19 August 2008

The Endless Summer that Isn't

This is truly being the summer of my gardening discontent. The weather is enough to drive a person to drink. While others around the province have been enduring dry yet cloudy and humid conditions, we've been getting wet , cloudy and humid conditions. Fog doesn't bother me, normally--it's here, it's gone. Not this year. So much southwest wind and therefore fog. When everything is soggy wet, it's just not conducive to wanting to be out playing in the garden. So I stay inside, work and glower out the window on occasion, waiting for those dry days to arrive. Harrumph!

Despite the lack of real tender attention from me, things continue to grow and flower, as they do. Above is Endless Summer hydrangea, which seems to be having a better year this than last, when I threatened it with being moved to the compost pile if it didn't pull up its socks, so to speak. It's not having huge numbers of flowers, but what it has are definitely pretty.

Flat sea holly (Eryngium planum) is one of the stars of our garden from early August onwards. Other sea hollies have flowered already and are drying into pleasing seedheads, but this one just goes on and on, covering itself in rich lavender blue flowers. It's very beloved by the pollinating bees, butterflies and other creatures that visit here.

There aren't a lot of yellow rugosa roses, but one that I'm fond of is Topaz Jewel, well named with its glowing yellow flowers. They aren't as fragrant as their red or white counterparts, and they do shatter easily, so I just leave them on the shrub to flower merrily along.

A sign that summer is past its peak; the helenium have begun blooming. Several of these more compact varieties tend to come on earlier than my exuberant tall yellow ones in the back garden, but I love each and every one of them.

And now it's time for a bit of an ode to coneflowers. I know many of you who are regular readers share my absorption in coneflowers--they're just such splendid, undemanding, high performing plants, and with the diligence of plant breeders in recent years, we have so many more colours than just the white and purple we were long accustomed to.

White Swan IS one of my favourites, just because it's a tidy, handsome plant and its flowers are so pristine.

And this would be your standard purple coneflower. I have a lot of these, because as with other plants that we have many of, they're pollinator magnets. And we are very gratified to see a LOT of bees this summer, I think more than usual, or maybe I"m just spending more time watching out for them.

'Green Envy' is definitely a star in my books, and I'm awestruck at how well it settled in and multiplied itself from last year's planting. It's doing very, very well, wouldn't you say?

As a nice counterpart to all that green, 'Harvest Moon', one of the Itsaul Big Sky series of coneflowers, is richly gold and another favourite.

This is 'Jade', one of the first of the so-called green coneflowers. Compared to Green Envy, it's not so green, but I love it anyway. IN the blurred background, you can see 'Coconut Lime', which has also settled in well and is flowering happily. Double coneflowers aren't to everyone's tastes, but that's the pleasure of gardening--we can all plant what gives us joy. I never met a coneflower that I didn't love, though some have been cranky growers for me.

But they always behave better than hollyhocks.

A followup to all your lovely comments on the hollyhocks. I DID plant yellow ones out there, because a few people sent or gave me seed. But there are apparently garden gnomes at work that, because they've never been freed, insist on exercising their mischief in my garden by roguing out the yellow ones.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. Coneflowers are my absolute favorite, too! So far I have just the usual purple varieties. I have been hesitant (and too cheap) to plant some of the newer cultivars, because many people have told me they haven't performed as well for them. But yours seem to be thriving--what is your secret?

    Love that sea holly; I keep looking at it in plant catalogues and thinking I'd like to have some.

    I was going to offer to send you some yellow hollyhock seed--if I can collect some--but if you've already tried it, perhaps the gnomes just don't like them. Maybe they're the reason my astilbe keep dying:)

  2. Hello Jodi,
    Your echinacea collection is so nice.
    I wonder what is this weather garden discontent? I had same this summer - garden seems to survive without my special attention :)
    It is nice to hear from you again.

  3. I feel your rain pain. So far this August we have had two (2!) days without precipitation. That's seventeen days of thunder storms and downpours.

    At least I haven't had to water the grass seed. I take comfort where I can.

    Maybe your yellow hollyhocks just don't like the damp?

  4. My neighbor asked me to water her garden while she was away for 10 days, and while attending to my duties, I pinched a piece of her Endless Summer Hydrangea and rooted it. I think it may be big enough to bloom next year! It may be a long winter's wait.

  5. It's so funny... you sit inside and work because of the fog and rain while I sit inside doing the same thing because it's way too hot to be outside without getting heatstroke. Your weather that you're having sounds a lot like our winters. That's when I get out there and do the hard manual labor projects that I need to be cool to do. Can we trade summers, please? ;)


  6. So far it's been a very wet summer here too Jodi so I feel your pain. Of all your coneflowers I still like green envy best and you've paced it very well with a background of purple leaves.

