Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pumpkin 'One Too Many'

This is a gorgeous new pumpkin that I'm growing for the first time this year. I always plant a few hills somewhere - this year they are at the edge of the parking lot. From the catalog description, these are good pie pumpkins, so after I enjoy them as decorations, I'll cook them all down and put them in boxes for pies and breads and muffins over the winter. This is a fairly large one, at least 10 pounds at this point. I have at least a half dozen of them in various stages of readlness, this being the largest so far. I also have planted some Jahrdale Blue (at least I think that's how you spell it) which is a large flatter rather than rounder pumpkin which is a very nice shade of blue. I've grown them before and the flesh is extremely smooth and string free with a wonderful taste. Makes one almost wish that summer was over and pumpkin harvest time was here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


This is Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm', a selection of the common Black Eyed Susan. This was my first purchased one and a very large clump is still growing by the upper pond. This picture was taken many years ago while the clump was still small.
The next one is Rudbeckia maxima, the tall one I think I talked about before. The petals are more rounded and the flowers a bit smaller, but the plant can easily reach 8 feet tall. It seeds freely, so you'll never be without this one, nor will you want to be once you see its cheery blooms in August and until frost.
This next one is a pretty double with an eye which came from a packet of seed which was for 'mixed' Rudbeckia. The local rabbit population did in a lot of them, but this one survived. It is a really late bloomer, just starting now, but worth the wait. It is about 3 feet tall and makes a good cut flower as do the rest of them.

This last one I've planted a whole row of just outside of the fence for my vegetable garden. It is simply a double Black Eyed Susan called 'Goldilocks'. It started blooming from seed planted this spring in July and is still going strong. I had one plant of this from that mixed seed packed and looked around for what it might have been since I liked it so much. This year I found it and it really makes a nice border. It is near my zinnias and large marigolds, so there will be color there until heavy frost.

I might try an assorted pack again to see just what else is out there. They are definitely hardy and have a long bloom season and do cheer up the garden when lots of things are looking a bit worse for the wear.

Friday, August 29, 2008


This first Columbine I've written about before. It is 'Woodside Strain', so not a homogenous plant, but ones with mostly the same leaves and flowers that can be any of a range of pastels. It usually comes true from seed, though you might get a few with all green leaves and a fair number with yellow leaves. Actually it makes far more babies than one can ever use, but they weed out easily and because they are so pretty are easy to give away or trade.

This next one has yellow flowers and there are several different named ones like this so I'm not sure exactly which one this is. I do know that it is quite tall, probably 3 foot bloom scapes. It also makes a lot of babies, but since none have bloomed yet, I don't know if they will come true from seed.
This white one, don't know the name, does come true from seed, but doesn't make very many babies. It is a small plant, rarely over a foot tall. I have moved some of the babies to different locations with no problem. Columbines seem to be able to be moved most any time, though I probably wouldn't do it much later than now to give them a chance to settle in before frost.

'Ruby Port' is on of the non-spurred blossoms. It is a very dark wine red with smaller flowers and about 2 feet tall.

This is a native Columbine from near Lake Superior (if I remember correctly) that we bought from the folks at Oikos Tree Crops. If you're looking for native plants and things friendly to birds and critters, this is a good place to browse. This Columbine does come true from seed, but seems to be a bit overzealos in its seed production. We did have to emtpy a whole small bed of it this year because it was taking over. It is about 4 feet tall and lovely, but a little more enthusiastic than I might like in a civilized garden.

This was my first Columbine which I got from Glasshouse Works many years ago. It seeds sufficiently to give me plants to put other places without being too invasive.

This is one of its latest seedlings, a lovely grape purple. One of the neatest things about this one (or one of the bunch of them) was that a lot of them had black stems. Quite striking where they were growing next to one of the waterlily ponds.

