One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Archive for the ‘cosmos’ Category

Garden Report at July’s End

Already its the last minutes of the last day of July.  How swiftly this warm and wonderful month slips by.

Thanks to a regular routine of watering and deadheading, the pansies are blooming nicely despite the heat we’ve had this month.

This purple blossom with the white and blue streaks in it is a particular favorite (Heh.  Just like every other flower I’ve ever seen.).  I’m always keen on pansies with these dark “facial” markings on them.  They are such pretty little things, and so hearty, too.

Not far from the hanging pansy basket is one of my mixed windowbox planters, the one with the marine heliotrope.   Among the seeds sown in there were some zinnias.

Sadly, not as many germinated as I might’ve hoped, but there are three or four, and this first pink one has been a slow-motion firework over the past week.   I love the tiny little flowers in the center of the larger array.

As the month has progressed, the petunias is this “patriotic” planter have gotten happily out of control.   I think it’s funny how the purple and white ones looks pretty uniform here, but they really have shown a great deal of variety in their coloring, which keeps things interesting.

Surprises in the deck garden plantings continue to be a theme this summer, even in that planter.   About a week ago, a couple of plants of blue lobelia have revealed themselves in various pots.   I am usually very fond of the plant, so I’ve used it the past several years in a row.  This year, I never got around to purchasing any, so it was quite a happy surprise when they started their show.

You can see in the group shot up above that the nasturtiums are continuing to bloom well, their plants filling in around the base of my oldest dracaena “palm”.  I like the variety of colors, but the dark reds are especially fun, somehow.   Such a nice rich tone.

Another pot of nasturtiums and asparagus fern (there were supposed to be some four o’clocks, but I must’ve gotten a bad pack of seed, as not one of them has come to the party) hosted a big reveal this week, when it became obvious that one of the other things that was growing in that pot was a tomatilla plant, with a single fruit.   This is fun, since it’s been two summers since I grew these.

Below is a magnolia seedling, which my Granny sent me through the mail.   I should’ve tried for a better photo of this – and I certainly will next time (it’s hard to see clearly against the background of other greens) – but there are three really terrific looking buds on this.   I have a feeling it will try to bloom next week, while I’m away on vacation.  The poker lilies appear to have the same plan.

That seems about right.   Hopefully, they’ll still be doing their thing when I get home.

After what’s been a very dry month, we’ve finally had some rain.  At first it was a couple mild showers, nothing more than teasers, really.   The kind of passing splash that creates the illusion that watering isn’t necessary by wetting everything.  Only a closer look reveals the truth.

Now we’ve had some more.  The end of the afternoon brought showers, that grew heavier over the course of an hour or so, until finally it was a downpour that lasted most of the evening.  Certainly, it was a good start on catching up on what we were missing.  I’ll probably have to drain excess out of plant pots tomorrow morning, in an ironic twist on almost every other morning this past month.

In the past couple days, as foreshadowing of the fun in the sun August will bring, this yellow flower has appeared from one of the plants Laura brought me at Spring’s end.

I think this is a helianthus, or perhaps a heliopsis.   Obviously I’m not entirely sure on that.  I’ll have to do some more research.   I do know it’s beautiful and will be a great addition to the yard, filling some empty bloom time in between the daisies and chrysanthemums.

The morning glories are blooming every morning.  So far, it’s only the Grandpa Ott variety doing so, but I can see other varieties twining and vining about (I do think it’s the G.O.’s which I continue to find more seedlings of in all my other pots – they really may be trying to take over the world, and I say let them.), so I imagine the second half of the season will have all kinds of wonders to wake up to each day.


Lily Weekend

The Casa Blanca lilies are having a banner year.

They’ve been in residence here as long as I and this year are showing all the signs of well-established bulbs.   Each of the two plants have strong healthy stems – about four foot tall – and nice big flower buds.    Most exciting, perhaps, is that this year, the destructive and annoying red lily leaf beetle is nowhere to be seen.   They have deviled these plants mightily for their whole tenancy, so it’s remarkable that they are absent this year.

I’m not sure to what to credit the little bastards’ exodus – I’d recommend it to the rest of you in a heartbeat if I understood the Why.  But rather than worry the issue too much, I’ll just accept their absence gleefully and move on.

The blooming of the Casa Blancas is always a little bittersweet.   They’re wonderful blooms open just when the flowering season seems to flag a little at summer’s halfway point, and they arrival certainly herald July’s end (although in previous years, I have known the species to bloom a week or so later).   Their fragrance is not especially strong yet, but I expect good things now that we’ve had some more rain to encourage them just last night.

Like many places this year, we are experiencing some drought-y conditions, as you can see by the straw-brown lawn in the background.   We’ve been conservative in watering the gardens, too (I plan for the upcoming renovation of garden beds will include the installation of soaker hoses for increased efficiency in watering.), so bloom times have been shorter than usual for some things.   These lilies, however, have taken all that in stride, a clear sign they are happy with their place.

I know some consider them weeds, and I’ll concede they are a little too “eager”/aggressive sometimes, but the Queen Anne’s Lace I’ve introduced into a few of our beds is taking the drought in stride, as well.   That’s one of the benefits of using a plant you know already thrives in the area – they are generally good about adapting to changing circumstances.  And of course, nothing stops these orange daylilies!

These rose bushes in the front yard are old and well-established, but the dry conditions have their impact there, as well.  I’m sure these roses will be very happy with the new adjacent garden and its efficient water delivery.

Meanwhile, in the backyard, the QAL is joined by some unstoppable cosmos and tickseed coreopsis to make a show with whatever water we and/or Nature may provide.

Here’s some hydragea porn for my lovely pal, Java, who is a big fan of them and might welcome a pretty picture or two to distract her from her recent foray into the world of stunt-driving.   We always make sure these guys have plenty of water, since they look so sad when they haven’t had any.

The Rose of Sharon is quite hearty, though, and seems to do just fine, regardless.

I’m happy to say we had some serious rain last evening, a nice soaking storm that lasted a couple of hours.

It was a good start on making up for all we have missed so far this otherwise-delightful summer, but we could use some more, to help spread that slight flush of green that’s suddenly reappeared in the lawn.   Between midnight and six is the preferred time, of course, though I don’t think we can be especially fussy about that anymore.

It sure is nice to look outside and see how happy our green friends are today.

And Rain Will Make the Flowers Grow

Yesterday was one of those rare mornings this summer, when I knew I could sleep in a few minutes longer.   The sky was dull with clouds, moisture hung heavy in the air and distant rumbles of thunder punctuated the quiet encouragement by John Cougar Mellowcat to Rise and Feed.

We haven’t had much rain this summer.   You can see it in the wilty gardens and brown lawns.   It’s been hard to keep up with watering.   On the deck its all done by hand with the elephant watering can, so it’s usually a 20 minute exercise.   Of course the rewards are obvious, so I don’t mind doing it.

Ah, but how I love those rare sweet moments when I can snuggle in for a few extra minutes.   Despite that, I’ve learned not to be trusting of a forecast that describes a full day of rain and so I was watering the cucumbers and morning glories (the thirstiest of this summer’s gang, it seems) as the morning’s light showers tapered off.

Good thing I did, too, as it turned out to be almost as sunny a day as it was rainy, with small storms criss-crossing the Cape throughout the day.   In this morning’s sunshine, I’m back to the full watering routine, but it was nice to have a few minutes off yesteday.