Sunday, August 15, 2010

August Blooms

I was just thinking it's been a while since we've walked around my garden together and it's even time for the August Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!


I have to start with this retro green and rusted lawn chair, which I found curbside. I struggled with at least five contortions before fitting it into my non-hatchback Focus. At one point it fell out of the trunk and was dragging on the road (I am not exaggerating)... and it hit my foot on one lift. But I'm stubborn and just knew it would make the perfect plant stand for my pot of elephant ears, ferns, and coleus.


I grew potatoes for the first time this year. I decided to use a storage tub (with holes drilled in the bottom), so I could fill it with composty goodness. You know they're ready to harvest when the foliage dies. I started them from seed potatoes, and they were ridiculously easy to grow and they tasted so good. And digging for the taters was fun — there's just something about sticking your arms elbow deep into a nice soil-compost mix and rooting around... aaaahhh!


Here's my second harvest of 'Bintje' potatoes. Nom nom nom!


I'd more or less given up getting eggplants this year, when I saw a tiny 2-inch fruit on August 8. Holla! I thought it was solely because, as Lisa put it, they were "abused as a seedling" (I left them in those small cell packs way too long before transplanting), but it turns out several others have reported their eggplants are late this year too (Ha! it's not all my fault!). We had a really heavy rainstorm and on August 14, the eggplant had tripled in size.


Tomatoes are looking a little small compared to everyone else's, but I don't have too much sun and the soil is bad here, despite improvements, so I'm glad to get even a few tomatoes per plant. They're all heirlooms and each plant is a different variety. I have another two tomatoes in the ground out of view, plus five more in containers. I just realized this whole shot, with my home-made compost bin and rain barrels, plus the random stuff I have set around to squelch weeds, makes this an excellent #uglygardens vignette.

I've saved my first tomato seeds of the season. Easy-to-follow tomato seed saving instructions, with photos, are here. This is my second year saving tomato seeds. I first used paper towels to dry the seeds in the final step, but the seeds really stuck to that. I then tried plain white paper and that worked a lot better. This year I found Colleen's instructions and I got some paper plates, which was genius. No sticking at all and much faster drying times.

The other thing I did differently this year was to wait for mold to form in the initial seed soaking. This fermentation step isn't necessary in terms of seed viability or vitality, but it makes the seed coating (gooey tomato gel) come off the seeds much more easily. Last year I skipped that step and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed in a sieve. That worked, too, but was a lot more work.


My cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum*) is only 5 feet tall, though they can get to 10 feet in optimal sun. I wrote a bit more about it here.


Look who I found on the cup plant blossom — the soldier beetle is not only a pollinator, but it eats aphids. I love beneficial insects. Plus, it's just so cute!


Despite my laziness in not having planted this nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum) since my friend gave it to me in {looks around furtively} early June, it's blooming and doing well!


I love the almost-ready-to-bloom buds of rough blazing star, Liatris aspera.

Big Bluestem

Love the turkey-foot shaped seed head of big bluestem grass, Andropogon gerardii.


I have several clumps of tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris), this one along the neighbor's fence.


Butterfly bush is bright and cheerful.


One of my many cultivar Viburnums. I love the berries. I do have a native arrowwood Viburnum, too. :)


I adore the buds of Japanese anemone. (All together now: "Noogie!")


Some of my Japanese anemone have already starting blooming.


The berries on this purple beautyberry shrub will turn bright, vivid, holla! violet in another month or so.


The front bed taken from the driveway, looking south. (Pinky says hi.)


The front bed along the house, taken from the porch facing south.


The front bed on the other side of the walkway, taken from the front porch looking west. (Say hi to Bizi** so she can ignore you!)


One of my favorite garden spots. I love the rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) paired with the Russian sage.


And that combo close up.

Mexican hat.


The sunflowers I sowed on July 4 are about a foot tall and look like they're getting buds!


The Mexican petunia Sweetbay sent back in May finally has a bloom!!


My first-ever rose 'Golden Wings' is blooming again since I pruned the dogwood, which was blocking her sun, waaaaay back.


Even though I cut my sneezeweed back over a foot in early July, it's blooming now. 'Mardi Gras' has long since finished, and now it's time for 'Moerheim Beauty'...


