Outdoors, it definitely FEELS like July, or maybe even the hot, hot days of August! The melons, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are springing into action with pounds of fruit setting on and vines climbing to the moon. But it’s the flower gardens that I want to talk about today. The variegated Dames Rocket’s (Hesperis matronalis) delicate, fragrant white blooms add just what’s needed to an area that is largely foliage right now. Half of this plant bloomed earlier in the spring, but because the second half the plant was cut back to 3″ when it reached 10″ tall, it’s just blooming now. That’s a trick I learned from “The Well Tended Perennial Garden,” a book I return to year after year. (And, yes I know it’s classified as an invasive, but I don’t allow it to self-seed.) Soon the purple spikes of the Golden Jubilee anise hyssop will arise from its golden foliage, and delicate white “bells” will emerge on tall stems from the Autumn coral bells but for now this corner relies on foliage for most of its interest.
Around the corner of the potager’s exterior border, the first of many, many triple-flowered orange daylilies has opened. If you want a showy, but rampant spreader that grows in a wide range of conditions, this is the plant! I planted one in 2015 and it now covers a 6′ area! Some editing is in order when they are done blooming. I’ll be digging and potting several, hopefully for next year’s garden club sale since this year’s didn’t happen. It comes true from seed and also spreads underground.
I chose the “Las Vegas” series of hollyhocks for several reasons. First, they are A. ficifolia so they are hardier (Zone 3) and more perennial than A. rosea. They grow 5′, so a bit shorter than the usual, but that’s still tall enough for the border along the Lady Cottage wall. Happily, they bloom the first year from an early seeding. They are the old-fashioned singles, which I love. But the main reason they were selected is for the color range: there’s the usual red, rose and pinks (which I will be editing out, of course!) but also white through cream, yellow, apricot and copper to chestnut brown! And, they make a good cut flower! The first to bloom is pure white, and I’m happy with that against the Lady Cottage wood, and they look festive with all the “Chim Chimnee” rudbeckias there. I can’t wait to see if I get some of the more elusive colors.
We were supposed to be in the south of France, in Nice today and then after a few lazy days, on to a country home near Dijon to be joined by our children and grandchildren for a grand holiday together. Of course, that’s not happening so I’ll have to be content with my own lavender field. It’s looking lovely with all the lavenders in full bloom, and the lavandin buds (right side, more in the background) beginning to show color, too. Since the slope is on the south, the prevalent west winds carry the fragrance into the potager and also up to the deck at the house. It’s a lovely reminder of being in France, but no substitute for seeing the family! It would help if it came with a French chef, but maybe I can do a few French-inspired recipes with all the produce coming in from the potager. Oh, and that “mystery” squash turned out to be a “Ronde de Nice” so that will be an authentic French ingredient. Oh, yeah! Life could be a lot worse! Count my blessings…un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six…..