Monday, July 25, 2011

Allium sphaerocephalon

Allium sphaerocephalon, also called the Drumstick Allium, have been a great addition to our Driveway Garden for 4 years now.

I first wanted to grow them because I saw them everywhere in my reading on English gardens. In the UK, they are considered a garden staple apparently, and after growing them I can see why. They add cottage-charm to a boarder, looking good from their sprouting up in late May until they are cut down at the end of July. Their round, reddish-purple heads last for weeks. And best of all, they bloom while the garden is rebounding, after the old roses and before the high summer flowers have started (like purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea).
Photo from the Driveway Garden in June 2008
I love their green heads in May and June. They are a wonderful accent to all of the flowers in those months. Above is Allium sphaerocephalon with Geranium 'Orion' and Lavendula 'Hidcote'.

This year, Allium sphaerocephalon with Geranium 'Rozanne', both blooming above a carpet of Sedum 'Acre'.

They seem to come back quite well in well-drained, sunny areas. They are in the onion family, so the odor keeps animal pests away. But after four years, they are finally starting to look a bit thin. I will want to replant some this year if I want to keep them playing their role.

July 2009
You can see the mass of alliums hovering over the artemesia and below the purple coneflower. This photo was taken when our house was still white and rusted. I am so thankful for paint! (Thank you, honey!)

Photo from Driveway Garden in July 2009
In past years, Allium sphaerocephalon has made a great combination with the reseeding, brilliant orange California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). You can see them together right along the sidewalk path to the backyard. I think I will make a note to put out some more poppy seeds next year. They lasted three years here without a thought. 

One garden editing thought: They do lean as the heads bloom larger. Next time, I think I will plant them more in the middle of the boarder instead of the front. Though I love their see-through quality at the front in early summer, they rather flop later. Better to have some other plants to lean on.  

My last comment on this allium is that it needs to be planted in large groups. Do not bother planting a couple, and even ten is rather slim. Plant at least in groups of 25 bulbs, I would say. And plant multiple groups.

Read more about the Driveway Garden in July:
Geranium 'Orion'
Asiatic Lily 'Rosella’s Dream'
oh... and the pitiful flower

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Asiatic Lily 'Rosella’s Dream'

I added Asiatic Lily 'Rosella’s Dream' two years ago as a pink accent over the cloud of blue from Geranium 'Orion'. (I wrote about it just last week.)  

They have been a terrific pair at the top of the Driveway Garden. The geraniums start at the beginning of June and these lilies burst the last week of June.

 They are settled right around the new trellis from the spring.

Seen in front of the green garage door.
Lily 'Rosella's Dream' lasted for a couple of weeks. It was very hot and dry here and hardly a drop of rain. I just trimmed the tops off the lilies (now mid-July) to prevent them from using energy on seed making, but I left the stalks for their brilliant yellow foliage in the fall.

 View down the length of the Driveway Garden to the sidewalk.

More lilies to come this summer...
Oriental Lily 'Casa Blanca' will be blooming in this garden any day now. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hill Garden in July

The Hill Garden

The Hill Garden is at the front of our property by the driveway. It once was home to an old stump, but now is a hill of roses.

The Hill succession planting is coming along nicely this year. It started with the daffs in April, then the purple creeping phlox and tulips in May. There were some re-tooling weeks in June while the foliage held the scene together (see GBBD June), but soon it has burst again with Rosa 'The Fairy' and Leucanthemum superbum 'Becky' (also known as shasta daisies).  The silver of lamb's ears (Stachys byzantine) adds a needed lift to the color scheme in this area.

Rosa 'The Fairy'

 This rose has performed wonderfully for us. It is a very well-drained site. They re-bloom til Thanksgiving some years (see some photos from October 2010).  And sometimes even for the first snow! See my Fairy in the Snow photo from 2009.

I am loving the red-leaved cannas at the top of this bed this year. They seems to tie it all together, the greens of the perennials and the red of the barberry bushes.

The daisies were not as long lasting this year as I remember them being last year. Perhaps it was the lack of water this month (only 0.2 inches so far instead of the average 4 inches for July). But we enjoyed them while they lasted.  I just cut the dead blooms off last night (to above the second or third set of leaves) and may get a few to rebloom this month.

I did rather miss the mallow at the top. I think that I must have "chelsea chopped" them too late this year... or else they are just failing in the heat. See the mallows added to the Hill in 2010. Just gorgeous.

View down the entire front of the house, including the Front Woodland.
Thanks for coming in the heat for a walk around the Hill Garden.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Foliage Follow-up July 2011

So, I already started gushing about our green backyard yesterday.
Here on Foliage Follow-up Day with Pam at Digging, I find more room to sing its praise.

Our patio in July with our wonderful maple trees.
Great spot for reading, relaxing, eating chocolate desserts :)
We also really enjoy eating dinner and watching the birds come and go to the feeder.

Our mature tree canopy
For a glimpse of our mature trees, check out the Green Canopy video.

 Christmas Fern

Ivy balls in training
Thanks to Pam for hosting FFD! 
Check out the flowers at Gilmore Gardens from July GBBD yesterday.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day ~ July 2011

Welcome to the Mid-Summer edition of Gilmore Gardens!
After a week of rather intensive pruning and planting, the garden is ready for its start into high summer.