...and the native yellow Helenium autumnale. It's tall and makes a great screen for one of my rain barrels. (See how you can't see it?)


I just love it close up.


Bees love my dahlia 'Bonne Esperance.'


I'd say my one (and only) 'Uchiki Kuri' squash is ready.


The ironweed (Vernonia missurica) outside my front door is a good six feet tall. I've read it likes it wet, though I never water mine. I also read it can spread, but mine hasn't (though it is true I collect its seeds).


I love its vibrant purple flowers.

And that's about it for today. It's too humid and there are too many mosquitos. Let's go in and have some zucchini bread and lemonade.

* I'm marking native plants in this post by also giving their Latin name. (No Latin name = not a native plant.)

** Bizi is Fiona's nickname; Jimi is James' nickname. People often mention "all your cats" and as much as I'd love to be a crazy cat lady, I have just those two. It hit me that perhaps the nicknames were interpreted as individuals, esp. as Bizi isn't so obviously derived from Fiona.

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.


  1. Hallo Monica
    Du hast einen traumhaft schönen Garten! So natürlich und bunt. Die japanese anemonen sind bei uns ebenfalls kurz vor dem Aufblühen. Irgendwie ist der Herbst in diesem Jahr früh dran.... für mich viel zu früh. Mjami, der Kürbis sieht lecker aus!
    Liebe Grüsse

  2. Mexican hat - *LOVE*
    Your gardens are so pretty and I see I'm not the only one with an abundance of yellow - that seems to be the official color for this month.

    The humidity is supposed to let up today. Hallelujah!!

  3. Lookin' good! Happy Bloom Day Monica. I think I'm finished with planting potatoes in the ground. Next year, I'm doing the containerized planting. I'm tired of digging through all that soil. Hard, hard work, and I need the space for more flowers. Ha!~~Dee

  4. Really good post. Liked the cute stories and of course your soldier beetle. The front beds are gorgeous.

  5. I'm jealous - my dahlia 'Bonne Esperance' is barely blooming at all this year. It is usually full of cheerful blooms and covered in bees, but this year it's hardly bloomed at all and I can't figure out why. Drat.

  6. Very impressed, dear Monica! Actually, I like the taste of small eggplants best :) Please tell me your Turtlehead survived? Mine are just beginning. Still at the lake but my mid-August pre-post just went up. Happy Sunday :)

  7. I'm so envious of that kuri squash. Despite my best efforts mine have not done anything. I was just thinking to myself on your rain barrel/compost picture how wonderful you show your rain barrel (didn't even notice the compost bin) when you said it could be in the running for ugly garden vignette. See, that must be where I'm different, I want to see REAL gardens-that work. And it is obvious yours is working. P.S. Finally painted my rain barrels so they will be put out soon-right in a prominent spot!

  8. Love that you have food for bloom day!

  9. Your garden is looking so good, Monica, and I love all the long shots to get a true perspective of the different areas. I seem to avoid long shots, maybe because I'm afraid my post might get picked up as the "ugly garden":) Love all your native plants! And those potatoes do look yummy; I don't know why I haven't tried to plant potatoes before.

    Hi to Bizi/Fiona and Jimi/James...and oh yes, to Pinky, too. And your planter looks perfect in the curbside find...worth the contortions and the sore foot, I think:)

  10. aloha monica,

    thanks for sharing your tomato seed secrets, very helpful tips

    you have some beautiful blooms you are sharing with us today, my favorite is the beetle shot on the beautiful flower, and i love your new words, i'll have to use 'noogie' from now on :)

  11. Happy bloom day, Monica!

    Love, love, love that Japanese anemone. I wonder if I could grow that here? Your gardens are gorgeous! :)

  12. Hi Monica....I also love the buds of japanese anemone, noogie (is that right?) Mine are not in bloom yet, will be at least another couple of weeks.

    Love your beds.....they are just too gorgeous for words. So full of pretty blooms.

    Soldier beetles are great. My garden is full of them, wonderful pest control when the soldier beetle is about.

    The rustic lawn chair was worth the effort. I love that look and your planting suits it perfectly. Wish I could just find something like that.....

    Have a fun week Monica....

    tks re seeds......

