African Garden + winter

Yes, There Actually are Things in Bloom in July

Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
It's arguably the most popular meme in garden blogging, this 15th of the month floral extravaganza hosted by the inimitable Carol, of May Dreams Gardens, where a list of all the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts may be found. Bloom Day is wonderful not just for getting inspiration from other gardeners, but also for comparing how one's own garden is faring. Last year was the perfect gardening year, so of course this year would suffer by comparison. Nevertheless, there are plants that failed to bloom this year, such as Heucheras 'Smoky Rose,' 'Lime Rickey' and 'Hollywood,' Astrantia 'Primadonna,' and Dicentra 'Candy Hearts' (which I believe is not "just resting"). The 90+F week without rain in June has caused the premature demise of blooms on several plants which were still in bloom last year on the 15th. And the unseasonable cool weather which followed the heat has delayed the blooming of other plants, such as Actaea racemosa. Even the Mophead Hydrangeas pale by comparison with last year, each with a single flowercluster. Welcome to normal.Most of the photos in this post are of groups of plants, so that the entire habit of the plants can be seen. (Click on any photo to enlarge.) This is particularly apt in the following photo, which shows one of the most difficult microclimates in the home garden, the edge of the asphalt driveway in full sun.

But the plants growing here, the native grass Prairie Dropseed (Sporabolus heteroleptsis), the annual Sweet Alyssum, and the native Ruellia humilis just shrug off the heat that would fry more delicate plants (such as the Platycodon described by Beth Botts at Growing in Chicago). The Prairie Dropseed is in full flower, while the Phlox pilosa 'Eco Happy Traveler' (seen below with Little Bluestem) is on the way out.

The other native prairie plants are just coming into bloom now.

This bed is filled with Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and Liatris, along with the non-native Allium sphaerocephalon. Just beyond them, not visible in the photo, is the native Allium cernuum, which was the subject of an excellent article in the current issue of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine written by Rose of Ramble On Rose.

It will start opening its pinkish-lavender flowers in a couple of days.
While I'm not wild about the pale pink color of this Aquilegia vulgaris, it's a keeper because of it's extremely long bloom time. It still has lots of buds, while the other Aquilegias have finished or are down to the last few blossoms.

July is the dullest month in the woodland garden, with the ephemerals starting to go dormant. The foliage of the native Celadine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) is starting to tatter from the dryness, as we've had less than a half an inch of rain so far this month,

but the plants are still churning out the blooms, albeit more slowly than in May.
With fewer things blooming, I rely on Daylilies to provide interest, even in the shade. 'Chosen Love' has fewer blooms than it would have in full sun, but the blooms hold their color better.

There are a couple of native shade lovers that manage to bloom reliably without any direct sunlight and in fairly dry soil. The showiest is Actaea racemosa, also known as Black Cohosh.

(Does anyone know what a Cohosh is? I also have Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), another woodland plant.) The Actaea is in bud and will have large, white flowers like pearls along the waving stalks. I have only the one plant, as I expected it to seed about. I must be pulling out the seedlings by mistake.The other plant makes a good substitute for a shrub.

This Aralia racemosa (Spikenard) is 4 feet wide and tall, although in moister soils it gets even bigger. This is not a woody plant, and dies back to the ground in winter. While the flowers aren't very exciting, it has marvelous, wine colored berries.
Dicentra 'Bountiful' is looking the worse for wear, clearly in need of more water than its been getting. The dryness doesn't seem to bother its companion here, Campanula persicifolia 'Telham Beauty.'

Up by the patio, under the Crabapple tree, Hemerocallis 'Siloam Merle Kent' has just started blooming. It's supposed to have orchid pink blooms, but in the sun and heat, they all too often fade to peach by the afternoon.

The above view is from the patio towards the woodland garden. Clematis 'Betty Corning' is still blooming, although not as profusely as in June. The Japanese Beetles prefer this Clematis's flowers above all others in the garden. Against the opposite corner of the chimney are Clematis 'Rhapsody' and Hydrangea macrophylla 'Claudie,' which is in bud. 'Claudie' is a Lacecap Hydrangea for the North, blooming on new wood. I planted it last year, and after the winter it appeared to have given up the ghost. All the stems were dead, but then it sent up new growth. I was shocked to see buds on it. In the raised bed is Hemerocallis 'Druid's Chant' blooming for the first time, and

Campanula 'Samantha.' Next to the raised bed is my poor, beleaugured Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen')

with Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine' at its feet, and Geranium 'Rozanne' climbing it.

