Thursday, September 29, 2011

Summer's Success

I know that I have been MIA, but I have had a very busy couple of weeks. I collected my first set of essays, which required my focus and energy to grade. I then had a bit of writer's block. The days have been miserably hot for late September--90 degrees here just yesterday. A cold front is supposed to be moving through today cooling things off. My fall bulbs should be arriving soon, so gardening hasn't quite ceased yet. To wind down the summer garden, here are my best performers for this season.

The giant Allium Christophii purchased from White Flower Farms online catalog. Planted last fall, she was a star performer in the garden. 

New this spring because I just could not resist the color, Monarda Raspberry aka Raspberry Wine Bee Balm purchased at Bath Nursery, Ft. Collins The young lady stole my heart with her deep magenta color. Even her deep green leaves have a touch of pink in them. She bloomed all summer long, not even growing faint in the 90+ degrees for most of August, unlike her companion pholx. I planted pink pholx and a raspberry delight cone flower around her, so next summer there should be a lovely pink voice in the center circle.

 Kniphofia uvaria, or Red Hot Poker, was transplanted from the old garden. A neighbor had given me a clump which I separated when I moved it to the Garden Spot. This was her best year. Her tall spears are just so grand, but they are not long lived.

Need a splash of red? Crocosmia, Crocosmiflora Lucifer, heats up a dull spot in the garden. Not only colorful, she seemed to adapt well to what I consider harsh growing conditions: crummy clay soil and miserable heat. I purchased her at Ft. Collins Nursery late last summer, again attracted to her brilliant red star shaped flowers. I've added one more to the center circle this summer. I love how her blooms start out on long slender stalks then gradually open. The blooms last for weeks and attract the tiger swallow tail butterfly.

My prized water lilies had to leave their beautiful water garden at the old house only to have live in horse tank for yet another year. I blogged about separating and replanting them and they have thrived even to bloomed in their confined tank. We did get the little water garden in the courtyard installed, so I moved a couple lilies there where they have done quite well. We will drain the little pond the end of October and the girls will return to the horse tank for their winter's nap. Hopefully next spring we get our main water feature, a 1,000 gallon pond, built.

I love love love pink flowers. Gertrude Jekyll, my only David Austin, has done so well this year. My roses suffered early in the season with an invasion of aphids. My horticulturist daughter said to use Bayers Rose food with a systemic pesticide. The roses have thrived and are at their peak of blooming now.  I love the Clematas Texensis so much that I purchased another one late this summer. They are both in my courtyard where they will grown over the brick wall. The one I planted last year has done so well, trailing over the wall for all to enjoy. Finally, the oriental lily--I've forgotten the variety--ordered from White Flower Farms was glorious. I planted 3, only regretting that I didn't clump them together. One bloom went to the Ault Fall Festival. I thought she was such a spectacular bloom that I had (all allusions aside) hopes that she would have performed better, but the judge thought not. I don't really care, I loved her.

We planted our North Star Dwarf cherry tree last summer, watered her during the winter, and prayed that she would survive the cold, dry winter. Not only did she survive, but she had fruit. Not many, but enough for a bowl full of cherries. She had a bad case of hunch back, so we have now staked her, hoping that her main stem will straighten. She is planted just outside of the master bath window where I can keep a close eye on her. As her fruit began to ripen, one morning I saw the robins and the western king birds lined up on the corral fence waiting their turn to grab a cherry. Still in my night gown, I dug out the wedding tulle and gently wrapped her to keep the birds away. 

We had our failures too: Diseased tomatoes and a cheap rose that I bought at Home Depot refused to even try to like her new home. I guess she preferred her plastic pot in an asphalt garden to her new home in a garden of love. Beats me why she failed to thrive. I bought two Home Depot roses. One thrives, one just gives up. The hydrangea my daughter bought for me struggles to stay alive. Of course, the bloody heat this late in the season isn't helping.

All in all, it wasn't a bad gardening year. Yesterday, though, I noticed that one of the big ponderosa pine trees is turning brown, not just a bit here and there, but a rather large amount of brown. It is one of three that the previous owner planted in the center circle and to lose one will destroy the balance, so I guess we call the tree doctor. We already had our trees inspected for the pine beetle that has kills hundreds of thousands of acres pine trees in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, so we really don't know what could be wrong.

So what were your garden successes? What plants performed the best for you? What should I try next year for zone 5?


  1. What a great post! You really had a plethora of lovely blooms this summer. I love the red hot poker and the pink roses are just gorgeous. Everything else is, too. Those water lilies...maybe I should just go buy a horse trough and have some here..if I put in a pond, I will get an alligator!

  2. You have many beautiful flowers and all captured very well. This is the first time that I'm seeing cone flowers. They are so beautiful. I'll wait to see how the whole bunch looks like with pink flowers in the center next year.

    My tomatoes are not doing well. Chillies of several varieties are much more productive.

  3. The water lilies and rose are 'picture perfect'. I'm jealous of your red hot poker as the one i bought has a few whips of green foilage but no sign of flowers (maybe next year it'll flower?). Your cherries look quite impressive too. Kelli

  4. I read this post with great attention to what does well in your garden, since we are going to eventually move to a zone 5 garden. Hot summers, and cold winters. There are a few plants that are going on my mental "got to have" list. Especially that Monardia. I did grow some from seed, they are lovely, but our damp summers in White Rock make them mouldy.

    Ann, thank you for such a kind comment, you know sometimes those posts come out of nowhere and then I wonder "what was I thinking." While it is nice to write from the heart, sometimes the brain takes over and tells the heart, whoops.

    It's so good to know that no matter what the brain says, the heart should speak.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  5. Wow your garden is fabulous! I love all the shapes and colors.

  6. We had way more than usual volunteer annuals this year so I expect even more next year. We made seed packets with amaranthus 'caudatus' for wedding favors (along with sparklers, apples and candy). That does a fine job of "planting" itself every year. As for what you should try next year, I would definitely recommend Hungarian Blue poppies from Botanical Interests- beautiful and supposedly self-sow like crazy. I'm looking forward to finding them all over next year!

  7. I had a lot of failures this year, and we did also have an extra hot summer. My Green Envy coneflowers were a big star, that's for sure. Love them!