   The Cherry Corner garden is in its warm/hot stage, with a half-dozen different varieties of daylilies (Hemerocallis), and annual bedding filling in the front margin where the grape hyacinths began in the spring.  Heuchera 'Palace Purple' and Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander' both play the important role of grounding the daylilies, giving them a place to appear their best. Their mounded foliage also covers for the somewhat crazed fountain foliage of the Hemerocallis.
Double version of Hemerocallis fulva
Hemerocallis 'Autumn Minaret' is beautifully scented. Something like Lily of the Valley, to my nose anyway.
Unnamed red daylily
The first of the Rudebekia, Black-eyed Susans.
Close-up of Cherry Corner's annual planting.
View from Cherry Corner toward the Hill Garden
View over the Front Walk
 The Front Walk is getting its summer make-over. Red dahlias have been added already, as well as some annuals to fill in for the growing Japanese anemone plants. A few allium christophii heads still sparkle here as the nepeta is also finishing up its first bloom, awaiting a hair cut. Red-leaved cannas will soon be added. Red annuals by the front steps keep the hot colors going along the whole front of the house.
Rather a nice July 4th combination: Allium christophii, Nepeta 'Walker's Low' and red dahlias.
From the front steps to Cherry Corner.
View from Cherry Corner to the Shade Path
When transitioning from the hot summer bedding to toward the cool green backyard, the Shade Path is a good intermediary step.

The Shade Path has had its foxglove cleaning for the year, moving on to its next display.  After a few years of not being happy with the summer bedding here, I decided to try two shades of pink this year. Darked-leaved begonias with a light pink flower and magenta impatients go well with the light purple Hosta flowers. I prefer to plant my annuals in large groups or swaths, instead of in a row.
Hydrangea quercifolia blooming in front of Hostas
Close-up of Hosta, Impatients and Begonias. Japanese forest grass Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' at left.
View from the sidewalk toward the back yard. Clematis 'Lil Nell' on the gate.
Hydrangea quercifolia
White variegated Hosta and hardy ivy by the back steps.
Clematis 'Lil Nell' seed pods on the gate.
Now on to the real business of July: relaxing! What would a garden be without a green place to rest in on a hot summer's day? This is our little outdoor living room for the summer. Sometimes it has a baby pool and sprinkler, sometimes just a hammock and some library books. Having dessert by the fountain is my personal favorite. And anything is better with a few flowers!
Gerbera daisy in the pot with an asparagus fern. An overwintering success story! (Finally!!)
Thalictrum pubescens (or a meadow rue very similar) in our Back Woodland.
Geranium 'Rozanne' in the Driveway garden.
 Hope you find a cool spot to enjoy this July!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting GBBD!

See more of Gilmore Gardens: 
The Hill Garden in July (Roses!)
Foliage Follow-up for July (More green spaces)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July Scenes from the Front Woodland

The Front Woodland is in the sidewalk strip at Gilmore Gardens. It is just a couple of years old, but is filling out quite nicely this year. It has progressed from the daffodils of April, to the foxgloves and irises of May/June, to the daylily display of July.

A baby tulip tree can be seen sprouting up in the middle of the daylilies (above), which will give shade and balance our tall house when the old maples are gone.
These daylilies have all grown from one large clump that came from my husband's childhood home. They are the common orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) which you may see along country roads at this time of year. 

Here they are planted with Hemerocallis 'Stella d' Oro' and across the sidewalk from the blue catmint, Nepeta 'Walker's Low'.

I like the combination of colors here more this year than I did last year. Last year I was ready to rip out this whole lot of orange flowers. I guess I have stretch my color boundaries, especially in not minding that a few pink geranium flowers pop up in this area from time to time!

It makes for a much nicer walk along the sidewalk, anyway. Quite colorful.

Geranium 'Orion'

   Four years ago when I started to lay out the bed which would become the Driveway Garden, I knew that I wanted to have some blue geraniums. They would contrast with the light pink old rose, which was the only pre-existing plant in the area and therefore my first building block in the design.

I had always loved 'Johnson's Blue' (of Hidcote fame) while I worked at the garden nursery. I inquired about it first there, but was told that its sucessor was now available instead, Geranium 'Orion'. So our introduction was made.

I have loved this plant, firstly for its fast growth. I bought one pot that first fall, divided it into three parts and planted each. They were small to medium sized that first year, but every year since they have spilled at least a foot out of the bed with bouquets of blue flowers. I do not mind its sprawling nature in this situation, though perhaps it might not be as mounded as another gardener might wish.
G. 'Orion' in front of the chartreuse glow of Sedum 'Acre'
Secondly, I love it for its two months of flowering. Once the majority of the flowers are finished, as with most geraniums, it benefits from being cut to the ground. That usually happens around mid-July in our Zone 5 area. This rids the area of the remains, and allows for the base of the plant to send up new leaves that keep looking fresh all the way into the late fall. It's leaves are nicely dissected.

Look closely...
Little buggy enjoying the view from a blossom.
Thirdly, I love it for its wonderful fall color. It competes with the burning bush to see who can produce the most vibrant leaves. The red foliage color is a real boost to the Driveway garden as the Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and asters are just beginning to wind down in November.

Perhaps G. 'Orion' will shine brightly in your garden also. Give it sun, a little mulch and let it loose.
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