Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Front Border in High Summer

This is a scene from my front border after the eremurus, poppies and alliums have gone by
     One of the big problems with a garden is how to sustain interest year round.  As I have explained before, my front border reaches its peak in June, and so the problem becomes, how to keep it looking good the rest of the summer?  This is particularly a problem in a no water border like this, because typically plants deal with lack of water by going dormant.  So the plants in the picture are ones that I have found are good to provide interest later in the summer.
     One of the chief among this group is this late blooming kniphofia.  This is a very large plant I got from Plant Delights many years ago.  If I remember correctly, it was billed as coming originally from Beth Chatto and was considered to be one of the largest kniphofias around.  Unfortunately, I don't remember its name.  I used to grow a lot of kniphofias, but currently this is the only one I have.  I have made a note to myself, however to add more of them for the purpose of providing this kind of late season color.  When planting kniphofias it is important to pay attention to bloom time because their bloom time can vary widely, depending on which one you plant.
     One reason I do not have that many kniphofias any more is that they have rather sloppy foliage.  In the situation pictured above, however, that does not matter so much because the plant is in the middle of a large bed, surrounded by other foliage, so you do not notice its foliage.
     Other plants that are good in a late summer drought tolerant bed like this are Lobelia tupa and various thistle like plants, such as the scotch thistle in the picture (which I am almost afraid to mention for fear the invasive plant mafia will get after me),  cardoons, and globe thistles (the blue globes in the photo are Echinops ritro ssp. ruthenicus). Some of the eryngiums are still going on now, too, although Eryngium alpinum is done blooming.  I have noticed that Eryngium 'Big Blue' has a very long bloom time, and for a border is actually better than Eryngium alpinum,  although its individual flowers are not as good.  It just has such a long bloom time and such a multitude of electric blue flowers on a good looking plant that you can't beat it. If you look closely you can see some of it in the lower left hand quadrant of the picture.
     Another essential plant for late summer interest is Melianthus major which you can see mounded up behind the Kniphofia.  This plant will keep going strongly well into winter in our climate.  It is the foliage which is the thing with it, and it is glorious at this time of the year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Beetle on Cactus

This beetle was sitting on one of my cactus plants the other day
     I thought I would show you a picture of this cool beetle that was sitting on one of my cactus plants the other day.  After googling images of beetles found in the Pacific Northwest, I have tentatively concluded that this is a ten lined June beetle.  According to a Washington State website, this beetle is commonly found in sandy soils west of the Rockies. Adults feed on the leaves of broadleaf trees and some conifers.  The adult can be between 3/4 to 1 and 1/2 inches long.  This particular one was about an inch long.  For those who might want to know, this beetle did not do any damage to the cactus, and it moved on within the day.  This is a good picture to view large if you are not creeped out by insects.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Way To Avoid Staking Delphiniums

Delphinium 'Blue Lace' still upright and unstaked amid Orienpet lilies

Close up of 'Blue Lace'
     I grow a lot of delphiniums in my garden, and I have posted about them previously here and here.  This year I neglected to stake them, and they were all right until we had some rainy and windy weather and then they all splayed every which way onto the ground.  Once they have done that there is nothing you can do but cut them.  There was one bright spot in all this disaster, however.  I have three plants of 'Blue Lace', one of the Dowdeswell delphiniums, planted in a bed surrounded by a number of the well established Orienpet lily 'Satisfaction'.  I wrote about that lily here.  These orienpet lilies, once they are mature, make very thick, sturdy, upright stems.  They are so sturdy, in fact, that if you plant them around a clump of delphiniums they will support them!  How exciting is that?
     I have grown several other orienpets and they all have such sturdy stems that they would serve as delphinium supports equally well.  Other types of lilies that I have grown would not be such good supports.  To adequately support one clump of delphiniums I would estimate that you would need at least 6 lilies to provide adequate support.  That should be no problem as these orienpets can be had relatively inexpensively.  For example, see Brent and Becky's Bulbs where you can get 25 of these for a little over 60 dollars.