Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A White Wednesday

The always beautiful Hydrangea arborescens "Annabelle" in the Stepchild Garden

Swamp Hibiscus "Texas White Star" there any more beautifully formed wild flower?
White Achillea with a blossom of Verbena bonariensis that snuck into the photo
Kousa Dogwood "Wolf Eyes" positively glows in the shade
The White Bridge that crosses the creek in the garden at the Big House in its summer splendor, with lots of cascading white flowers and Crape Myrtle "Natchez" in the background
As usual, click to enlarge if you'd like to see more detail!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weather's Still Miserable, but......

I have a hard time staying cranky about the weather for a long period in the summertime.  Last night we had pretty active thunder and lightning for a few hours, but not a drop of rain.  They're saying a 60% chance for today, but I'll believe it when it happens.  At the moment it's already 76 degrees (6:45 AM).

However hot and sticky it is, this is still better than snow! (and from what I hear, the weather in the north this summer is only slightly better than snow.....)  I'm beginning to agree with Tom from Seventh Street that we should only plant achillea and cone flowers in the south next year!  Maybe I'll add garden phlox to that list, since it seems to be loving the current weather, too.

Here's a shot from "home" (the coast of NH) to cool your screen down a little.  Hopefully it will be that nice when we're there next month.

Have a cool day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 17 and Fried Lilies

It's day 17 of temperatures over 90 degrees, and almost no rain.  There are sporadic crazy storms that pop up in different locations late every afternoon, but alas, none at the Stepchild Garden. Running the sprinklers means basically just keeping things alive; everything is going to seed so quickly it's a daily routine of deadheading to keep some summer color.

Going outside this morning to trim away some more fried flower blossoms in the perennial bed.  Can you tell that I'm a little cranky about it?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Steamy Summer Mornings

We're in our tenth day of temperatures over 90 degrees, and that delightful Georgia humidity that redefines the meaning of "Big Hair."  At 8 o'clock this morning, I broke out in a sweat picking blueberries!

There's been very little rain at home, but the Big House got one of those violent pop-up storms last night that dropped a couple of inches of rain in a very short period.  As a result, everything was incredibly lush and refreshed this morning.

The "Chilly Chili" peppers are coming into their glorious summer color....they're great for heat in a recipe, and we use them in a lot of containers, as well, since their color holds until frost, going from ivory to yellow to orange to red.
The Mission Olives love this heat, as does the Mother of Thyme that surrounds the trees.

The incredible summer blooms make the heat and humidity much more tolerable, though......

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Hummingbird Dance

It looks like summer is definitely here for a while, with temperatures during the day hitting the mid-90's, and only dropping down to the low 70's at night.  It's that time of year when you expect to hear Janis Joplin start singing "Summertime, and the livin' is easy......." when you walk outside in the evening and it still feels like a sauna.  As difficult as the summer heat can be to handle, I still prefer it to the snows of NH that I grew up with!

Georgia has some peculiar new watering laws, which require landscape watering between 4 PM and 10 AM (don't ask......), so I went outside around 8 o'clock last night to turn the sprinkler on.  It was not dark yet, so some of the yellow and orange flowers were positively glowing in the dusky light.

Almost as soon as the water started, it was as if a floodgate had opened, and at least a dozen hummingbirds appeared in various spots around the garden, all aiming for the sprays of the water!  They found their perfect dancing spot, bouncing between the monarda and crocosmia, both those intense colors they like and the perfect shape for sipping nectar.

Standing there watching the hummingbirds waltz with the lightning bugs somehow made the heat more tolerable, and I ended up staying outside watching for almost an hour.

(I didn't have my camera, so please forgive the stock hummingbird photo from Audubon).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hot Summer Mornings

Already 77 degrees and steamy at 7 AM......but there's work to be done in the garden.  Something tells me this is a good day to be weeding in the bog garden....there aren't really a lot of weeds, but I'm sure I can find something to do while keeping my feet in the cold water....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foggy Morning

It was incredibly hot today (the first day of 2010 when the "heat index" approached 100 degrees), but that made for an absolutely glorious foggy morning at the Big House.                            
The Vitex burst into bloom in the past 24 hours, I'm sure prompted by the crazy heat and humidity.  It is the closest thing in my mind that the South has to a lilac.  The containers at the front door (below) are starting to take on that romantic feminine look that I was hoping for....the sweet potato vine reminds me of long flowing hair for some reason....
The terra cotta containers in front of the house are filling in nicely.
At the pool, I really like the way this container is looking. The purple of the petunias picks up the cool color of the water, and what you can't experience from the picture is that the conifer has a strong lemony fragrance, which is really refreshing.
More photos to come!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer is Coming.....

At 7 o'clock this morning it was already 73 degrees and sticky when I went outside to spend a little time cleaning in the Stepchild garden.  We're nearing that time of year in Atlanta when the only reasonable gardening hours are between 8 PM and 8 AM.

This is also the time of year when I am reminded of just how heavily things are planted in the Stepchild, and I have to start getting ruthless in thinning and "passing along" plants.  We spent yesterday doing the same thing in the perennial garden at the Big House.
The Endless Summer hydrangea looked so big a few weeks ago in the mixed border along the street, but now it's almost buried by the cleome, and there there are all the Chinese lanterns coming up through the hydrangea blooms.
Hydrangea "Lanarth's White" still showing a lot of blue near the front door.
Parts of the mixed border are getting ready for July 4th, it seems.  Monarda, Ruellia, Ageratum, and Ammi majus.
The garden snobs will probably hate the garish color combinations, but I really like how happy this area looks.  The Endless Summer, cleome, rose campion, and calendula.
Another shot of the mixed border from the front door.  Can you tell that I'm a big fan of achillea?

As always, click to make them bigger if you'd like.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Three Winners and a Waste of Time

I used more annuals than usual this season at my house, mostly in order to add early color for the Tour, and wanted to report on some of the better performers.

First for the winners: Ammi majus, "False Queen Anne's Lace".  I've seen this listed as "Bishop's Weed," but it's not the groundcover that I know by the same name.  I bought it as an annual, it's about 2 feet high, and absolutely beautiful, with zero special attention.
The second "winner" in my book is Calendula Alpha, which I've mentioned before.  It is still growing and blooming like mad, even with 90 degree days.
The third great one in my mind is Myosotis, the Forget-Me-Not.  I just tore them out after they finally fizzled, but for two months they were absolutely brilliant in the perennial bed when nothing else was blooming yet.
Finally, and sadly, for the waste of time and money.  I think "Mignonette" must be French for "don't even bother" looks like a weed, smells like a weed, and does absolutely zero for the garden.  It wasn't even worth the amount of Roundup I would have needed to kill it.  I say that sadly, since I obsessed about it after hearing so many people talk about the incredible fragrance.....none that I could detect, but maybe it's just a guy thing.