As of late, I have been browsing blogs to see what others go on about and what makes each blog special. Yep, I’m looking for pointers and ideas so I’m surfing the blog-o-sphere. I had become a fan of The Tidewater Gardener after a friend recommended that I check him out. Recently, there was a post with a challenge that members of the blogger community – the flower lovers & gardeners among us – get out there and take photos of the flowers blooming in their gardens on June 15th and post them for all to see. The original idea seems to have come from another blogger – Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Carol invites all bloggers to survey, photograph, and share their blooms and then add a link at her blog-site to share the wealth with everyone. Of course, I found all this a week or so later than the intended “share” date but I cannot really let that stop me, now can I?
So, round the yard I went taking photos of flowers with my trusty Sony Cybershot® only to find that most of the photos were too blurry to use. Either my eyes are going bad or the camera has been dropped a few times too many. Vanity keeps me from admitting the first and thriftiness the second. So, next day, I was out there again with a little bit better camera….and I got a little bit better photos….and some are good enough to share.
Starting off with the obvious, there are three different hydrangeas blooming in the flowerbeds at present. I ask you, what respectable southern gardener would not have hydrangeas in the yard? There are some givens with southern gardens – hydrangeas and roses and crepe myrtles. If you have any more yard room at all, then you have to have a Southern Magnolia; if your yard is small, like ours, you can get away with omitting the magnolia but you absolutely must have the others. Of course, the crepe myrtles are not blooming right now or I’d surely have a picture to show you. We have both mopheads and lace cap hydrangeas blooming this June (Macophylla mophead & Macophylla normalus).
Moving on to roses, we have a few but mostly they are the easy to deal with type of roses – shrub or blanket. I also, do not tell any of my gardening buddies, have Knock Out® roses. I absolutely cannot grow roses – they are just too much trouble. Every fungus and disease known to man also is known to roses – intimately. I am here to tell you, if there is a spot to be had, black or otherwise, it’ll be had on the roses. So, I gave up on the tea roses and the fancy ones and just stick to the wilder looking ones that seem to grow by themselves without dust or spray or, in my shady yard, light of day. The particular rose photo I am sharing is one from a rose whose name I do not know. It is not unusual for me not to know the names of the flowers I grow because I do not always keep up with the right & proper (i.e. species) name for anything. And, on top of that, I inherited my daddy’s habit of re-naming every flower to better fit what it looks like. For example, he called wild red Columbines (Aquilegia species) “red tinker-bells” and Forsythia was, of course, “yellow tinker-bells”. I can totally see that so I now call them that too. Oh, just so you know, Forsythia is another of those flower bushes that no southern home can be without. But back to the rose that I do not know the name of whose photo I included. This one I will not take credit for forgetting – it didn’t come with a name. I got it for $1 at an “end of season” sale at Lowe’s®. I got two roses and I stuck them in the ground that very day and it was some six months or so before I had any clue what kind of rose they were. Turns out they were blanket (or carpet or groundcover) roses – one light pink and one dark pink. Both are blooming now but I kind of like the light pink one best.
As you might be able to tell, I am a sucker for a bargain and will peruse the “on sale” area like nobody’s business. I once bought a little piddly looking plant that didn’t have a chance of surviving because it was marked “slow mover”. I took it home and tried to make it live because I wanted to see if it ever would move at all. I’ll never know – it died shortly after I got it home. But even better than buying a plant on sale is getting one free. Now, hold your horses, I am not talking about “rustling” plants although it has occurred to me that pinching off a little Coleus now and then from someone’s overflowing container garden might not be such a bad thing. I prefer to think of my habit as “relocating” plants to a better place in life. But I do limit myself (for the most part) to relocating plants with permission or from places that are obviously not going to be a problem like construction sites where everything is being plowed up and destroyed – although you need to get permission to be there too. But the next photo (above) is a wild-flower (of sorts). This is a Wild Yam Vine (Dioscorea villosa) that we inadvertently came home with while “relocating” a fern from beside a creek bed by the side of the road. We also came home with a poison ivy vine that gave me the worst case of poison ivy I have had in many a year (plant rustling is not without its punishment). The yam vine is an interesting one so I kept it. I have never really seen any type of flowers blooming on it but it always has these tiny little seed pods. I do not know if these are some sort of modified bloom but it is what passes for blooms for me. On the good side, this vine comes back every year but doesn’t really seem to get bigger or spread any further than where it is. These may be famous last words for me. On the other hand, no matter how much I love birds and how much birds love poison ivy berries, I am not about to keep that evil vine anywhere near my yard.
