Thursday, August 25, 2011

(Belated) Wildflower Wednesday: Why a Rain Garden is Great

A lot of native wildflowers are in bloom here, which is a welcome change from some years where this time of summer is rather dull.

Tall coreopsis (C. tripteris) is finally blooming (a little later than usual)...

...this 2-year-seedling Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is looking good (unfortunately its parent plant is having a tough go of things this year)...

...'Blue Fortune' agastaches are blooming profusely...

...and the big-leaved asters (Eurybia macrophylla) have been putting on a show for a few weeks now. These are always the first asters to bloom, well ahead of the traditional flowering time we associate with asters.

But the wildflower stars right now are undoubtedly the blooming rain garden plants, cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) and obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).

Despite a brief period of drought, the rain garden plants have shown their resiliency. We've had periodic torrential downpours, and the extensive root systems of these forbs and sedges are clearly holding, or at least reaching, this moisture well after the rains have passed.

Even a new blue lobelia (L. siphilitica) is blooming (which is good since the blue lobelia in my front garden is really suffering, I think from being physically pounded by flooding rains multiple times).

I haven't witnessed any hummingbirds at the cardinal flowers this year, but that'll happen when you're gone all day five days a week. I like to think that in my absence that hummingbird I saw last year (and maybe its friends) are nectaring at the beautiful red blooms!

I may be a little tardy with this post, but I didn't want to miss Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August Bloom Day

Can you believe it's the middle of August already?! Neither can I, but I'm pleased that I can share many blooms at this point of the year, when often my garden is past its prime.

Maybe it was the weird weather earlier this season, with a slow start to summer, but the Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is just now reaching its peak.

The 'David' phloxes and hyssops (Agastache foeniculum) are also in full glory in my front border.

In the rain garden, the cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) and obedient plants (Physostegia virginiana) are making an interesting color combo.

Normally I'm not the biggest fan of reds and pinks together, but honestly I don't mind it here in this naturalistic-style planting.

My fears about the yellow coneflowers out-competing the nodding wild onion were clearly unfounded: the Allium cernuum is doing just fine!

The first asters blooming here are the big-leaved asters (Eurybia macrophylla), with a bottlebrush grass (Hystrix patula) making a cameo "bloom"...

...and even a random 'Sunfire' coreopsis is making a re-blooming appearance!

So the unusual year that is 2011 see more stop by May Dreams Garden where Carol most graciously hosts Bloom Day every 15th!

Also blooming:
Unnamed Rudbeckia
Bellflowers (Campanula)
Yellow coneflowers (Ratbida pinnata)
Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Year of Slavic Vegetables

When choosing some vegetable varieties this year I inadvertently developed a bit of a Slavic theme...'Hungarian Heart' tomatoes and 'Bulgarian Carrot Pepper' hot peppers.

I didn't know that Hungary and Bulgaria were sources of tomatoes and peppers, which I associate with South and Central America in terms of provenance.

I'm guessing these of course originated in the New World and the particular varieties were developed in Eastern Europe, eventually making their way back across the pond. The 'Hungarian Heart' tomatoes are indeed heirlooms I ordered from Seed Savers Exchange. The Bulgarian peppers were found in a nondescript container at my local garden center, and I can't say if they're an heirloom or not.

Regardless of where they came from, I'm very pleased with both plants thus far. The peppers are very spicy--much hotter than a jalepeno but not to the level of a habanero. (I am growing jalapenos and chili peppers as well in the container 'o fire, but I unfortunately had to pass on habaneros this year after doing some serious digestive damage with last year's chocolate habaneros!) I look forward to making my own crushed red pepper with the dried Bulgarian Carrot Peppers, which have been producing profusely over the past few weeks.

The first 'Hungarian Heart' just ripened, so I have yet to weigh in on their taste. But the one I have so far is enormous...and in fact shaped like a heart! I'm hoping it will create a delicious base for homemade salsa...not exactly a Slavic food but hey, it's a multicultural garden over here!

After such a lousy spring and slow, dreary start to summer I feared it would be a terrible year for tomatoes and peppers. But with the exception of the bell peppers (which have never once grown well here), my plants are doing extremely well so far. Maybe Eastern European vegetables are accustomed to such weather? I don't really know. And what about the non-Slavic types, like the 'Amish Paste'? Oh well, no reason to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth!

You May Also Like

Related Posts with Thumbnails