I counted more than 75 separate species/varieties of flowers in bloom!

Below are just some of those that have begun to flower since bloom day:

Left side from top left: Oregano vulgaris, Hemerocallis 'Colorplate,' Hemerocallis 'Mary Todd,' Platycodon 'Shell Pink,' Hemerocallis 'Cathedral Bells,' Monarda 'Coral Reef.' Middle from top: Platycodon mariesii, unknown double daylily, striped flower of Hosta 'Lunar Orbit.' Right from top: Hemerocallis 'Pequot,' Hemerocallis 'Buried Treasure,' Delphinium 'Surprise,' and Hemerocallis 'Silver Ice.' (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)

32 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2011 6:24 am

    How wonderful your garden is….I love all the flowers you have, but to see a delph in July..ohhh….what I would love to see a lush garden this year…we should but little rain this year…

  2. July 26, 2011 6:31 am

    Feeling envious…. enjoy, Jean!

    • July 29, 2011 10:39 pm

      Donna, We’ve also suffered from the lack of rain this summer (although no one would have predicted it when it rained for most of May!). The garden was saved by the fact that we had little of the heat that plagued so much of the northeast and midwest. The delphiniums didn’t do very well this year, so it has been nice to have this one looking so fine.

      Jack, I am enjoying! And I can envy all your blooms in January when my garden is under snow.

  3. July 26, 2011 12:01 pm

    Oh-la-la! 75 blooming varieties? Incredible! Several weeks ago, I counted 45 in my garden. Need to go check again, but I don’t think I can get 75!
    Jean, some of my lilies and daylilies have buds which don’t ever open, they are kind of empty. Do you have any ideas why?

    • July 29, 2011 11:13 pm

      Tatyana, More than 30 of those 75 are different daylily cultivars. I’ve never had the problem you describe with any of my daylilies, but it reminded me of what happens to my Siberian irises when they fall victim to the iris budfly. So that made me wonder if some kind of insect pest might be attacking your daylilies. I did a little research on daylily pests, and one possibility is flower thripps. (I couldn’t find anything similar that might attack lilies, though.)

  4. July 26, 2011 1:05 pm

    Wow, look at all those cheerful blooms. Isn’t it a fun challenge to try to keep something blooming all through the gardening season?

  5. July 26, 2011 1:58 pm

    I love collages. Your garden is a delight, and I share your delight in it!

  6. July 26, 2011 7:49 pm

    Now I really want to be in Maine … Still have a month to wait, though. Beautiful flowers!

    • July 30, 2011 10:07 pm

      VW, June, July and August aren’t much of a challenge for blooms here. Although August doesn’t have the same volume of blooms as July, some of my favorites, like liatris, rudbeckia herbstsonne and phlox paniculata bloom then. In recent years, I have been working on having more that keeps blooming into September, and the new serenity garden is going to include some bulbs and hellebores that are likely to begin blooming in April.

      Diana, Like you, I enjoy doing the collages.

      Sheila, I hope there are still lovely flowers in bloom to greet you when you arrive in late August.

  7. July 26, 2011 11:45 pm

    Very nice garden. I like the dense low growing shrubs in the first photograph that softens the edge of the pathway, very flowy and clean! Hostas are of course always wonderful too (-;

    • July 30, 2011 10:18 pm

      J, The low-growing plant at the edge of the pathway is actually a perennial geranium — Geranium x cantabrigiense. It’s a groundcover-type geranium that spreads out in all directions by shallow roots and about doubles in size each year. The variety I have growing here, ‘Biokovo,’ is covered with masses of pink-tinged flowers in late spring/early summer. The rest of the time, the foliage provides a neat, but soft edge. It’s spreading tendency is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is really easy to take divisions and spread it around, but it is a plant that needs to be thinned out regularly if you don’t want it to take over the whole garden.

  8. July 26, 2011 11:49 pm

    Jean, everything looks absolutely lovely, and your enjoyment is contagious. You have a wonderful eye for shades of color!

    • July 30, 2011 10:29 pm

      Thanks, Stacy. I’ve always had a strong sense of color. It was years before I discovered that not everyone sorts their laundry to make pleasing color combinations when it hangs on the line! 😉

  9. July 27, 2011 12:37 am

    I know what you mean, Jean. My garden is the same way, although I have a measly 5 varieties of Daylily. 🙂 Love your photos.

    • July 30, 2011 10:34 pm

      Grace, I don’t know what I would do without daylilies; they are perfect for my sandy soil growing conditions. I can’t grow some of the evergreen varieties that you grow; but that’s okay — there are still thousands of named cultivars left! One of the things that fascinates me about daylilies is that they grow in such a wide variety of conditions, but also have such strong regional emphases. For example, daylilies from the Barth and McEwen collections (both Maine hybridizers) are very popular around here, but not available at all from my favorite daylily nursery in Pennsylvania, which features a very different set of cultivars.