End of the Columbines, but I hope you see the range of colors available in this easy to grow plant. I know there are probably hundreds more out there, all just as lovely as these.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aquilegia 'Songbird Cardinal'

I've always loved the Columbines, but this has to be one of my favorites. 'Songbird Cardinal' is one of a series, though this is the only one of them that I've grown. Unlike some of the others, this one doesn't seem to seed around and becoem a nuisance. I have had the one clump for about 4 or 5 years. I did collect seed from it last year which grew well, but hasn't bloomed yet, so I don't know if it will come true. Columbines will grow well in sun or light shade. Time is short this morning so I'll continue the Columbine pictures tomorrow with the others we grow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Salvia ulinginosa

Blue is a wonderful color in the garden. Not those plants that are called blue but are really lavender, purple or some other color, but those that are truly blue. This is one of those. Salvia ulinginosa, Bog Sage, starts blooming here mid-summer and continues until frost. It is a tall plant, maybe 4 feet in a spot it likes and can be floppy sometimes. It isn't totally reliably hardy here, sometimes coming back and sometimes not - and never early, but it does reseed so you're likely to see it, if not in the exact same place the next year, at least close. The blooms don't have any fragrance, but I do see butterflies on it, so that's another reason to grow it. We've been growing it for about 5 years and will probably always have some here if for no other reason than to have a bit of blue in the garden.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hibiscus - Hardy Ones Part Two

This first one is 'Blue River 2' (or II or Two, maybe even too - not sure which). It is an absolutely pure white, very large flower which always seems to show up bluish in photos. Maybe I'll try again today while it is overcast and a better day for taking pictures.

This is 'Crown Jewels', a slightly different shaped flower, sort of saucer shaped with an upturned edge.

I think I might have mentioned 'Fireball' before. It is very red, very large, and also a bit unruly in the garden. It is a large plant, probably 5 feet tall, but the stems don't seem to want to be upright, rather they head off a an angle, not on the ground, but somewhere in between, so that it takes up much more space than it would if it would behave better. I still like it, though, because of it's intense red flowers and burgundy flushed foliage.

This is 'Kopper King', a tall and skinny one with slightly smaller flowers, if any of the hibiscus I'm talking about could really be said to have small flowers. These are showy plants that demand your attention. This is even more true when at this time of year they are the only real show in the garden in any kind of major display. There are plenty of smaller things, lovely surprises as you round a corner - calendulas, zinnias, black eyed susans - but hibiscus will just not be ignored.

This is an older one, 'Lady Baltimore' and dependable. A pleasant shade of light pink with an eye.

Her counterpart if 'Lord Baltimore', the same sort of red as fireball, but in a taller plant with green foliage.

This pretty much covers the hardy hibiscus we grow here. I have 2 tropical ones that live in large pots outside in the summer and on the sunporch in the winter. They are way too big, but I've had them forever and couldn't part with them. I thought about taking cuttings so I'd have smaller plants, but they grow so quickly that it would be no time at all before they took over again. These are both ones with variegated leaves so they look nice even when not in bloom. They have smallish (for a hibiscus) flowers, both orange.
Speaking of things I'd rather not haul into the house again this year, I have a Night Blooming Cereus for which I'd like to find a new home. If any of you live in the vicinity of SE Ohio and would like it, let me know. Otherwise I'll probably list it on Freecycle.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hibiscus - Hardy Ones Part One

I think I'll do two days of the rest of the hibiscus. These are some species, some wild collected, some hybrids. I thought I could do them all in one day, but I could only get it down to about a dozen pictures that I just had to include, so two days it will be. These are mostly in the 6 foot tall clump size, width about the same once established, though in the wild they just keep spreading/seeding. We have a clump across the street, at the edge of the parking lot that appeared all by itself. I expect seeds in mulch, but who know.
This first one is 'Old Yella'. I guess they had to change the spelling because of copyright stuff. It does have a yellowish tone when it first comes out, but I don't think it lasts all that long in my garden.

This is probably my tiniest one, 'Nacadoces River'. I think it was a wild form collected there. It is my tiniest one at only about 3 feet with small flowers. It lives in a small iris bog away from the others which would just overpower it. It also have very thin, fine leaves.

'Raspberry Rose' has lived in several places in the garden. It has just moved to its third home. It is tall, probably 8 feet or so and besides spreading out a lot, seems to seem all over the place. It has just moved to a place by the parking lot where it can be just as pushy as it likes. The flowers are probably about 8 inches across. It will take quite a bit of water - bog or pond edge.

