It still feels like it’s early in the summer. We’re less than a month in, so I guess that’s true. However I always feel like July is peak month in the garden. Maybe it’s just my garden. The frantic pace of spring is past and we haven’t yet hit the chaos and dryness of August. I don’t know if we’ll be getting a dry spell this summer, at all. So far, it doesn’t seem like it. But historically, July is our hottest month of the year and it can be a very challenging month for plants.
The All Stars in my garden would have to include these 4 plants: Lavender, Day Lilies, Hydrangeas, and Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus). Odd choices? I don’t think so.
I haven’t always had great luck with lavender. This one, Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’, has only gotten better with age. I’ve had it about 4 years now and it has weathered cold, snowless winters without a gripe. It’s not terribly fragrant, which is a huge disappointment, but there’s something about having lavender falling over your walkway that let’s you know it’s truly summer
I don’t know where I got this melon colored day lily, and I don’t know it’s name, but it’s a wonder. It’s only about 18 inches tall, but it sets dozens of buds and blooms for about a month. It’s the perfect color for pairing with purples and blues – which I do. I lost interest in day lilies about 5 years ago, but ‘Happy Returns’ and this baby will always have a place in my garden. Looking at them this month, I’m ready to give day lilies another go. So undemanding and so reliable.
I bought my original balloon flowers from a 4-H fundraiser. I had tried them once before and they didn’t fare well, but I love the color and figured – Hey, it’s for a good cause. Let’s try them again. Turned out to be a wise decision. They are happy in their sunny spot and have slowly spread and ingratiated themselves among the other plants in the border. So far, they are well behaved, but I think I’ll have to do some editing when I start re-configuring my garden.
Unlike Madonna, I adore hydrangeas and they do wonderfully well for me. The little Invincibelle® blossom in the top collage is getting shaded out by a nearby tree and the blooms are only baseball-size and a very pale pink, which I think is wonderful, in contrast to my overachieving ‘Annabelle’ plants out in full sun. Another great surprise was the blue blooms on my Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lady in Red’. I was given this as a test plant about 10 – 12 years ago. It took awhile to settle in and start blooming, but when it did, Lady in Red bloomed Blue. I should not have been too surprised, as my soil leans toward a 5.0 pH. But I figured since this was hybridized to have red stems and leaf veins, the red flowers would be stabilized. I’m not disappointed. Blue is my favorite color in the garden. July is making it hard for me to decide which plants can go, in my garden downsizing.