  10. July 27, 2011 10:36 am

    The colors are marvelous!

  11. July 27, 2011 4:04 pm

    What a lot has happened – you must have been waving a magic wand! Gorgeous…

    • July 30, 2011 10:37 pm

      Thanks, Jayne.

      Kate, It is amazing how fast things happen in the July garden. Daylilies are finally starting to slow down (many of the early ones opened their last flowers this week), but other late summer flowers are just beginning to bloom. Mother Nature gets the credit for waving the magic wand.

  12. July 27, 2011 7:40 pm

    Jean, at this time of year it really is good to be in a more northern location isn’t it? Even the heat is so much more bearable. Love the collage of blooms from your garden. It really is bursting with life right now.

    • July 30, 2011 10:38 pm

      Marguerite, There used to be t-shirts for sale in Maine that said, ‘If you can’t take the winter, you don’t deserve the summer.’ I think the amazing lush flowering of the cold-climate garden in summer is the payoff for the relatively short growing season.

  13. July 27, 2011 9:20 pm

    Wow, 75 separate species/varieties! Sounds like a fun thing to do–I’ll have to take a count in my gardens. Beautiful collage.

  14. July 27, 2011 10:50 pm

    That is a lot of different types of flowers blooming at once. Summer flowers have been late starting here, I just picked a bouquet of Sweet Peas today so that made the cool wet summer worth it. You have some very pretty Daylilies in your garden. I just started adding them last year and can see why so many gardeners love them. Such a pretty flower to have start blooming mid summer.

    • August 1, 2011 8:58 am

      Aerie-el, You might be surprised by how many different plants you have if you take a count! I have so many in part because I indulge my plant collector tendencies by planting “drifts” of different varieties of the same plant.

      Catherine, Sweet Peas at the end of July! I’m not the first person to fall in love with daylilies. It will be interesting to see whether you succumb to their charms now that you’ve added some to your garden.

  15. Nell Jean permalink
    July 28, 2011 12:55 pm

    High summer is different for you than me. Things look wonderful there. We’re depending on tropicals to carry us to fall.

    Your daylilies look luscious. We are seeing some rebloomers. I must have a hundred pictures of Brocaded Gown, single bloom of the day.

    • August 1, 2011 8:34 pm

      Nell, My daylilies are starting to wind down; many of the early ones have finished blooming, and my rebloomers are taking a rest. (Sometimes they make new flower scapes before the first set have finished blooming, but I think it’s been too dry for that this year.)

      I have a daylily called Ivory Gown in my Gettysburg garden; I wonder if it is a relative of Brocaded Gown?

  16. July 28, 2011 9:28 pm

    It is amazing how many flowers are in bloom in our Maine gardens right now. My monkshood are just starting to show a little color and will probably start to open tomorrow. The first heirloom tomato was picked today, more to follow. I wish gardeners weren’t suffering so bad in other parts of the country. The lack of rain and the terrible heat has been so bad this year for so many.

    • August 1, 2011 8:37 pm

      Karen, I know. Even though July was dry and my garden has suffered a bit, we are so well off compared to most of the rest of the country! I especially love these summer mornings with temperatures in the 50s.

      Maybe I’ll get heirloom tomatoes in my CSA share tomorrow.

  17. July 28, 2011 9:45 pm

    Wow…75 varieties in bloom…that is amazing! I have not stopped to count, but I don’t think I have that many. Your blooms are gorgeous!

    • August 1, 2011 8:40 pm

      Michelle, LOL, I think my OCD tendencies are showing. A few years ago, I heard an interview on NPR with a singer-songwriter who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He had written a song about the experience of living with OCD called “Always Counting.” I experienced a moment of self-recognition with he sang it. The fact that you have never stopped to count your blooms is probably a sign of sanity on your part. 🙂

  18. July 29, 2011 9:14 pm

    Wow! Your garden is luscious! It must be wonderful to wander about your garden. Your flower collage is a delight.

  19. July 30, 2011 11:22 am

    We must have a similar climate, since my garden also reached High Summer this week. I have never thought of counting blooming varieties, what a great idea. Your collage is so pretty, a colour palette to be proud of. 🙂

    • August 1, 2011 8:44 pm

      Deb, I do love wandering around in the garden at this time of year. The blackflies are gone, the mosquitoes are calming down, and the weather is warm, but pleasant (unlike the horrific heat that so much of the country is dealing with). Many people consider August the best part of the Maine summer.

      Rebecca, I’ve always had a sense of similarities in our climates, our gardens and our gardening journeys. Re the counting: see my response to Sage Butterfly above.

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