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After the Peak: GBBD, August 2019

August 15, 2019

front slope mid-AugustIn mid-July, I was counting flower buds on daylily (Hemerocallis) plants and waiting eagerly for the daylily bloom to begin. A month later, the daylily bloom is past peak and I am more likely to be counting how few unopened buds are left. There are still many daylily varieties flowering, and even a few late bloomers who have not yet opened their first buds, but other varieties have now finished blooming.

Among the daylilies I am continuing to enjoy are the reds and oranges added last year when I planted the front slope.

Blue Blood mid-August SV Velvet mid-August Crown Fire

There are also yellow flowers like ‘Yellow Pinwheel’ and “Late Summer Breeze.’ ‘Late Summer Breeze’ has been hiding its flowers among the foliage of Amsonia tabernaemontana on the side slope, but its wonderful fragrance is not at all retiring.


Yellow Pinwheel 2019 Late summer Breeze hiding
The way that the delicate flowers of daylily ‘Autumn Minaret’ float high above the foliage on their thin stems always reminds me of butterflies. Autumn Minaret floating

Other plants come into their own in late summer. I have three species of Monarda in bloom. Of these, my favorite is Monarda punctata (spotted beebalm), a northeastern native that thrives in my dry, sandy soil. I love its pink bracts and the tiered flowers reminiscent of pineapple.

Monarda punctata clump Monarda punctata flowers

Liatris has just begun to bloom. Liatris spicata is blooming in both its violet and white varieties, with several more species to follow.

Liatris spicata violet Liatris spicata white

Another plant in the Asteraceae family that is going strong in the late summer garden is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). And this is also the time of year when Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ lights up the back of the blue and yellow border.

echinacea mid-August Herbstsonne mid-August

August is the season of summer phlox (Phlox paniculata). ‘Blue Paradise’ has been blooming for weeks, as has this old-fashioned pink variety. ‘Robert Poore’ and ‘Miss Pepper’ have just opened their first flowers this week, and ‘Bright Eyes’ and ‘David’ will probably follow in the next few days.

August phlox

Our exceptionally rainy weather in May and June has been followed by dry weather in July and August, and the garden is looking a bit tired and drought-stressed. Under these conditions, I find it more rewarding to focus up close rather than on wide views.

The gentle pastels of early summer have given way to the stronger colors and contrasts of the late-summer garden, and I have been especially enjoying those contrasts. In the blue and yellow border, phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ contrasts with a native goldenrod, and the yellow flowers of daylily ‘His Pastures Green’ bloom against a backdrop of blue balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus).

Blue paradise & goldenrod His Pastures & Platycodon

On the side slope, I’m enjoying the contrast between Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’ and daylily ‘Olin Criswell.’ And in the front slope garden, I like the way the sprawling flowers of poppy mallows (Callirhoe involucrata) and Coreopsis lanceolata sprawl together.

Olin Criswell & Liatris Poppy mallows & coreopsis

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another plant that is happy to grow in my dry, well-drained soil, and I love it’s bright orange flowers. There aren’t as many flowers as there might be because this plant has been doing its job of feeding monarch caterpillars, which are abundant in Maine this summer.

butterfly weed flowers butterfly weed caterpillars

house siding chrysalisI have never seen a monarch chrysalis in my garden before this year, but this is one of six now hanging from the siding on my house near a clump of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) that grows by my back door; and I counted more than a dozen caterpillars still feeding on those milkweed plants today. I wonder how many of these will also hang their jewel-like chrysalis on the side of the house?

And, with luck, new butterflies will soon emerge from those chrysalises.

nectaring monarch

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what’s blooming in other August gardens.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. janesmudgeegarden permalink
    August 16, 2019 1:06 am

    The monarch chrysalis is like a beautiful jewel. I can imagine a pair of earrings like this!

    • August 18, 2019 4:44 pm

      Jane, And they’re a good size for earrings, too! The side of my house looks be-jeweled. I see several more caterpillars on the side of the house today and am waiting to see if any of them begin to pupate there.

  2. Pat Webster permalink
    August 16, 2019 9:07 am

    I’ve never seen a monarch chrysalis before. What a beauty! And what a treat to be able to watch the process of a butterfly emerging.

    • August 18, 2019 4:47 pm

      Pat, It was after I saw one in the butterfly house at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens that I first saw them in my garden. I think you have to develop an eye for spotting them, since they are mostly the same color as the foliage they are hung from. The ones on the side of my house are great for beginners because they are so easy to see.

  3. August 16, 2019 9:54 am

    Hi Jean, i have not been blogging for sometime and i seem to read just now the things you wrote about yourself. Is that just new? If so then i am glad as i also just retired, and from a horticulturist i am now trying hard to learn more about butterflies. So i now garden for butterflies, and am also trying to document all the butterflies in and around my garden. Would you believe i already listed more than 80 species! One of the tigers we have here has a pupa very similar to that green monarch.

    • August 18, 2019 4:48 pm

      Hi Andrea, I think I rewrote the description of myself in the sidebar a few years ago, a year or two after I retired. I have been enjoying the opportunity to learn new things in the time that retirement has opened up in my life. A friend of mine who is a retired plant ecologist says that I am turning into her. 😉

  4. August 16, 2019 1:21 pm

    A monarch chrysalis – how exciting! Your garden looks like a butterfly haven, Jean. I love your late-blooming daylilies (which made me wish I had some of my own). The Monarda is wonderful too.

    • August 18, 2019 4:51 pm

      Kris, the first year I planted a lot of daylilies here, I went to a local daylily nursery after all mine had already finished blooming and bought ones that were still in bloom at the nursery. Since then, I’ve added still later ones. I had two that opened their first flowers this week and two more (very late) varieties that have just begun making flower scapes. These will bloom in September with the fall asters.

