Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday - Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis, whose common name is cardinal flower, is a plant I've lusted after for years, and the first plant I thought of for the area of our swale that stays moist all the time. Cardinal flowers can be somewhat short-lived, but have a better chance of longer-term survival and self-sowing in consistently moist, or even wet soil in full to part sun.

Native in Illinois, cardinal flowers are highly favored by hummingbirds, their primary pollinators. This year hummingbirds have seemed more scarce than usual here. Although the tiny birds aren't easy to see and even harder to photograph way back where the cardinal flowers are, if we look carefully, we see them sipping nectar from the brilliant red blooms off and on all day.

Aside from a few hostas I've transplanted upstream at the back of the swale as the shade garden has been planted (previously, the overabundant hostas had been 'place holders' in the shade garden,) the plan is to plant exclusively native plants in and around the swale. Three years ago a river birch, red-twig dogwood and a pair of winterberry hollies were planted slightly upstream. They're all thriving in the moist soil. Early this summer, heleniums were added, started from seeds from Monica's seed swap late last winter. They should love the moist soil, but might prefer more sun than they'll get here.

With cultural requirements identical to cardinal flowers, blue lobelia will also be tried in the always-moist part of the swale. It 'only' took about seven years to get the shade garden entirely planted. The swale is much smaller and should go more quickly.

Wildflower Wednesday is celebrated on the fourth Wednesday of the month. For links to more posts, please visit Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Hosta rectifolia 'Fujibotan'

The foliage is ordinary - long and pointy, glossy, deep green, and slightly ruffled. The blooms however, are anything but ordinary. We look forward to seeing them every July.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Bloom Day

Although not yet actually blooming, the blooms I'm most excited about this month are cardinal flowers. Now that our shade garden is fully planted, attention is being turned to the swale. Functional, but not particularly attractive, since the weeping willow in the yard behind us came down, a large section of the swale is always wet. Last year Lobelia cardinalis, a native plant I've always wanted to grow, was added there. In the next few days, it will bloom for the first time.

Several colors of double impatiens are blooming in hanging baskets - this pink, a red called 'Salsa,' a hot pink, and a bright coral. Salsa was purchased, and the others were started from cuttings in the basement over the winter from last year's plants.

A few feet can make all the difference here. Last fall I moved this bee balm a few feet where it now gets more sun, and the blooms are much bigger than they used to be. I'd almost forgotten what they were supposed to look like!

Coneflowers and Agastache

Coneflowers and 'Rosy Returns,' a reblooming daylily also moved last fall, and blooming again. Last year, Rosy didn't bloom at all.


Also blooming are Sambac jasmine, Geranium 'Rozanne,' 'Happy Returns' daylilies, Dragon Wing and wax begonias, Black-eyed Susans, phlox, Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne,' Johnnie jump-ups, Spring Fling petunias, pelargoniums, heucheras, hostas, single impatiens, catmint, calamint, feverfew, beautyberries, celandine poppies, a NOID white eupatorium volunteer, and in the veggie gardens, peppers, tomatoes, peas, bush beans, arugula, and radishes.

To see what's blooming in gardens around the country and around the world, please visit the creator of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Little Garden Art

This weekend I attended my first-ever garden walk. I had such a wonderful time I'm inviting you to come along from the comfort of your home. As blog slide shows go, it's a bit long, but I've already paid for your ticket, you won't be hot and sweaty, and you won't even need a hat.

This was the Union Street Gallery's sixth annual garden walk. This year's theme was A Little Garden Art. There were ten gardens on the walk. I made it to seven, and photographed six. I hope you'll join me on this visit to a few of south suburban Chicago's lovely gardens.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nasties on the Move

After producing two blooms last month, the nasties weren't budding or blooming. It's been a little challenging finding a sunny enough spot for them, and last week I moved them back to the veggie garden where those two buds were produced. Although the foliage seems less happy with the heat and sun in this spot, the nasties are budding again. Maybe we'll have a few blooms to show off for Bloom Day next week!

Sorry for the tardy post - work, the holiday, and a hospitalized relative took priority over blogging.

I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds.