Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Idle Early Summer Garden Chatter

Tonight I just thought I'd give a preview of Coneflowers to come because they're really starting to pop into bloom all around the garden. I took these two particular shots in the back corner flower bed (the savage --truly-- one) where they grow in amongst the Bee Balm. I never tire of photographing Coneflowers, because they're fascinating at nearly every step of the bloom cycle, even when the plants have died back and have lovely little 'Snow Cones' atop them in December and January (and February, and on...) And though I've probably taken hundreds of shots of the cones (with and without bees), I am still thrilled when I get a really crisp image, with all its orange and yellow gradations of color ...This second shot I just had to take, because early on, Coneflowers sure can assume some rather otherworldly poses at times, thus my whim to shoot down on this flower to accentuate that a wee bit. I've always marveled at how green they are to start, and how much the shades of the flowers change over the bloom cycle. We have a few plants who do this to some extent (Butterfly Weed, for example), but the one I really like (but don't have this year) is Lantana, who goes through some simply amazing color changes as it blooms. I almost envy those folks in Arizona who can grow Lantana the size of shrubs! But then, I'd have to live in Arizona, and I'd rather stay here in Iowa, even with our snows and floods.

Ok, you might have started wondering what this third shot is all about ... for those of you who saw the recent Smoke Bomb series, this is the tail end of the show ... I was hoping to catch those rays of sun, because speaking of otherworldly, that was definitely a unique perspective for a few minutes.

But the real reason I wanted to share this shot is because it captures the Eryngium, Miss Wilmot's Ghost engaged in some serious garden acts of profligate abandon ... and, as I've mentioned, it's gotten a bit out of hand this year, so I (regretfully and apologetically) had to just pull quite a few (6 or 7) to make space for other plants and re-introduce at least a bit of decorum to this particular spot out front. In fact, I've been working on a post about the changes we made last weekend with the weeding and new planting, but I haven't gotten the "after" shots to compare to before we got down to work.

Now, lest I be scaring off potential Eryngium growers, I'd like to emphasize that it is not an invasive plant. It's just overly exuberant this year and needed some serious thinning out, not just for the convenience of having more planting space, but for the general welfare of the plants themselves. When they get too profuse in too small a space, like most plants they will tend to be spindly, leggy and unable to reach their natural height (about 30-36 inches). This is for the betterment of the colony, I kept telling myself ....

What really hurt my plant feelings was having to pull two beautiful, foot tall blooming volunteers of Rue (Ruta graveolens). We tried all Spring to find homes for these two, who were growing closely together and totally shading out my struggling Maltese Cross plant, so they had to go. We had no takers, so out they went on Sunday, destined for the City Compost. Two more plants I extended apologies to as I was clearing out the rampant weeds we had come up after those recent heavy rains. I also pulled all the spent Pink Peony Poppies because they too had run rampant, and though I appreciate a few in this space, they were out of control this year. They also got a ticket to the compost ... as did a couple of wheelbarrows full of various and sundry weeds. My muscles are still aching from all that yanking and digging I did over the weekend, but it was really satisfying to get a good start on bringing less chaos and more color to the front Boulder Beds! Now, once I can get the rest of those perennials in, I'll breathe quite a bit easier because that will be the end of the new acquisitions for the year! Oh boy ... then I'll be able to focus entirely on pulling weeds for the rest of the summer! (And more time to take photos of what's going on in the garden, flower and critter wise!)


Gail said...


I love the 'over exuberant' phrase...too funny and true about some plants....some are just thugs.

Thank you for putting into words how I feel about coneflowers. I love them in all their growing stages. There is something about their bristle cones that I want to rub them and do, just a quirk on my part. They are bee magnets and look delicious with the monarda, another bee magnet.

Speaking of monarda I planted a variety called Marshall's Delight. It is said to be mildew resistance. Have you this one? I love the color and there are dozens of pollinators on each plant.

I hear thunder...and am hoping it means rain here and not a few miles away.


boran2 said...

IVG, That last shot looks like fog or morning mist, not a man-made effect. Nicely done photography.

I have no coneflowers but have admired them many times.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
I would have never suspected you have an affection for coneflowers, lol. But I have to agree with you, for a simple prairie native gone to town, they can be really spectacular, especially at the height of their blooming.

I doubt we have Marshall's Delight, and in fact I've long forgotten what this variety is! It was one of the first plants we started with 9 years ago, thus the spread of it around the garden. But we have given quite a bit away over those years as well. I also have a later blooming purple variety (called 'Blue Stocking') that should be gearing up soon, and sort of kicks in when the red is done.

I hope you got rain! We got some nice rains the other night just in time to quench the plants' thirst!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Mist,eh? LOL, I just put the camera on continuous shooting mode and took a whole series of the smoke bomb from beginning to end. :-)

Too bad about no coneflowers at your house! Stop by here next spring and we can send you home with lots of little ones! At this point, we're just pulling the seedlings (a shame) because they're so prolific.

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Speaking of Lantana! When we were in Mississippi, we saw BUSHES that were lantana! Complete with berries. Amazing. (I'm glad I'm in Iowa, too!)

I'm not "up" on my Rue... I have meadow rue. It's very different from your plant. It does reseed and it seems to pop up in odd places, but it's easily pulled.

You've been accomplishing a lot! Keep it up. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shady,
Aren't those big Lantanas wild? Probably a good thing for us that it's not hardy here, lol. BTW, nice lily-ful post you have up at your place.

Meadow Rue is a really different plant from what I know. The one we have is really a great plant, so I hated pulling those nice ones (wahh).

Thanks for the pep talk too :-) Actually both of us have gotten industrious when we have the time and energy. It's been a bit soggy for two days (but we needed the rain!), so haven't done much because it's been too hot. This weekend though, you're going to see some great before/after pics! When I get that all done ....