Peony bouquet


It’s as true here as in any other place- there’s no time like June in the garden. Perennials have grown up and filled their beds with lush fresh green and there is a general underlying feeling of excitement and growth. Peonies and siberian iris are popping everywhere , complemented by hundreds of varieties of all things plant. But still , a subconscious sense of order prevails. Shaded areas revel in their brief last month of bloom. As the view fills in, garden rooms come into their own and one can no longer see from one to the other. The structural frames stays the same, but every week the flowering pictures change. Conifers, urns and garden art help raise the eye from the somewhat consistent mid-level of growth which is eventually punctuated by the staccato verticals of alliums, clematis and flowering trees.

The heat blasts of July see the eye rise even higher with bursts of lilies, ornamental grasses, taller perennials and flowering shrubs and vines. The plant auditorium is fuller and louder, a sold-out crowd with no empty seats. By August, the heat is taking its toll and the crowds are getting somewhat rowdy. On the sunken paths, it’s a bit up close and personal, but then again, there’s never a dull moment!


The Terrible Hot Humid Days of Late Summer or
Welcome to the JONNgul!!

One of my gardening idols, the amazing Pam Frost of Vancouver B.C., whose English style borders are surely some of the best in the world, has an expression for this time in the garden. It is “blousey”. I couldn’t agree with her more. She hates this time so much that she forbids garden visitors or tours during August. I can sympathize with her feeling but we are much more ‘warts and all’ garden sharers.

Nevertheless, from my hermitted AC window, I can see the jungle and the many plants that have come to resemble “The Plant That Ate Chicago” (a tip of the hat to Bill Cosby and his “Chicken Heart” from my childhood.)

On the unfortunately rare occasion when the temperatures drop below scalding or it rains (in August? Not.) here’s what I see:


Clematis: we grow about 35 varieties. I am particularly fond of the small bell shaped flowers of clem. tangutica and viticella, particularly the deep saturated wine of Gravetye Beauty and the longest blooming deep two tone pink of Princess Diana.

They are rambling over obelisks, conifers, barberries, and perennials. After the agony of their 2-4 years of settling in, it is a great joy to see them so floriferous.

Of our 7 varieties of lonicera, Heckrottii is still blaring away with its pink and apricot trumpets.This year our most exciting new vine is a variegated lonicera (not the also beloved pale yellow one w/ fine green veining) whose boldly variegated gold and green leaves exactly resemble those of Hydrangea vine Miranda. The Blue Sky passion flowers are happily covering the entry arbor.


Rudbeckias- a great new introduction this year( such a relief from the usual gaudy but still useful taxi yellow), is Cherry Brandy , a handsome two tone dark red with black cone center. Also Blue Lobelia, Eupatorium Gateway and Little Joe, Kirengeshoma, Monarda Mahogany,Echinacea, Nepeta Siberica,Spigellia Marylandica, Boehmeria varieg,Miscanthus Silene (my fav. of the pink plumers) , Pennisetum Rubrum, Gaura, Platycodon, Aconitum, Veronicastrum,Persicaria Taurus and Golden Arrow, Agastache Black Adder and Limerock ,Phlox (at last) , and, of course, the longest blooming perennials here- Geranium Rozanne/Jolly Bee and Corydalis Lutea. Various variegated and golden leaved Tricyrtis – have just begun, and my #1 perennial plant, Persicaria Lance Corporal, is just about to burst forth with his great long dark pink pokers. Our 30 + daylily varieties are near finishing, as are the various Ligularia and Filipendula. The very tall Fallopia variegata and Persicaria polymorpha continue their eye catching partnership with the other giants- Heliopsis Lemon Queen, Eupatorium Gateway , Heliopsis Prairie Sunset, and Rudbeckia Herbstsonne.


So many hydrangeas! Quick Fire is a nice new addition. Our favorite quercifolia, the double flowered Snowflake, is just ending its white phase and heading toward rose . The large but dainty bright white flowers of Hydr.Kyushu- are a welcome relief in their many surroundings of green. Pink Clethra and Hibiscus Blue Bird partner well with various golden conifers.


Its large dusky purple cones cause Abies Koreana Aurea to draw comment more than any other of our many conifers.

Robinia Frisia is all shocking golden glory, followed by Acers Negundo Kelly’s Gold and Winter Lightning, Ptelia and a fastigiate golden beech. Heptacodium are budded up and waiting to burst pink in September. We have added 6 new Japanese Maples to our collection of now-45 varieties.

The gardens are at their fullest and tallest; the garden rooms their most hidden.

“Blousy” is the operative adjective now but “Welcome” is still the operative expression!

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