Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day 2017

I fully expected to be out on the trail this weekend doing a shakedown hike with all our gear in preparation for a long July 4 weekend at Dolly Sods. Following doctor's orders, Ann can't hike yet following her knee injury in May, so that's put and end to our hiking and most likely, our trip to Dolly Sods. But, the good news in all this is that surgery is not indicated and she starts rehab this week. So there is something to be happy about in all this.

Sunday was Father's Day, which means precious little to me. For me, I'm a father every day and don't need a day to remind me of it or how much my kids mean to me. But it always means that our early summer flowers are just about in peak condition. And I'm feeling a little sad about our gardens now that they are maturing after 7-8 years of hard work just in time for us to leave them and start all over again in Oregon.

I wanted a reminder that I can take with me, so I hauled the camera out to the back yard to see what I could see. And what I could see looks amazing. The garden isn't a static thing. Some plants thrive and others do not. Volunteers come up every year and some we move to more appropriate locations. Some plants we put in the wrong places and we end up moving them. Some plants are just wrong and they get composted. But now our garden is at a point where it is on its own. Sure, we weed it, prune it, and encourage it, but we are no longer actively planting, letting it find its own way, naturally.

Clasping Coneflower
Clasping Coneflowers, with their waxy bluish clasping leaves, are a wonderful annual in the garden, especially in masses. They seed readily and abundantly and so we have them each year in slightly different spots as they volunteer.

Yarrow
We've got yarrows in the yard that we have either let come up through the grass or transplanted from the field out back. They're not particularly long-lived but they grow readily enough. and bring masses of white seafoam to the garden. Because they are a prairie flower, they really do need staking.

Stella d'Oro Daylilies
 Of all our daylilies, the Stellas have the most wonderful golden blooms against deep green foliage.

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop is a wonderful herb and one of the many culinary herbs that we have in the beds. We rarely eat it, preferring its dramatic vertical foliage and gorgeous lavender spikes of flowers for show. It readily reseeds, but like other mints such as lemon balm, it is not particularly invasive. But buy one plant and the next year, you will have as many babies as you want to transplant. Transplants easily and well.

A Coreopsis
We have something on the order of 15 different forms of coreopsis in the garden. They readily hybridize and reseed and each year we have hundreds of volunteers to brighten our garden in the summer.

Another Coreopsis

A Sunny Yellow Tickseed Coreopsis

Evening Primrose
Our evening primrose was a single plant planted near a patch of rosemary and lavender and the beautiful pink blossoms complement the blue-gray foliage of those plants and looks stunning in combination with the lavender blooms. The primroses seem to be very happy and are merrily taking over their section of the bed, intertwining with both the lavender and rosemary.

Plains Coreopsis
This Plains Coreopsis is a very tall coreopsis (naturally, given its native habitat) that wants staking. It seems to seed readily and comes back true to form, unlike some of the other nearby coreopsis.

An Unusual Purple Coneflower
We have dozens and dozens of coneflowers in all shapes and forms. They seed readily, cross readily, and because some of them are hybrids, the offspring are totally random.

Butterfly Weed
This is the first time that I have put Butterfly Weed in a garden and it has not wanted to take over. Of course, it is in a very tough location because it is one of the few plants that can tolerate the arid dry conditions. That may be holding it in check.

Butter and Eggs
Speaking of taking over, this Butter and Eggs is somewhat invasive in our area. Birds no doubt are responsible for giving it to us, but I'm happy enough to have its cheerful snapdragon-like blooms to brighten my day. It is certainly taking over where it lives.

Our Lone Hosta
We have one patch of shade in our entire yard, now that the trees are getting to be 30 feet or so high. I love hostas, but they don't love the sun. We're lucky to have this one and it seems very happy.

A White-Variant Purple Coneflower

Masses of Thyme in Full Bloom
Thyme is perhaps my favorite culinary herb, but it also makes a great groundcover. We have a lot of it and other herbs in the garden. It's a tough plant that wants to be cut back so don't be afraid to cut it back heavily in the fall or whenever you need it.

Cheerful Monarda
Bee balm is a very cheerful mint, though it is very susceptible to powdery mildew. It looks great in pots up under the arbor though.

Bush Honeysuckle Berries
The woods around here are full of bush honeysuckles and while they are characterized as a non-native invasive, there is no stopping them. The birds feed on the berries and everywhere they poop, here come more honeysuckles. We use them as anchor plants in the long beds. They give great color and structure to the garden. The berries are reported to not be a high quality food source for birds but it is fascinating to watch the fruit eaters (robins, mockingbirds, catbirds, thrashers) bring their babies to the bushes and teach them to pick berries.

Yucca filamentosa
Much of the garden is in the blazing sun and water is scarce in the summer. It is a tough place for some plants. So in many places, we have chosen plants suitable for xeriscaping, much as people do in the desert southwest. Our yucca seems to be thriving here.

Trumpet Vine
The trumpet vine: I love it and I hate it. It is so invasive and wants constant maintenance to keep it in check, yet it rewards us with huge clusters of hummingbird-bait blooms all summer.

Prickly Pear
The Eastern Prickly Pear, Opuntia humifusa, grows all over the east. I mainly see it in the dunes along the beach, but there is a patch growing near us along the Shenandoah River. It apparently loves where we have put it and is really stretching out, growing, and rewarding us this year with dozens of four-inch glorious yellow blossoms. It's a shame that we will not be here in the fall to harvest any fruit.

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