My Top Ten July Plants

Okay, I’m not sure I can really limit it to ten, but I’ll give it a shot.  

Generally speaking, July is my 2nd least favorite month (with February at the top of the list).  In a “normal” summer (this summer has not been at all normal), July is hot, humid, dry, pest-ridden, and the late spring-early summer perennials have had their heyday and the borders are looking alot like the day after the party…This year, with all of the rain and cooler temperatures, plants are running a little behind bloom schedule and the Japanese beetles, bless their voracious appetites, have just arrived.  As a result, this year’s July line up is a mixed bag with some early summer blooms still hanging in there.

In not any particular order, my top ten blooms for July are:

Carding Mill, one of my favorite David Austin roses.  It’s a shrub rose with the most spectacular, apricot-colored blossoms.  It blooms all summer long once it begins, barring decimation by the dreaded Japanese beetles, although  I’m quite zealous about handpicking them off this shrub on a daily basis.
What can I say?  I adore poppies of all colors and types.  I have no issue at all with allowing them to self-seed wherever they desire.
I also adore hollyhocks, one of those quintessential cottage garden flowers.  I’m particularly fond of the deep burgundy version, which I had for several years.  Unfortunately, when allowing them to freely self-seed, there is little guarantee on the colors.  I prefer the single bloom variety as they are more pollinator-friendly.


Clematis ‘Wisley’, with lovely purple blossoms that bloom from mid-summer through early fall.  It can reach up to 10 feet tall.  This one is growing up the north side of the large arbor near our back patio and gazebo. 
Asiatic Hybrid Lily ‘Golden Stone’ — an upfacing bloom with a cheery yellow disposition; I love the splash of red in the center.  These grow on the edge of my shade garden, which gets a few hours of sun in the morning, and they generally reach between 4-5 feet in height.
What would mid to late summer be without daylilies?  This is part of a red mix that I purchased from White Flower Farm in Connecticut.  I bought 24 of them and they’re scattered throughout the hot border.


The luxuriously soft leaves, sparkling with early morning dew, of Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’.  Its leaves grow up to 12″ long, twice the size of the typical “Lamb’s Ears” (as it’s commonly known).  It will throw up silver wands capped with small pink or purple flowers, but I’ve added it to the edges of the Rose Garden for the felt-like, silver foliage.


You can’t find a more trouble-free summer perennial than Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ — the Shasta Daisy.  It’s upfacing, white flowers with yellow centers always remind me of the dog days of summer.  This patch –I have Shasta Daisies throughout my garden–is on the south-easterly side of the gazebo and looms over a two year old Sambucus ‘Black Lace’ (elderberry).
My shade garden is a sea of columbine (already spent), hosta, and astilbe of all varieties.
Another daylily in the hot border – Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’.  It has large, 8-9 inch blooms that, with its deep red and bright yellow center, really makes a statement.
Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Nights’ — a happy flower on wonderful  burgundy stems that can reach 3-4 feet tall.  It’s also in the hot border and despite my attempts to remove it — I wasn’t fond of its flimsy nature since it would inevitably end up bent over after the first significant rain — it insists on reappearing.  I left it alone this year and so far it’s holding up.  I do enjoy its free-flowing nature.
Last on the July list…Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Sentimental Blue’; this is a dwarf variety that tops out around 1′ to 1.5′.   It has decent foliage and with its marvelous bluish-purple blooms it’s a great add toward the front of the border. 




Slow Down

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  – Henry David Thoreau


I’m  as guilty as the next person when it comes to an utter inability to slow down — to stop running from one thing to another, to stop the to-do lists from churning through my mind — to just slow down and smell the proverbial roses.

When I find my life getting a little too crazed, a walk in the garden or in the woods often helps to refocus my mind and allow me reconnect with nature; to really stop and see the world around me – and what a beautiful world it is!


“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson



The Beauty of an Early Morning


“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius


“I’m so glad my window looks east into the sunrising…. It’s so splendid to see the morning coming up over those long hills and glowing through those sharp fir tops. It’s new every morning, and I feel as if I washed my very soul in that bath of earliest sunshine.” — L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


“When in the fresh mornings I go into my garden before anyone is awake,  I go for the time being into perfect happiness.” —  Cecilia Thaxter


“What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn!”
—  Logan Pearsall Smith


End of June Blooms

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”  — Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


Step through the gate and into the secret garden…


Linger as the colors and scent of June envelops you…


“Then followed that beautiful season… Summer….

Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”  — Henry Wadsworth LongfellowIMG_8227IMG_8234IMG_8247IMG_8255


Rainy Sunday


Thunderstorms are rumbling through right now, along with some torrential rain, so my gardening was cut a little short today.  I love thunderstorms though, so I’m content to sit in my darkening kitchen typing this post, rather than being outside weeding and deadheading peonies.

Have I mentioned that it’s been an abnormally cool and wet spring and early summer? We’ve had rain 6 out of the past 7 days, and that’s been the norm since April.

The vegetable garden is less than pleased, but the perennials and newly planted trees and shrubs are loving it.  So are the weeds, which have taken over every border I’ve yet to get to for “spring” clean-up (i.e., weeding, edging and mulching)…at this rate I might make it through the final border by fall!

Below are some photos of the plants in bloom this weekend.  Enjoy!

Astilbe beginning to flower in the shade garden


The last hoorah for the peonies for this season
Finally some of the clematis is making its way up the arbor
A shrub rose that I grew from a cutting from a local gardener – no idea what type it is, but it blooms like crazy all summer long — with catmint underplanted
Astilbe in the front with Sweet William, Spirea and yet to open Shasta Daisies behind
Alnwick Rose – a shrub rose bred by David Austin; repeat flowering and wonderfully fragrant, I selected it for the new rose hedge last year.  I planted 11 of them in an arc to close off the new rose garden.  They will hopefully reach their full height of 3-4 feet next season.
A new addition in the rose garden this season, Heuchara ‘Red Sea.’  I’m in love with this foliage!
Allium seedhead with water droplets in the rose garden
Clematis ‘Venosa violacea’ – the 1st blossom of the season with loads more to come
View of portions of shade garden (forefront), circle garden and peony border from upstairs hall window
I don’t recall planting this, but I think it’s Campanula barbata (Bearded Bellflower). If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!
Hippolyte Rose – an old rose that is cold-hardy.  I added this one last year in the rose garden.  I love the deep purple color; the photo doesn’t accurately capture the color.
Dianthus hybrid
Sweet William – I grow these from seed so the colors are always a surprise

Baby Robin


We’ve been quite lucky this spring.  We’ve been graced with an Eastern Phoebe nesting in our sheep barn; building her nest atop a light fixture.  She successfully hatched 3 babies, who seemed to take very little time at all to go from tiny creatures to full fledglings flitting about the barn for a day or two, and then poof – gone into the wild.

We also had a couple of tree swallows who nested in the bird house situated between the orchard and sheep pasture.  I just noticed a couple of young ones flying about with the parents the other day.  They’ll be heading out soon as well.

Lastly, we had a female robin take up residence in an old robin’s nest atop out front door. She gave it a little make-over (everyone’s a critic) before settling in to lay her eggs.  There were 3 eggs, but the babies have hatched and as of yesterday, I’ve only see two heads pop up whenever I’ve stepped out onto the porch to water the container plants.  This morning, Nora noticed that one of the young ones (photo above) had left the nest.  

Mom is still very much around, bringing a constant supply of worms and screaming vociferously whenever we even contemplate stepping out the door.  I expect we’ll see the 2nd one venture out soon.