The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year when rainfall is at its lowest levels and temperatures soar. Humans and animals, not to mention the garden plants are at the end of their rope, hanging on by their last sweaty nerve. But fear not, dear readers! There are still blooms galore for this steaming month of July, plenty to share in the monthly celebration invented by friend Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Let us begin, shall we? First up is the annual sunflower, Helianthus annuus ‘Evening Sun’ one colorway from a mixture of seeds from Baker Creek.
Orienpet Lilium ‘Robert Swanson’ has risen to new heights this year. Don’t be fooled by the lack of stature the first few years of these and other tall lilies. Believe the statistics given online, these are tall drinks of water and need staking.
Sold as Chinese Trumpet Lilium ‘Lady Alice’, it is believed that the bulbs must have been seed grown and this one reverted to the parent Lilium ‘Henryii’, which is fine by us. Henry is one of the finest lilies around, a very heavy producer of numerous blooms.
These lilies were inherited with the property, Lilium tigrinum, Tiger Lily. We have pulled them all out in fears of a virus that some carry that will affect other lilies, but they keep coming back. Now, we simply leave them to grow and hope for the best. The hummingbirds adore the blooms of all the lilies, by the way.
In the hottest, driest, sunniest area of the Fairegarden, the Shed Bed, blackberry lily, Belamcanda chinensis is rising up to flower above the iris-like fans of pale green foliage. The entire plant is luscious and the seeds that form later will be black shiny jewels that give the common name credibility. These spotted and solid blooms are all children from one original plant, by the way. The cross pollination is notorious for these guys.
On the Daylily Hill, as every year, there has been frantic moving and dividing of plants, trying to get the mix to the level of pleasing. Extra watering is always needed when moving things at this horrible time of year to do so. Only a crazed gardener who throws caution to the wind on impulse would do such an unwise activity. Hemerocallis ‘Elegant Candy’ and Hosta ‘Sum And Substance’ have formed a vignette that reminds us of a moon backdrop to the classy flowers.
Returning for the third? year left over the winter inground in the raised box planter is Dahlia ‘Gallery Cobra’. There were several Dahlias planted at the same time in this space, all perished except this shorter orangey museum piece. If for one second it was believed that this cultivar is somehow more hardy than the rest, we would order more, many more. But we don’t want to jinx it by being greedy.
Volunteer seedlings appear all over the gravel paths here, and seem to be stronger and more hardy than the human handled plantings. Annuals Perilla frutescens and Nigella damascena are allowed to grow where they appear unless they are totally blocking the pathway.
Back in black, Salvia coccinea in the Knot Garden is another volunteer that is reliable annually. There has been selection of the black calyx sorts, with all green ones culled over many years so that now most are black. We find that color to be quite mysterious and alluring.
The seedheads of most volunteer Datura metel are plucked away, or we would be awash in these very large growing plants. But we do want a few. Closing at daylight, opening at night for moth pollination, there is a sinister quality to the structure of bloom, leaf, seed and stem, much loved and admired, here.
Happily, the Cuphea ‘Purple Passion’ grown in 2010 from seed started in the greenhouse and planted out in spring and left standing all winter, seeded about the area with no work on the part of the gardener. That fits in with the philosophy here of keeping it simple. The placement is not what we would have chosen, but several healthy plants are offering their wares to hummingbirds and other pollinators.
Waterlily Nymphaea ‘Helvola’ blooms sparsely in the pond as the surrounding trees have grown over the years providing ever more shade. Some branch trimming of nearby trees has resulted in a flower this year, for which we are ever so grateful.
It seems that the powers that be have changed the name of calla lily ‘Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Naomi Campbell’ to simply ‘Naomi’. With a new record of three blooms this year, and possible babies lurking in the sheltered bed under the garage deck, she will remain Naomi Campbell to us. We don’t judge a plant by its namesake.