As much as I want to complain about the heat and heavy rain, the garden seems to enjoy it. The lawn that I haven’t invaded with extended garden yet is lush green. Vegetables and flowers are growing profusely. Except for tomatoes, the heirloom types don’t do well at all. And insects, they follow their food in.
We are happy to see more Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) this year. They are not just visiting the flowers, they also mating, laying eggs and producing a new generation in our garden.
I keep checking underneath Milkweed leaves for their eggs and caterpillars. I found some eggs but it’s hard to look for caterpillars especially when they are small. They are very good at hiding. But, I did find some….
Seeing them in all stages in our garden makes us happy to be contributing to slowing down their possible extinction. Hopefully they can make it safely back to Mexico for their winter hibernation.
Fall is officially here, not just the date but temperature and the color of leaves. The ground is practically covered with leaves and the branches are becoming more bare everyday. We start grinding up the leaves for mulching and composting when we have days off. I don’t cut back much of anything except for the Butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii). This lovely, fragrant and food source for butterflies and bees is very invasive if the flowers are allowed to set seed. I left other plants in the garden stand as they are during winter so birds and insects can have food and some protection from the harsh elements of winter.
As bare as the garden looks now, there are some diehard flowers that are still standing up to the cooling temperature. Frost will eventually stop them but it’s still a different beauty.
Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) starts flowering in summer and won’t stop until frost. Its light fragrance draws bumblebees in.
This little flower, tiny, low to the ground but tougher than they look. They keep going and are good for bees and other insects as a last resource.
Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a real diehard. It can tolerate drought, wet and cold to some degree. I have no idea which one this is since I let them grow freely and cross-pollination results in many shades of phlox in the garden. I only know that the phlox ‘David’ is white.
Rosa Rugosa ‘Ms Doreen Pike’ is still producing flowers here and there. This one is soaking wet from the rain.
Once I pulled some of the Bee balm (Monarda) out to give more space to this rose ‘Antique Caramel’, it seemed to be happier and flowered more than last year.
I don’t remember if I ever mentioned I got this rose ‘Knockout’ for free from the nursery, two of them actually. They’ve been doing really well and never let me down from early summer to frost.
This is one of the Zinnia that is still flowering. Most of them have black spots due to an excess of rain lately. But they are doing well this year.
Summer flowers in our garden are easy to grow and most of them are drought tolerant. Having a full time job I have to be practical about what I plant in the garden. I water the vegetable garden regularly since most of the vegetables don’t do well without constant care. The opposite goes for the rest of the garden. Most of them are doing fine being left alone. I weed, prune and feed them when I have time.
So, summer flowers for bees are the ones that will bloom even when neglected. Here’s some of what I grow..
Black-eyed susan ‘Gold Sturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii ‘Gold sturm’) helps brighten up the garden even when everything else wilts. Bees and butterflies love them. The seed buds become finch food. It is also much more compact and mildew resistant than other varieties.
Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) lives up to its name; it draws butterflies in like moths to a light. It has a lovely sweet fragrance. The down side is that it’s very invasive if you let the flowers set seeds.
I should have classified Echinacea under herbs since it has herbal properties. This one is a native that will grow wherever the seeds drop. The birds also like the seeds.
Well, a lot of people see this Goldenrod (Solidago) as a weed but I found the bright yellow flowers really beautiful. It can take care of itself even along side the road where nothing else would grow.
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is another flower that lives up to its name. The fragrance is sweet to the point of intoxication when enough of them bloom at the same time. The white one above is called ‘Vanilla spice’ the pink one below is ‘ Ruby spice’.
I grouped a variety of zinnia together this year and they came out really nice. I also planted them where they can get full sun all day long. That helps the flowers to stay longer and suffer far less mildew on the leaves.
After uneven temperatures and one rainstorm after another, most of the flowers in our garden have just given up or rotted away. Only a few of them have kept blooming. As the years pass, more and more we see pounding rainfall in autumn that frequently strips the trees of what should be their proudly worn, colorful fall coat. Flowers, being the weaker stalk, fall victim first.
But rather than waste words, I should let the photographs tell the story of their endurance.