Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Did We Ever Survive?

Without air conditioning....

Phlox Blue Paradise loves the heat and has been deadheaded to keep blooming until frost.

Our central air stopped working the other day and you would have thought we were all going to expire, even the dog was miserable.  Luckily, our service man came quickly and had us back in the cool the next day.

Phlox Lavender David

Phlox David
Later blooming

Phlox Eva Cullum
Later blooming

Phlox Franz Schubert and Laura
Deadheading now for rebloom until frost

My Mystery Phlox
Unlabeled last year at Home Depot

Phlox Thai Pink Jade
A gift last spring from the Garden Writer's Workshop

Well, I guess you can see I am really hooked on phlox for the heat.  Even in 100 degrees and some water it bounces back.  If you really want to love phlox just make sure you plant something in front of it to cover it's not too pretty legs.

I did not grow up with air conditioning but I do remember my brother and I going to my aunt and uncle's house (they had all the modern conveniences) and putting our faces in front of the window unit.  Maybe it didn't get this hot then, but in the city the homes were quite close together with little air circulation.

Geranium Blue Sunrise begins with yellow leaves that slowly turn green, weaves gently, loves the heat!

Bob's Blunder Geranium, hugs the ground but also weaves very gently, bronze leaves and tiny lavender flowers - doesn't even know how hot it is outside.

I could barely think about the garden when I was wondering where and how I was going to sleep.  I think I now know how the plants feel with day after day of heat and no cool place to go.

Heliopsis Sunshine Lorraine
I have had this plant for several years and this is the best it has been.

Daylily Tetrina's Daughter
Tall and slim, about four feet middle-late blooming

We didn't spend much time in the house during the summer, catching fireflies in jars during the evening and going to the park district pool during the day or frolicking under the circular sprinkler on the front lawn.  After building our little tent cities in the backyard sleeping under the stars was a great treat.  The popsicles tasted like real fruit with banana being my favorite.

I had to take the zinnias out of this planter because I could not supply enough water to sustain them, but not so for Verbena Imagination.

Dahlia Mystic Illusion and Phantom Petunia and I have certainly found out what Gerber daisies like - HEAT!

I am planning ahead for more hot summers, Allium Summer Beauty has been planted for summer, fall and winter interest.  It likes the heat and is drought resistant.

I was a gardener back then with my carrots around the catch basin, rhuburb and corn along the south side and morning glories growing up the garage wall.

My carrots now are coming up under the daylilies in my vegetable garden, daylilies cut down, carrots revealed.  Well, we will see how this works out!

(The header is the alley garden with Panicum Northwind, Centranthus Alba, Agastache Blue Fortune, Nepeta Walker's low, Sedum Autumn Fire and Sedum Vera Jameson - all drought and heat resistant)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Garden Writer's Day

I was invited for the second year to Midwest Groundcovers Sixth Annual Writer's Day.  It is a long ride, close to an hour to reach St. Charles Illinois, but it is well worth the trip.

I need to find a place for this plant, had it at my last home but it didn't work in my too formal border.  I will try to work it in with the grasses and daylilies in my back garden or maybe the alley garden.

We had heavy much needed rain the night before and even some in the early morning.  The temperature was down to the 80's but extremely humid.

Amsonia and Echinacea

I was so anxious to hear our main speaker Jennifer Davit, Horticultural Director for the Lurie Gardens in Millennium Park.  She not only expounded on her extensive background in many types of plants but also the various locations in which she interned to learn about them.  She is originally from Chicago, but has studied in the four corners of the U.S. including Hawaii.

Echinacea, Amsonia and Asters

The majority of the gardens at Midwest Groundcovers have been designed by Piet Oudolf and the rest certainly show his influence.  Midwest is a large plant supplier to nurseries all over the United States, marketing under different brand names.  That is about to change and we will see their name on plants that we purchase at local nurseries.

The Lurie Gardens uses no chemical additives, all natural insect controls like other insects to keep destructive ones under control.  The mulch for the gardens is the leavings of the plants that are mowed down and shredded in late winter.  Watering is usually not necessary except for this year!  Piet Oudolf is consulted on all changes or additions of planting materials and Jennifer stressed this is a collaboration.