Sante Fe is a newer one here with large pink flowers on about a 6 foot plant. I think this is one of the Gilberg Farms introductions. They were 3 brothers, all dead now I remember hearing, who spent their lives hybridizing hibiscus. A large percentage of what you find in garden centers comes from their work. Google their website to learn all about them.

'Sweet Caroline' is an older variety, at least it was around before all of these new hybrids hit the market. We sold it about 10 years ago and it wasn't new then. It lives in a bed with roses and daylilies which gets lots of sun and not as much water and seems to be happy.

Last for today is 'Turn of the Century' which arrived here with 'Sweet Caroline'. It seems to be a less robust plant and we had to replace it at least once. I don't see it being sold much, so maybe others had the same experience. It is a unique blend of pink and white which I haven't seen much other than in the tropical hibiscus.

The rest of these tomorrow and then on to ??????

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hibiscus 'Plum Crazy'

I just love these hibiscus this time of year. This is 'Plum Crazy' which is a huge plant with huge flowers. If you haven't seen these up close, the blooms are close to dinner plate size. They're just a wonderful addition to the garden this time of year when things are getting sort of tired looking and browning at the edges. These are crisp and fresh, though maybe a little wilty in the afternoon heat right now since we've had no rain for 3 weeks. The color on this one is hard to pin down in a photograph, as are all of the flowers with lavender/blue/purple blooms. I have 3 pictures of it in my files and none are really true. A bloom in the shade seems to photograph best, though since these are full sun plants, that's not always to easy to do. The middle photo probably shows the purple best, though the bottom one shows the eye better. They are from different sources and do differ slightly. The texture is like crepe paper when you look at it, but quite substantial really. A short post this morning since I need to get out and spread some mulch before it gets hot.

Friday, August 22, 2008


No picture today since I wasn't successful at getting one of these guys to stay still. I also have a very strong impulse to smash them when they do sit still. Gardening here in August sometimes become extremely frustrating since I spend more time swatting at these guys than actually pulling weeds. I sometimes get to the point that I just would rather sit on the enclosed porch and read a good book than have to deal with these guys. There are many different variation on these pests, but from Wikipedia I have found out that only the females bite because they need a blood mean for reproduction. Mammal blood is their favorite. Males don't even have the mouth parts to do this. Wish I could tell them apart so I'd know which ones to swat, though I would guess that the only ones landing on me are the females who are after my blood. They all feed on nectar and pollen, though I haven't observed this in the garden.
These guys have big eyes and find their prey by sight, hanging out in the shade and just waiting . Unlike insects which surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, horse flies have mandibles like tiny serrated scimitars, which they use to rip and/or slice flesh apart. This causes the blood to seep out as the horsefly licks it up. They may even carve a chunk completely out of the victim, to be digested at leisure.
Lovely creatures. If you need to know more, widipedia has stuff about reproduction and lots of links.
I carry a fly swatter any time I'm in the garden this time of year. Waving it around seems to make them go away temporarily, though they always return in a few minutes. It also gives me something to swat me with. Hank just uses his hat since he thinks that works better. I have a bad habit of setting the flyswatter down and forgetting where I put it, so the other day at the hardware store when I saw a dayglow orange fly swatter I just snapped it up. Hopefully that will keep it more handy.
Today's job, in addition to pulling the ever present weeds is to put a second coat of paint on the side and front porches. I figured with this lack of rain it was a good time to get that done. And with no leaves falling yet I wouldn't have to worry about that either. Just had to pick a few bugs out of the paint yesterday. Now if only the horseflied would investigate it and get stuck, that might be especially nice.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hibiscus grandiflorus