The next best kind of “free” plants are those that come up voluntarily. These volunteers are usually weeds (beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, is it not?) and most people do not want them around and spend considerable amounts of time and money trying to get rid of them. But the red raspberry vine growing in the yard is my favorite kind of volunteer. The vines were here when we moved here and we have transplanted them to various places in the yard (with a little help from the birds). Fortunately, they are relatively easy to remove and keep under control (with good thick gloves). AND, they produce wonderful sweet berries every year. On the down side, we do not usually get to eat many of the berries because the birds get to them first. I have noted that birds are better at gardening than I am – at least they are better at monitoring progress on the berry bushes than I am. The blooms on a raspberry vine are pretty innocuous but the early buds are quite lovely. I suspect this is not a cultivated red raspberry bush but rather a Japanese Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolaseus) which has become invasive in some parts of this state. For now, they are loved by the birds (and by me) so I allow the vines to continue to grow.
Another berry bush just coming into bloom is the Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana). Unlike the wineberry vines, the beauty berry is all American – nothing foreign or invasive about it. Again, the blooms are tiny but will be replaced by bright purple berries in another few weeks. I planted this bush specifically for the birds to enjoy and they do. When we planted a blueberry bush out front, we dreamed of eating those sweet berries but the birds get to them and finish them off long before they are fully ripe so we never get a one. On the other hand, the beauty berry bush is different… the birds do not really eat the berries until late autumn. Maybe, they know that we humans do not eat beauty berries so there is no need to eat them quickly to keep us from getting to them first. So, a bit after the first good cold snap in autumn, the robins and mockingbirds and catbirds swoop in and consume every single little beauty berry in just a day or two.
I also have planted Trumpet Vine (Campsis radecans) for the birds to enjoy – particularly the hummingbirds. And who doesn’t want hummingbirds in their yards? The trumpet vine is also a native plant but this one can be invasive and it can grow quite large so you have to plant it where you can try to control it. I say “try” because that is about all you can do. But, it is a favorite with hummingbirds and butterflies and, apparently from the photo, ants. I have never seen so many ants on a bud before and I am wondering if the trumpet flower is like a peony that is covered with ants and has a bit of a symbiotic relationship during the hard bud stage. I note that a more common name for the plant is the “cow-itch vine”. Do you suppose it is the ants that cause the cows to itch or the vine? Of course, the “itch” could come from some allergen in the plant – the leaves remind me quite a bit of poison sumac. But I’m good with it as long as it is the cows that are itching and not me.
Now, moving back to blooms from plants less wild. The next two flowers are plants I purchased in years past at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The first is a Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and has a tiny bloom but, like coleus, has such beautiful foliage that it holds a special place in my garden. For me, that is. It hangs over the edges of the flower beds and drives my husband to distraction…but that is only because I do not let him run through it with the weed whacker.
The other is one of those mystery plants that I bought on a whim at the show and I haven’t the foggiest idea what it is. It is a bulb and not hardy at all so I keep it in a pot with an Elephant’s Ear that I bring in to the sun room to winter over every year. You’ve been to those shows and heard those vendors talking about magic bulbs that produce marvelous tropical flowers that you know you just got to have and today only they are only $2.99 or you know you’ll regret it if you do not buy this bulb right now!!! Well, I heard the spiel and had to have it and I bought it and came home proudly with my little bulb like a treasure in a little brown paper bag. I figured I would plant it and it would never come up and I’d just be out my three bucks….which is usually what happens. But it has surpassed all my expectations and then some. It was supposed to be a “firecracker” lily and I continue to call it that because it blooms without fail every year around July 4th. This year, it is a little bit early but the blooms will last a week or so and take us right into Independence Day. I have googled the name and did see one image of a similar plant but mostly the only bloom that popped up on Google® was a bright red Asiatic lily. If anyone knows the name of this bulb, please pass it along. Otherwise, it’ll remain the Firecracker Lily. I think that maybe an orange or yellow one planted in the same pot would make a nice fireworks type display but I would have to know what it is before I can try to buy another one. It is sounding more and more like I need to go back to the flower show in hopes that the bulb hustler is still there with his brown bag of goodies that no gardener can ever resist.
And finally, June is the month for lilies, both daylilies and Asiatic lilies. And there are few plants more beautiful. From the cool clean elegance of the Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) to the bright hot orange of the roadside orange or tawny daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) , they are all quite beautiful.
For lilies & daylilies, it is best to let the photos speak for themselves.