Agastache Blue Fortune
This is one of the few agastache that is hardy in zone 5.  I have this one in the alley garden.

The gardens at Midwest are smaller; whereas, the Lurie gardens is on five acres including hardscape.  The Lurie Gardens are built over a parking garage with real soil used on the roof, not synthetic which many times is used on rooftop gardens.

A speaker who was not on the agenda suddenly walked up to the microphone and it was a pleasant surprise to see Roy Diblik.  I met Roy many years ago when he first began Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wisconsin (close to my home in Lake Geneva).  I saw drastic changes in the farm in the last several years but didn't know why. 

Roy told the story of when Piet Oudolf unfurled the drawings for the Lurie Gardens, he actually got chills at the sight.  He was always a plantsman growing and researching and crossing all types of plants for his business, but he was never a gardener until that moment.   He supplied the plants, many found at Midwest Groundcovers, and Piet supplied the artistry.  Northwind Perennial Farm is now Roy Diblik's own study in artistry.

Allium Summer Beauty

Allium Peek-A-Boo
Will be offered on the market in the spring of 2013, similar to Allium Summer Beauty but shorter

Echinacea Virgin

Delphinium Blue Mirror and Burgundy Fireworks Echinacea

Geranium Soberliferum
We had never heard of this one, lovely leaf structure, gently mounding, no flowers at this time.

My Magical Moment
As I looked at the combination of structure, spikiness, softness and color it all made sense to me.  It doesn't matter how large your garden is because this can all be achieved in a small area.

I came home with lots of goodies, Allium Summer Beauty I purchased a flat (they don't sell in quantity to the public, but I still had an account from several years ago).  The gifts were from Roy Diblik (No names on any of them but I think I have them in my notes) and some Allium Peek-A-Boo from Midwest Groundcovers.  Where am I going to fit all of these treasures in the garden?

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Is A Gardener To Do?

What can we do?  Nothing, about the weather, are you tired of the heat, tired of watering, tired of yanking out shriveled plants?  I am learning the hard way that annuals with big root balls do not like confined containers in the heat!

My list is getting longer by the day of what not to plant in the lovely springtime.  Try to imagine 100 degrees and think of plants that not only will survive but might like it.

Coleus can be a staple in the heat affected garden, give it some water and it will perform for the long hot summer.

Coleus Redhead

Trusty Rusty Coleus

Indian Summer Coleus

Wild Lime Coleus

Wild Lime and Indian Summer Coleus

Sedona Coleus

These are the best of the best.  I am sure there are many others that are great performers, but I have found that year after year these do not disappoint.

Spillers are almost a must for most containers and two of the best I have found are:

Blackheart Sweet Potato Vine

Caroline Sweet Potato Vine

Phlox can be counted on to perform in the heat but it is not a xeric plant so does need to be watered.

Peppermint Twist Phlox

Blue Paradise Phlox
Blue in the morning, magenta in the afternoon

Miracle Grace Phlox

Rozanne Geranium
Rozanne takes the heat give her a light trim every so often.

Bob's Blunder Geranium
I am liking this one in its first year of bloom, low growing, gently weaving.

Peach Flambe Heuchera
This one is a winner on the north side of the house, some sun throughout the day, beautiful color.

Heucherella Stoplight
Very green on the north side and very yellow in the south back border

Daylilies are great in the heat and some are very long blooming, like Chicago Rosy and ....

Red Rum Daylily

Entrapment Daylily

Lady Lucille Daylily

Space Witch and Joan Senior Daylilies

Cherry Cheeks Daylily

Pop Art Red and Yellow Zinnia
Zahara Double Fire Zinnia

I started the zinnias indoors under lights and these have not disappointed.  You get very few seeds so it is important that most of them germinate.
Purslane takes the heat on the south side of the house, love it, but do not plant in the garden, only pots, reseeds everywhere.

These have been an experiment this year, started out in containers, not working.  The leaves became mottled with brown spots and flower buds fell off.  I had seen them at Ball Horticultural last year in full sun, not thriving for me in full sun.  They have thick stems and are very tall and stiff compared to regular impatiens.  I moved them to areas with part shade, planted them in the garden soil, and they are doing much better.
Let's keep going, watering, watering, watering and learning from this unusual season!