  5. August 16, 2019 5:13 pm

    What a beautiful garden. I have many of the same flowers, but my Monarda is Jacob Klein-red for attracting Hummingbirds. I also have never seen a Monarch chrysalis, but this year have a ton of Monarchs.

    • August 18, 2019 4:58 pm

      Dennis, I also have ‘Jacob Klein’ in my garden, and the hummingbirds do love it, but it’s not as happy in my sandy soil as Monarda punctata. Apparently, the monarchs are abundant everywhere this year. Last year was a good year, and the number that successfully migrated to the overwintering grounds in Mexico was the highest in twelve years. Let’s hope for the same migrating success this year and even more butterflies in our gardens next year.

      If you have butterflies in your garden, and especially if you have seen caterpillars feeding, you probably have chrysalises, but they’re hard to spot because they’re designed to be camouflaged among the foliage. I had one right beside a walkway that I passed every day on my morning walk through the garden and never once spotted until the morning that a new butterfly was hanging from the empty chrysalis case unfolding its wings. This afternoon, I saw three caterpillars pupating on the underside of daylily leaves. I’ll be able to find the chrysalises tomorrow only because I saw the caterpillars in the act and know exactly where to look for them.

      • August 18, 2019 8:04 pm

        Hi Jean, Had the most Monarchs ever this year. Not many Swallowtails. Maybe more next year.

  6. August 16, 2019 5:38 pm

    I like your pineapple flower, so much delicate architecture to enjoy.

    • August 18, 2019 4:59 pm

      Isn’t it amazing? I assume you clicked on the photo to see the larger version, where you can see all the little individual spotted flowers.

  7. August 17, 2019 5:04 pm

    Wonderful to see the chrysalis and all the monarch caterpillars.

    • August 18, 2019 5:45 pm

      Jason, It is wonderful to see this population explosion of monarchs. Are you seeing the same thing in your area?

      • August 22, 2019 10:05 am

        Not exactly, but Monarchs have had a consistent and notable presence throughout the summer. I am hearing anecdotally from a lot of people that they are seeing more Monarchs.

  8. August 18, 2019 3:09 pm

    The butterfly variety that frequents my garden is the black swallowtail with beautiful turquoise and yellow striped caterpillars. I plant extra parsley every year just to feed them. But I have never seen the chrysalis in my garden. One morning the caterpillars are long and fat and an hour later they are gone. Where do they go? When I was teaching I managed to take in some of the caterpillars and saw the chrysalis. The are a dull tan and hang from a twig when caged but I can never find them in the garden. Your monarch chrysalis is so pretty. Hopefully you will get to see the butterfly emerge.
    Jean, how do you maintain 3 different monarda? I had 2 at one point which morphed into one that was slightly different.

    • August 18, 2019 5:51 pm

      Debbie, We get a lot of tiger swallowtails here, but I’ve seldom seen any of their caterpillars — I think because they mostly feed high up in the trees. Your black swallowtail caterpillars sound beautiful. I think where they go is hiding in plain sight, with their chrysalis so well designed to be camouflaged that you can walk right by them or look right at them and not see them.

      It has been less than a year since I planted these three species of Monarda on my front slope, so they haven’t had much time yet to self-seed and hybridize. I’ve heard that red M. didyma and lavender M. fistulosa readily hybridize, often creating offspring in shades of hot pink. It will be interesting to see what happens in the years to come.

      • August 18, 2019 6:16 pm

        That matches my experience with Mondarda. I had old-fashioned red, and planted some purple. I have a medium pink,not hot. Butterflies and bees are fond of them, which in my book is what counts.
        By the way, I loved your purple liatris with the light yellow daylilies. Yellow and purple is one of my favorite floral combinations.

  9. August 18, 2019 3:46 pm

    You may be missing the mainseason daylily flush but it looks like there’s plenty more to enjoy. We’re having a good Monarch year as well. There are always a few in the garden and I’m hoping they are busy multiplying!

    • August 18, 2019 5:54 pm

      Bittster, I’ve been doing some reading about it, and the good Monarch year seems to be a widespread phenomenon. Although I always grieve the daylilies a bit as they finish up, the phlox are now coming into their own. (Several big clumps of the white variety ‘David’ just opened their first flowers today). And the asters are still to come. There should be plenty available for the butterflies to nectar on as they fuel up for the big migration to Mexico.

  10. August 19, 2019 12:39 pm

    Hello Jean, from all those pictures of your flowering plants, it doesn’t look as though your garden is fading at all. All our main flowering is now on the patio with the annuals planted in pots. The weather here has played havoc with flowering times.

    • August 20, 2019 9:16 pm

      Sunil, Spring got off to a late start here, and bloom times are still about a week behind last year. If we get an early frost, some of the autumn-blooming plants may never get to flower.

  11. August 19, 2019 6:01 pm

    Does liatris spicata grow wild there too? If so, is it either pink or white, or or they mixed with both pink and white like foxglove are? We got some last year. (It was not my idea.) I am surprised by how they regenerated this last spring, after our mild winter. Many deciduous perennials like that prefer more of a chill. I do not expect them to last for us, but would be pleased if they do.

    • August 20, 2019 9:20 pm

      Tony, Liatris spicata is native to most of the eastern United States (including the southeast), but not to northern New England. It’s wild color range seems to be from pale lavender to hot pink. So the white ones must be a cloned cultivar. Our native Maine Liatris is L. novae-angliae, but it doesn’t like the conditions in my garden. (I planted three of them three years ago, and only one is left — and it is barely hanging on.)

      • August 23, 2019 1:24 am

        I saw the white ones in a catalogue, but was not certain if it was a cultivar or naturally occurring. It does not sound like is is natural.

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