    Growing hollyhocks has been a hit and miss affair with me as well. Although the kittycat I named Holly Hock is thriving!

  7. Your flowers seem glorious in spite of your weather. I just added a 'Green Envy' and a 'Sunrise' to my garden. I get tired of the straight species believe it or not! I did see a wonderful grouping of over one hundred 'white swan' echinacea at a public garden and it was enchanting. I wish I had their budget.

  8. Your Sea Holly never fails to make me smile -- I think that's the first "must have" on my ever-lengthening list. :) I'm glad to see your post; I was concerned you were not feeling well again. Your garden, as always, looks amazing.

  9. Jodi, like Rose, I have been concerned about the different colored cone flowers wintering over(We've been told they don't do well) but yours seem to be thriving. Now, I have no excuse not to try some. I've not seen any of the doubles here and may have to go on line for them-but oh so pretty!
    Glad to know you are surviving. I had been worried you weren't well again. Happy gardening!

  10. This has been a good year for 'Endless Summer.' Mine has also earned a reprieve from the compost bin. I lost my 'Jade' Coneflower. I don't know why, as there are other Coneflowers nearby. Maybe it gave up after my husband stepped on it while cutting down a tree that was leaning on the fence. I hope your fog clears up soon. Meanwhile, around here it is starting to get too dry.

  11. Although I believe that you are having one soggy summer, your photos are trying to belie your words with their blooms. I especially love the sea holly as we don't have it here. I wonder if it would grow here? Probably too hot and dry.

    We are having some soggy days too, and last summer ours was like yours is now.~~Dee

  12. You have such beautiful coneflowers! I really like the simplicity of the White Swan--what colors do you have it planted with?

    And totally agree with your hollyhock frustration!

  13. I can't get those Big Sky coneflowers to work for me, especially 'Harvest Moon'--that thing gets stunted, turns borwn, and dies off. Others like 'Sunset' and 'Twilight' look great if I buy new ones every year. 'Sunrise' works. I too like 'White Swan' as it's super dependable. Ah, coneflowers. Sorry it's so wet by you--here, in Nebraska, it was super wet in spring and early summer, and the last 1.5 months it's been super dry--plants were in heaven, now they are in withdraw.

  14. You have such a beautiful garden to be stuck inside!!! I do know how that feels. I froze to death when we lived in California. We lived at Vandenberg AFB which sits out in the pacific ocean--and there is fog all day except between 2 and 4. I had a pretty garden though!

    All your hollyhock and coneflower blooms are perfect. Everything here in NC is dried up. I wonder why you can't grow a yellow hollyhock bloom?

    I'm ready for fall. I don't wish that on you though.

  15. Isn't it a wonder how life goes on without us, Jodi. Considering your 'not perfect' summer, your garden is lovely plus you have been blessed introducing new varieties of coneflowers ... I have not been so lucky :(

  16. What a lovely hydrangea. You have some really beautiful flowers, I am suffering from flower envy! I am at the other end of the spectrum, where it's TOO dry and TOO hot most of the summer. It's lovely to see your plants in a cooler climate.

  17. Ah! finally I can post a comment! The Lazy Gardener loves coneflowers. They just keep coming back! Now I have some new varieties to look for. Thanks blooming one!

  18. The second line to "that's my story and I'm stickin' to it " is " My skin got so thin you could see right through it " :-)

    I must thin out my Rudbeckia and plant more coneflowers. I lost most of them last winter.

    Your garden looks lovely despite all the bad weather, Jodi. The dog days of summer are here !

  19. Your garden is soggy and our garden is dry. Not enough fog to do anything for the garden and we have had only 1/2" of rain all month. I was so hoping that Fay would bring rain to us. It just isn't to be. Even my cone flowers have dried up.

    Your cone flowers are quite beautiful. I especially like the white swan. I might have to seek out the white swan.

  20. Too bad we can't share rain like we can share seeds, cuttings, and divisions!

    Gorgeous helenium and hydrangea. I love that adorable sea holly and hear its siren call. It would probably flop here though with the lack of sun.

    I've given up on the fancier coneflower cultivars in this garden. I've tried a number of them, but none come back after the first season. I thought for sure White Swan and Frangrant Angel would make it, but alas, they too expired after their first year. Ruby Giant and the species grow well here, maybe it's because they can tolerate more shade. Whatever the reason they've settled in, I'm so happy to have them!

  21. Beautiful flowers in spite of the lack of sunshine :)

  22. Lovely blooms.

    Strangely enough, I've just begun to add coneflowers to my gardens. Next year I should have blooms to enjoy. I love them, I don't know why I never planted them. Odd.

    Wishing you warm sun and a few more dry days.


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