Hibiscus grandiflorus is native to the southern United States. Though one would know it as a hibiscus, it is very different in several ways from the others. First, it is a very late bloomer. Unless we have a late frost, it usually hasn't bloomed before cold weather. We have managed to get bloom the past 2 years. Maybe it's just that the plant is older, but it still doesn't start blooming until long after most of the others have long finished. The main difference one notices right away, though, is the leaves. Rather than being just green, these are a grey/green and have a velvety texture. They're the kind of thing you just have to touch. I've seen it called the 'toilet paper hibiscus'. The height is about 6 feet with a spread almost that much, so it isn't a small thing, though definitely smaller than some of the monsters we grow. It is in a dryish place unlike others that are growing in more boggy conditions.
The blooms are more typically hibiscus than the leaves. They come out light pink and fade to white and are about 6 inches across. It blooms on new wood. A bit about these hibiscus. Unlike Hibiscus syriacus that I've been writing about that is a shrub, these are definitely
herbaceous perennials. They die to the ground (at least here in zone 6) each year and produce all new growth in the spring. We cut back the old stems over the winter. I could do it in the fall, but fall is usually so busy that it just doesn't get done. Besides, I'm always looking for something to do outside in the winter on any day that it's not absolutely freezing. I guess that's the thing about crazy gardeners - they just need to be outside. I get crazy if I'm stuck in the house for too long. Of course, that's not a problem this time of year. I've been updating the website with all of the new pictures that I took this summer (over 5000 of them). The past few afternoons while it has been hot I've been working on the daylilies. I'm up to 'F' so far. I had quite a few that needed to be replaced since the jpg photos had degraded and the colors had turned weird. Others were taken just as a baseline for identification and needed prettier ones. If you're bored this afternoon, take a look.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fall Flowers

You can definitely tell that fall is coming. The garden mostly looks tired, at least in the sunny spots. The shade gardens still look lovely with their dappled light and many shades of green (just overlook the missing leaves where the deer have had a snack). The daylily and peony foliage is browning around the edges as is to be expected in August with no rain, but there are a few bright spots, even in the sun. The picture above is Rudbeckia 'Goldtrurm', Hibiscus 'Raspberry Rose' and one poor daylily with an unnamed pine. In the background is Berberis 'Silver Mule'. These are at the edge of the upper pond, and so probably benefit from that location waterwise. I think tomorrow I'll get on with the 'other' hibiscus, those that are not syriacus and which die to the ground here in the winter.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I really love these flowers and wish I lived just a little farther south so I could grow more of them. I only know of two that are reliably hardy here. I couldn't remember their real name this morning so I figured I could google 'naked ladies' which is what everyone calls them since their leaves appear in the spring and then disappear with the first hint of hot weather. Mid August, seemingly overnight, the 2 foot tall bloomscapes shoot up and the flowers are suddenly there where yesterday there was nothing. Anyway, googling 'naked ladies' gets you over 2 million hits, very few of which are botanical, so I waited until I had time to check some catalogs to find their true Latin names.
This first is Lycoris squamigera, the most common one around here. There is even a guy at our farmer's market who sells the bulbs. Ours were here before we were, so we assume they were Mrs. Rhoric's like the old daffodils, though they might pre-date her time here in the 40s. Not likely they were planted after that since the place was a rental or empty for a number of years until Hank bought it in the early 70s. Obviously they are long lived and form nice sized clump over the years. You see them everywhere this time of year, all over the county, all seeming to have come up on the same day.

The second one we grow is newer to us. We tried it a few years ago, but the place where it was living got too shady and it disappeared. We got 5 bulbs this spring from Brent and Becky's Bulbs and 4 of them have bloomed, despite this mini-drought we're having. The color changes day by day and varies between pinks, blues and lavenders, sometimes all of them on the same flower. Quite unusual. They seem to be a bit smaller than the pink ones above and a bit more delicate.
Fot those in warmer climates, there are also ones with red, yellow or white flowers, probably more, but they are mostly for zones 8 to 10, places where it is just too hot for me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hibiscus syriacus - Variegated Foliage

There are a few Rose of Sharons, or is that Roses of Sharon???, that have variegated foliage. This first one we have always called 'Athens' because the original plant was found near here in Athens Ohio. It will have varying amounts of variegation from year to year and always has some all green stems. We just prune them out. The flowers are white with a red eye. It is definitely a showy plant and the variegated one that we grow with the most white.

