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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Blooms in the Rain

The dog days of summer can be very uncomfortable here in Hampton Roads. This is the time of year when the days get hot, humid and dry except for the occasional late afternoon thunderstorm. While the hot and humid part has remained consistent with the season, the weather here has been anything but dry. August has been a very wet month here thus far. As a matter of fact, I had to slip out between rain showers to snap the photos of this months bloom day. I'm not complaining however, any time spent taking photos in the garden is time well spent.

My landscape drains very well so the extra rain lately hasn't been a problem. It's actually been a blessing to my young, first year trees and shrubs planted throughout my landscape. The first year can be the most critical for any perennial type plant. Rain now will help the roots of these young plants become better established before dormancy sets in.

With that said, lets start with this months lineup -

First off is a knockout - a knockout rose that is. These roses live up to their name - requiring very little care. Keep them cut back and deadheaded and they will bloom all season long. Just be sure to keep the Japanese beetles off them.

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Another pink bloomer is the 'Carolina Beauty' crepe myrtle tree. I have four of these trees planted in my front yard along the edge of the road. It's another carefree low-maintenance plant.

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Here is a new addition to my landscape - 'Blue Fortune' Hyssop (Agastache 'Blue Fortune'). It has fragrant blooms and can be used as cut flowers. There are many different varieties of hyssops that come in many different colors and shapes. They are a great plant for attracting pollinators to the garden. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds alike are attracted to this plant.

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What can you say about 'Miss Huff' Lantana? This plant will begin blooming in late spring and will keep right on until the years first frost. It's a low maintenance plant and is drought tolerant once established. If you like butterflies and only have room for one plant - this is the plant for you! In most southern states 'Miss Huff' will come back year after year. In other areas its sold as an annual.

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...and here is it's little cousin - 'New Gold' Lantana. It's smaller than 'Miss Huff' but blooms just as well with bright yellow flowers all season.

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One of my new favorites is the Chinese Abelia. It's another butterfly magnet. This shrub reaches 6 to 8 feet tall with branches sticking out in all directions. As the summer wears on, plants produce massive terminal clusters of white, bell- shaped flowers. Look closely into the photo below and you will see a hummingbird clearwing moth hovering over one of the flower clusters.IMG_4263

Another hummingbird clearwing on the Chinese abelia.

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Next is a 'Fan Scarlet' Lobelia (Lobelia speciosa). This is a new perennial I planted this summer. Seems to be doing well. It has showy flower spikes that bloom throughout most of the summer. It also attracts hummingbirds.

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Another reliable summer bloomer is the coral honeysuckle. This is by far a favorite of the hummingbirds. I have it growing up one of the post attached to my deck. Look closely and you can see a hummingbird resting on one of the limbs in the center of the photo.

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And as a bonus, red berries develop in late summer through fall on this honeysuckle.IMG_4614

A new addition to the landscape this spring is the Harlequin Glorybower (Clerodendrum trichotomum). This shrub/small tree offers a late-summer display of jasmine-like white flowers. Bright blue berries in autumn are accented by conspicuous bright, pinkish-red calyxes. These flowers have a nice scent and it's another plant that the butterflies and hummingbirds like.

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Here's a close-up of the harlequin glorybower bloom.

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A plant that's often overlooked is the marigold. Marigolds are easy, dependable and they bloom all season. Who could ask for more? I plant these plants along the edges of my vegetable garden because of their reputation for repelling certain harmful insects, and attracting beneficial ones.

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Last but not least is my caladium plants. Not exactly a bloom but their foliage color is just as attractive. I have these mixed in with a few coleus plants to add some extra contrast. These plants are great for adding some color to shady spots in the garden. This is the first year I have grown caladium and was wondering if I could dig up the bulbs in the fall and replant them next year. I'm thinking you can but wasn't sure if there was some special requirement for storing them. If anyone knows for sure just let me know in my comments. I would like to plant some of these in pots next spring.

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TIP: To help keep color in the garden year around I've learned by visiting local garden centers throughout the year helps keep me informed and provides a good indication as to what's blooming during that time of year.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour through my garden. Be sure to check out more flowers in bloom over at May Dreams Gardens blog - there's lots of good stuff to to see there!

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11 comments:

Les said...

I guess no one around here has had to pull out the hoses recently. I am glad to see your Abelia has not disappointed. Happy GBBD!

Janet said...

Hi Alan, great shot of the hummingbird on the honeysuckle!

NellJean said...

All your photos are superb.

As to Caladiums, I used to dig mine and store them in an old Coleman cooler in layers of newspaper. They did quite well, until I got the notion that at least some of them will come back here close to Florida. Now they're live and let die and some come back. They would be much better, dug and stored.

The real trick is to wait until June to plant caladiums out, when the soil is truly warm. I experimented with starting some in pots. They did no better than the ones in soil, waiting for that trigger that only they know.

healingmagichands said...

You are so lucky that lantana is a perennial for you. We have to treat it like an annual, so I don't have any because I severely limit my annual purchases. But it is a great flower.

I love all the wildlife that is showing up in your pictures.

I believe that if you dig your caladiums after they die back in the fall, you should remove any foliage or stems from the bulbs, and knock off the extra dirt. You don't need to wash them. Then store them in a paper bag someplace dark and cool and slightly humid. You can put them in the back of your refrigerator if it isn't a frost free type. The frost free refrigerators dehumidify themselves too much for bulb storage, unless you have room in a crisper.

Kelly said...

I always like looking at roses after a rain...they are so beautiful! I like you little hummingbird clearwings...and your real hummingbird too!

Darla said...

Great color around your home!! Wonderful photos and love the hummer!!!

Teresa said...

Lantana is a great plant. I like the colors of yours. That photo of the hummingbird is great! Lucky to catch one at rest. All your flowers are so beautiful~ Thanks for showing them.

Alan said...

Thanks for the kind comments everyone...

Les, yes very pleased with the performance of my Abelia. I was glad to see it bloom so well it's first spring in my yard.

Thanks Janet!

NellJean & healingmagichands,
Thanks for stopping by & thanks for answered my question on caladiums!

Kelly, Darla & Teresa, thanks for your complements!

dAwN said...

Alan, your summer blooms are beautiful..all the more special in the rain.
The captures of the hummer and clearwing are great!
Its so nice to see that you are planting things that attract wildlife!

Jack said...

AMAZING shots..Thats really very well done..keep going it..Wonderful photos and love the hummer!!
--
Jack
Wireless Home Alarm Security Systems

Scotkat said...

A pleasure to see your roses after the rain while I wait a few months for mine to bloom.