June 2, 2008

Early Summer in the Garden

The garden is in transition from late spring to early summer flowering perennials. We've continued to have regular rain showers, so things are looking really promising in the flower garden.

The early blooming perennials such as nepeta and lavender had to be trimmed back in the last few weeks. I still have several nepeta to trim, but I am hesitating until there are more blooms on other perennials in the garden. The nepeta is a honey bee favorite. The nepeta will bloom again.

The Japanese irises are in full bloom now. I could go on and on about these wonderful iries, but I did that in the last blog!

I have a few iris pallida 'Variegata'. It is a fragrant purple. I have three in the ground in the garden and one literally sitting in a pot in my stream! This iris is just beginning to bloom. I'm very excited about it as it didn't do much last year in its first season.

There are a few summer flowering shrubs among my perennials. Spirea 'Neon Flash' is just starting to bloom and is one of my favorites in the garden. I have several other spirea and I believe they are overused in mass (commercial) plantings and underused in home flower gardens as a companion with perennials.

I am anxiously awaiting the rest of that deep rose combination that includes echinacea 'Ruby Star', purple milkweed, pink garden phlox, monarda 'Blue Stockings', crepe myrtle 'White Chocolate', nepeta 'Dawn to Dusk' and a pink muhly grass. I'm hoping for a harmonic blend of similar shades of deep pink and rose with the contributions of this varied group. Right now, the 'Neon Flash' is accompanied by a patch of iris ensata and creeping perennial heliotrope.

One of my new favorite perennials isn't widely used. It is a stachys hummelo (upright betony). Unlike other stachys, the leaves are almost emerald green and not fuzzy! The spikes of deep rose blooms resemble the blooms of a salvia 'Rose Queen'. I planted 5 of these last summer to see how they perform. In my zone 7, these are evergreen, though not as vibrant as in summer. The blooms are just now coming out and are deer resistant. Mine are in mostly full sun with some partial shade by a large crepe myrtle.

I planted the stacys in a garden bed beside our main pathway. I'll have to relocate them at some point as I plan for this bed to eventually be solid delosperma cooperii (ice plant) for simplification. I'm so impressed with them that I want to make sure that I give the stacys more of a featured role in a vignette.

Growing in partial shade inside our fence are (perennial) geranium 'Brookside'. The blue matches the platycoden blooms perfectly. I have these along a path underneath the branches of a Lady Banksia Rose along the fence, a Kwansan cherry and some azaleas.

I've just recently planted geranium 'Rozanne' which is a very popular perennial geranium. Right now, they are a bit leggy from being in a greenhouse. I have to get up my courage to trim and shape both of my geraniums so that they will develop mounding foliage and continue to bloom.

The 'Rozanne' geraniums are planted outside the fence. They are reported to be deer resistant and that location will be the test. The deer recently came through the garden to taste a few Japanese iris blooms and ignored everything else.

My tall verbena is in full bloom right now. However, mine isn't so tall. I leave the heads on the verbena during the winter to encourage reseeding. After the foliage is a few inches tall in the spring, I trim it straight across. This reduces the height, but increases the number of blooms. In the photo below, there is an agastache just beginning to bloom in the background. A bit of the red salvia 'Navajo Red' is showing some. These are located in the butterfly garden and are totally deer proof.

Speaking of butterflies, my husband posted our Monarch Waystation sign in the garden on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, I saw my first Monarch of the season! I'll be writing a blog about the Monarchs later on in the summer.

Our butterfly bushes are beginnning to bloom. We have a number of colors in the garden. Along the guest parking area we use 'Royal Red' underplanted with hypericum calycinum (St. John's Wort) for a purple/yellow combination. Once both are in full bloom, I'll post better photos than these below. By the way, restrict this groundcover hypericum in an area where it won't overrun your perennials. It's fine under large shrubs in a bed where it can't escape.

Our Knock Out Roses have been blooming now since April. They aren't deer resistant, but for the first time, the deer haven't yet nibbled the blooms that are falling through the fence on the outside. I have been spraying the foliage with a Neem oil solution that I mix with a bio-friendly dish liquid and water. This is intended to prevent Japanese Beetle damage. So far, it is working against the beetles (just showed up) and I'm wondering if it also a deer deterrent. I've never heard of it used against deer, but they certainly have left the roses alone.

I hope to have a lot more blooms to post next week. In the meantime...

Happy Gardening!
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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