This next one is 'Miss Jilene. We thought it was relatively new, but when I was looking for something else, I came across a receipt for one we bought back in 1996 from Mellingers who are no longer in business. This is a rather confusing plant, at least the nomenclature. This one has a wide white/cream margin and some all white leaves. We have others that are a more blue green with a think white edge. It has also been called variously Hillis Variegated, Miss Jilene and Hillis Variegated Miss Jilene. Not matter what the name, it is a really pretty plant and seems to be slow growing compared to the species. After 4 years or so our largest one is only about 3 feet tall.

Here is the bloom on Miss Jilene. Some show more pink and some are more double. Yet another problem with identifying this one. You can see how pink the buds are.
This is Hibiscus purpuratus (purpurea) Variegata. It is a different species though I have seen it listed incorrectly as syriacus purpuratus. It is more upright with smaller leaves and is more sensitive to cold. We don't seem to be able to keep one alive here for more than 5 or 6 years. The flowers are so double that they never open and look like raspberries.

All of these, like the others, like full sun and ample moisture. Tomorrow we're off to something else to be determined by my walking through the garden this morning. Fall things are starting to bloom, though the garden is starting to look tired, like it is getting towards fall, with some brown edges on leaves and even some things going dormant. Until a few weeks ago we had quite ample rainfall, but now it is very dry and we're running sprinklers every night. So many things depend on summer rain to set buds for next year that rain in July and August is important as much for the following season as this one. Weeding and mulching continue, at least in the mornings and some dividing, digging and potting. Running out of things to do with this size garden just isn't going to happen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hosta Plantaginea

Glad to be back after some ISP problems. Not sure what their exact problem was, but I decided that with a maximum connection speed of 12 Kbps, anything past reading essential email would just have to wait.
Today I'll depart from my Hibiscus posts to feature Hosta Plantaginea. I don't seem to write about hostas much, though they are my main collecting obsession and have been for many years. I don't know of any other hosta associated with a feast day, but this one is called variously Plantaginea, August Lily (because it blooms in August - what original naming!), or Assumtion Lily. This one has the distinction of almost always blooming on August 15th which is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and therefore named after Her feast day. How perfect with its large pure white flowers. These are probably among the largest flowers of any hosta and there aren't any that can compare with the sweet scent which fills the yard this time of year. I have at least one that will be in bloom today, others that might be, though they're in deep shade and often a little slower. If you have other hostas with scented flowers, Plantaginea is most likely in its parentage.
I dug/pulled out a patch of bamboo that had gotten somewhat out of control. I wasn't a tall one, just about 3 feets, but it had crept into another bed and out into a path. Quite a big job, but I'm so pleased with the results. I replanted it with shade plants - hostas, ferns, heucheras, pulmonaria, brunnera, and ligularia (or whatever they're calling that one now - don't get me started on changing names on plants we all know by another name). Yesterday I fought off the horse flies and hauled composted chopped leaves to use as mulch. It looks so nice compared to what was there before. I may just rip out the rest of the bamboo there (I have some more in a place where it can do as it pleases) and replant the whole bed. A cool day would be better than trying to do it today, but who knows. You're all gardeners and you know that when an idea strikes you just have to get started with it. Pictures when I get it all finished.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hibiscus syriacus - Doubles

When I first discovered Rose of Sharon, I had no idea of the variety that were available. I just dug up some seedlings from my down the road neighbor Elaine's garden. The doubles have been around for quite awhile, I expect, but I have only grown them for about 10 years. There are named ones out there, but these, except for the last which is my own seedling, were just bought by color.
The first is a double lavender which is growning next to our outhouse. It is in quite a bit of shade so it probably doesn't bloom as much as it might otherwise.

This one is a dark pink or mauve, depending on the light. It has gotten quite tall, probably about 12 feet and will be pruned heavily this year. You can see that the flowers are all near the top this year because to take one the only thing behind it is the sky.
This pink grows in a small row of shrubs in front of a large stand of bamboo.

This is a lighter pink. Most of these doubles seem to have a splotch of color at the center of the back petals. The previous ones were more like true doubles while this one and the next are more like singles with a 'puff' in the center.