On the arch (but not pictured), Clematises 'Evipo31' (Bonanza) and 'Madame Julia Correvon' have only a few blooms, while Clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' (below) is doing her thing.

Beyond the arch is the Astilbe I think is 'Veronica Klose,' with Hydrangea macrophylla 'Penny Mac.' Hydrangea 'Bailmer' (Endless Summer) is over there too, and is virtually indisguishable from 'Penny Mac,' right down to having only one flowerhead. To the left of the Astilbe is the all white Astrantia 'Rainbow' (so named, one must assume, because white is made up of all the colors of the rainbow). The Alchemilla are on the way out, but still have a bit of color to them.
Some flowers are best appreciated in the closeup, and this is the case with my mystery Phlox maculata,

and the mystery dwarf Hosta.

It's probably 'Golden Tiara' from my mom's garden. I found the plant languishing under the Yew, so I moved it to the long border, where the best Heuchera and Campanula grow.

Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice' and Campanula 'Sarastro' bloom together all summer and into the fall. 'Sarastro' isn't blooming as profusely as in June, but it is ready for another major flush.
Next to Hosta 'Winfield Gold' (in bud), is a container I stuffed into the border to cover the gap between the spring bulbs and the summer flowers. I can't believe that after a week of temperatures in the 90sF, the Pansies and Wallflowers are still going strong. I just assumed I'd have to replace them by now.

The strange foliage coming out of the container belongs to the couple of Gladiolus callianthus (Acidanthera) that the squirrels missed.
Just in time for Bloom Day is my favorite Hemerocallis in the garden, 'Little Grapette.'

I prefer the small flowered Daylilies because they don't look like a terrible mess if deadheading is neglected for a day or two. I have 'Little Grapette' planted in several places, this one is next to its much larger relative Hemerocallis 'Pink Lavender Appeal,' by the completely unphotogenic tap.
In front of the southern fence, Hosta 'Maui Buttercups' is in full bloom. It needs something to back it up, but for now I've got seedling Lilies from Fairegarden planted there. (Thanks, Frances!) Against the fence, Clematis 'Silver Moon' is having a wonderful year, still loaded with blooms and even more buds.

On the other side of the Heptacodium miconiodes, Astilbe 'Visions' is finishing up.

The lavender flower in the background is a mystery single Poppy.
Skipping back to the long border, just beyond the container of Pansies and Wallflowers,

Phlox paniculata 'Nicky' towers over Geranium 'Blogold' (Blue Sunrise), while Calycanthus floridus 'Athens' continues to churn out pale yellow, Juicy Fruit-scented blooms. (Thanks, Gail, for IDing the scent.)
Next to the Geranium, the lettuce 'Merlot' makes a stunning foliage accent for the Daylily 'Woodside Amethyst,' just opening in the morning sun.

I moved the blue container with Osteospermum, Coleus, and Iris aureomarginata in front of the obelisk, as it was being obscured by the Calycanthus.

On the other side of the Daylily are an Aquilegia with its last blooms, and the last blooms of Penstemon from Fairegarden.

And now, the piece de resistance -

the Black Peony Poppy (Papaver paeoniflorum) (with Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' again in puff stage). Obviously, it's not really black, more of a very dark, grape soda purple. (For those with RHS color charts, the closest one is 79A with edges of 71A.) It's huge, it lasts for days, and I grew it from seed. This more than makes up for the disappointments of the Zinnias and the Cosmos. What's blooming in your garden today?
In bloom but not pictured:Aquilegia 'Leprechaun Gold'Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge'Campanula perscifolia 'Alba'A very confused branch of the Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles sp.)Clematises 'Henryi,' 'Evisix' (Petit Faucon), 'Evipo31' (Bonanza), 'Madame Julia Correvon' and 'Venosa Violacea'Dracocephalum 'Fuji Blue'Geranium nodosum 'Svelte Lilac'Hemerocallis 'Pink Lavender Appeal,' 'Grape Velvet' and mystery big and yellowHostas 'Candy Hearts' and 'Olive Bailey Langdon'Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer' (Endless Summer)Lavender 'Hidcote'Malva 'Zebrinus'Verbena hastata? stricta?
Viola labridorica

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Yes, There Actually are Things in Bloom in July + winter