September 12, 2021 by IG

June and July 2021 Garden Journal — IG

If you’ve been following this series of garden journals, you may have noticed that I didn’t post one for June. I was rather dejected by my garden that month, the boisterous show of blooms was over, as expected. The foliage wasn’t looking as fresh and showing signs of insect damage. The feverfew was having its moment, but I had missed the right time to insert supports and it was laying prostrate over other plants and the lawn path. I didn’t think that my disappointment would make for a fun read so I decided to hold off and make it part of the next post, hopefully accompanied by some more welcome July garden news to report.

June

We had a neighborhood yard sale. I put out a small hoard of leftover tomato plants and a battalion of the sedum army.

Yes, it hurt me to write geraniums when I meant pelargoniums, but since I didn’t want to perplex passers-by by using unfamiliar terms, I sacrificed botanical dignity for a chance to make money for more plants.

Nobody bought anything so I put up a FREE sign. Plants were immediately gone.

Baby birds in the hanging basket hatched.

Resting bird face. Photo by SpaceButler.

Feverfew flopped.

Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) grows to over three feet in my garden and isn’t able to support its own weight. Still, I love the white froth in the summer and the leaves stay green in the winter.

Roses finished blooming.

‘James Galway,’ but I call him Jimmy.

Clematis, penstemon, and digitalis were looking nice for a little while. Will need to get more of those plants to fill the June garden gap. I’d also like to sow more campanulas, they seem to have a longer bloom period, but, unfortunately, aren’t as bunny-proof as the aforementioned June bloomers.

Clockwise from top left: Penstemon ‘Cha Cha Lavender,’ a clematis planted by the previous homeowners, and Tanacetum parthenium ‘Snowball.’
Digitalis ‘Polkadot Polly.’
Campanula persicifolia ‘Alba,’ sown from seed one, or was it two? years ago finally bloomed.
The containers I planted up in late May still hadn’t quite filled in.

Violas still blooming, surrounding not-yet-spent daffodil foliage. Other planters are filled with pelargoniums, ornamental and edible salvias, marigolds, mint, thyme, and snapdragons.

July

June did have some pretty flowers, but they were sparse and the garden seemed tired to me. By the time July rolled around, I had gotten used to the tired look, and to be honest, almost stopped noticing the problem areas. My attention shifted to new growth. The tender salvias were growing taller and blooming. The agastaches I bought as plug size plants last year turned into robust three foot tall bee magnets. The dahlias I planted as tubers in the last days of May had put on a couple feet of growth by the end of July, and everything looked a little less empty.

Salvia hyb. ‘Amistad,’ Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' and dahlia foliage hiding somewhere in there.
Agastache ‘Black Adder.’
I bought three unidentified phlox plants on a whim several years ago. I didn’t think they’d make it through their first summer, with heavy fungal disease and die back. But somehow, the growing pains passed and the plants have given me beautiful blooms the last two Julys, with this year’s panicles looking fresh and floriferous for over a month.

The floppy feverfew had gone to seed. (Why did I let this happen? I’m going to have a lot of seedlings to pull.) It was way past time to cut back the yellowing foliage and I finally did, in some cases leaving the stalks as short stubs in order to rejuvenate the plants. The old growth had gotten surprisingly thick, almost woody, and an hour of pruning had left me with a blister. I made sure everybody knew of it, it seemed like an accomplishment...until I went back for round two of pruning, then it really hurt. The once neat edge of the bed was completely ruined where the feverfew had flopped and in some places, the bed looked worse after the clean up. In other areas, however, removing the mess revealed lovely self-sown nicotiana. Once again, these plants were flopped over, reaching for the light. I staked them as best I could and the (dead) grass path finally revealed itself.

Left: Nicotiana alata ‘Jasmine’ making an appearance through Tanacetum parthenium. Top right: I wouldn’t usually combine two such busy leaf patterns, but that’s all I had on hand so the Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Kong Rose' and Begonia rex-cultorum ‘Salsa’ got planted together in the planters flanking the step up to the front porch. Turns out, I don’t hate the combination. Bottom right: Nicotiana alata 'Lime Green' is wonderfully floriferous and comes back every year, either from seed or rhizomes, I’m not quite sure.

I hadn’t put my big new tomato cages around the grow bags holding the tomato plants, expecting to have to move the bags to make room for the tilling and amending we were expecting a landscaper to do. You might have guessed where this story is going: he kept delaying the work. And what did the tomatoes do? The same thing we do every night, Pinky most of my plants do, they flopped. The shishito peppers were producing well, but the alpine strawberries were taking a break.

First harvest of shishito peppers and ‘Brad’s Crazy Cherry’ tomatoes. Must get a basket, Pyrex isn’t cute.

By mid-July, the containers were finally filling in. I had placed them in groups around a bench in the empty, increasingly more weedy backyard to try to spruce it up while waiting for its overhaul. We used to have two large forsythia shrubs taking up this space, but had them removed to make room for a flower garden in the only full sun spot on our lot. Removing the forsythias had disturbed an apparently bottomless bank of weed seeds, but also a nice surprise of tomato seeds. We’re now in the second year of tomatoes coming up on their own. I don’t water them, I don’t fertilize them, I don’t stake them, and they’re generally healthy and very productive. As much as I look forward to having a flower garden in this area, I might actually miss the volunteer tomatoes.

The back planter had to be updated in July, as the weather became too hot for poor violas. The new arrangement contains mislabeled cannas (will they ever bloom and tell me what they are?) as well as leftover seed grown wall flowers (the seeds for which I suspect were also mislabeled) and very late planted dahlias. Some of the marigolds in another planter fell prey to wildlife and were replaced with agastache.
Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' bloomed through most of July but took a break at the end of the month.
Top row: Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph;' Pelargonium × hortorum ‘Maverick Appleblosson;’ not yet flowering dahlias under planted with Erigeron karvinskianus. Middle row: Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Velma Cox;’ Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Maverick Star;’ Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial.' Bottom row: Phlox drummondii ‘Twinkle Star’ mix; Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Maverick Star’ and Pelargonium ‘Pine;’ Heuchera 'Gojiberry.'

All photos except for birdies by IG.