This last is my own seedling which I call 'Raspberry Fluff'. It grows at the back of the gardens near the bog. I expect it grows so well because it gets plenty of moisture from seeps and springs in all but the most extreme dry weather. Rose of Sharon seem to grow in almost any conditions from shady to sunny and wet to dry, but will give the best flowering show in full sun. Don't be afraid to prune them heavily - just be sure to do it right after flowering so you don't cut back on flowering for the next season.
One more day of Rose of Sharon tomorrow - those with variegated leaves.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Green Tree Frog

I am nothing if not easily distracted. Back to Hibiscus tomorrow. This is a very tiny tree frog I came across yesterday afternoon sunning him/her self on the handle of a watering can which was sitting in a bucket of water. This guy and a friend could have both easily fit on a dime. I haven't gotten out my frog book to look him up yet, but I think he might be my elusive Spring Peeper that I have been trying to see/photograph for years. I love the tree frogs because, besides singing their little hearts out with a noise all out of proportion to their size, they have such cute feet with their 'suction cup' toes. He seemed totally oblivious to me since I looked at him for awhile and then went inside to get my camera and came back to find him in exactly the same place. The bullfrogs are singing a lot right now. We have them in three of the ponds. We bought a couple of bullfrog tadpoles years ago to put in the largest pond. I think we moved tadpoles around with waterlily pots to get them to the other ponds since I don't think the bullfrogs traveled all through the garden and across the bridge to get to Lake Amanda. I also came across my first baby toad of the year yesterday. It must have just been that sort of day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hibiscus syriacus - more Rose of Sharon

I realized after the last post that I probably shouldn't assume you all knew what I was talking about when I mentioned the old fashioned Rose of Sharon, so I went out and took some pictures. The first is probably the most common color, a nice lavender. There may be a named variety of this one, but if there is, I don't know it. It is the one that seems to get shared around (that's how I got my first one) and seeds prolifically. As long as you get the seedlings out when they're tiny, it's no problem. Let one get a foot tall, hidden in some nearby foliage, and you'll have quite a tug to get it removed.

This one is probably the next most common one, the white with a red eye, also unnamed as far as I know.
This last one turned up as a seedling here and is pure white with no eye. I haven't seen one like it in catalogs, so I may propagate it when I have time. The flowers are a bit smaller, but there are lots of them.

Cool weather today so lots of weeding will get done. A few more days of this and we just might get caught up.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hibiscus syriacus - Rose of Sharon

These are the old fashioned Rose of Sharon - the ones that pretty as they are, do seed all over the place. I've solved that problem, at least in part, by cutting off seed pods before they mature. That's probably better for the plant anyway, since maturing seeds does take some energy that could be used for something else.
This first one is Blue Satin. It is supposed to be an improvement over the older one, Bluebird, but the color seems to vary year by year according to the weather and some years one is better, some years the other and some years both just look lavender like the old ones. The other old one I have here is a white with a red eye, which as far as I know isn't named and is always just called 'the white on with a red eye'.

This is Bluebird. The difference in color from Blue Satin can be as much due to the camera and internet browser as the flowers themselves. All of these seem to stay under 8 feet tall in the sun, a little taller in the shade, but put them in sun since they seem to like it better. No fragrance on the flowers as far as I can tell, but since they seem to be constantly hosting those small bumblebees, I don't get my nose all that close anyway.

This is 'Rose Satin', introduced with 'Blue Satin' a few years ago. I think there might be another too, in addition to the doubles which I'll do tomorrow. This flower is about the same size as the 2 previous ones, maybe 3 inches across.

This is 'Aphrodite' which is a slightly lighter pink, a slightly smaller, wider bush, and a slightly wider flower at maybe up to 6 inches across. I think it is a clearer pink, also.

These aren't fancy or cutting edge, but they are dependable and bring a lot of color to the garden. Not especially good as cut flowers since each bloom doesn't last that many days, I do use them, removing the old blooms each morning to keep the bouquet fresh. They're low maintenance since once established they don't seem to require any supplemental watering except in severe drought and never need pruning unless you want to limit their size. If you do prune, do it right after bloom rather than in the spring since doing so in the spring will diminish bloom for that year.