  13. Absolutely gorgeous! Wish I had more space so I could try even a tenth of what you're growing.
    I also have detailed seed-saving instructions here for tomatoes.
    My only advice would be LABEL THEM immediately! I always think I'll remember which seeds are from which tomatoes, but nope. :-)
    Have a great gardening week!

  14. Monica, What a busy gardener you are! We've been in Michigan for two weeks but I knew ahead of time that we're on a tight (with the grandchildren, etc.) schedule and I wouldn't be able to stray at all. I'm disappointed we couldn't meet. I'd hoped to, after-all. :-)

    Perhaps another time?

  15. Your garden looks good this month Monica. Love those taters. The picked chair looks great holding your pot too. Happy GBBD.

  16. Monica Your garden is just too cute" I liked everything that I saw.

    Since nothing at the moment is blooming in my garden, I'm taking notes about the flowers I may add for next year.

    I like the Japanese 'anemone, and the Golden wings rose.. pretty, pretty, pretty...

    Thanks for the tips on the tomatoes seeds and the potatoes I liked to add them too"

    Notice I added the ( e ) to both the potatoe and tomatoe it just doesn't look right with-out them..

  17. So much I love in your garden Monica, it's hard to know where to start. I'm a sucker for old chairs, and old rusty stuff, so finding an old rusty chair is like hitting the jackpot. And I love the combo sitting atop it too - the coleus looks mahvelous with the elephant ear.

    Your veggies look fantastic! I love eggplant, and I hope you enjoy your one Kuri! I got three last year, and I can't believe how many, and how big my mom's were. I haven't seen hers yet this year.

    I can imagine how good those taters are. I've never grown them, but Mom grows tons and shares them with everyone, and they're wonderful.

    Love the Japanese anemones. Ours are passalong seedlings that are still pretty small, but they're blooming for the first time evah!

    Love the Susans, rattlesnake master, Mexican hat, and everything that's blooming there this month. Happy Bloom Day!

  18. The buddleia is a really lovely color as are the anemones... very nice... Larry

  19. Your garden is looking gorgeous Monica - wish mine was! Everything here got drowned then baked then drowned again this year! :(

    Mind you, the heirloom tomato seeds you sent me have come up trumps - they're going to be prefect for harvesting next week whilst we're on holiday!!!

  20. W.O.W. It's all gorgeous! You've got yourself surrounded by eye-candy that looks good enough to eat (but I know you're saving it for the butterflies and bees!). Wonderful photos;-)

  21. Soooooo jealous! The heat and drought here have wreaked havoc on all the blooming stock. Only a few daylilies (Happy Returns) in bloom today. Am hopeful for fall blooms now that we are getting a bit of rain.

    I forgot garden bloom day, but wouldn't have had anything to photograph anyway. Thanks for the tour of your lovely yard.

  22. I like your "favorite spot" too - and all those cone flowers - so much to enjoy in your picture set - thanks for putting it together - I know it takes time.. I seem to be getting more yellow in my garden too, funny thing. I've decided to like yellow :-)

  23. PS I like that idea for growing potatoes in a big bucket!

  24. Great flowers shots, the mexican hat is just gorgeous and I'm very jealous of your healthy coleus.

  25. Hi Monica,
    Thanks for your nice comment on my GBBD post. I sure enjoyed this post. I brought it up in a new window so I could remember what things I wanted to comment on.

    First, That chair was so worth the hassle you went through to get it! I love it!

    You have a nice harvest of potatoes for that size of container. My potatoes across the street must have had something wrong with them, which caused them to die after only producing one or two potatoes each. I did get a pretty good harvest from the early producing potatoes in my own garden.

    My garden across the street does not get enough light. My tomatoes and peppers are getting very tall, looking for some sun. Some of the tomato plants are taller than the neighbor's privacy fence. I bet your tomato plants will grow and produce more. I noticed your rain barrel right away, and didn't think the area was ugly.

    I just looked to see if soldier bugs are also lightning bugs, and found that they are not. I wonder if I've seen soldier beetles here, thinking they were lightning bugs. That is a great photo, and every time I see cup plants on post, it tempts me to get some from some friends who live on an acreage.

    Well, I better close it up, because if I commented on everything I wanted to, I'd be here too long, and you wouldn't have time to read the whole comment. One more thing, I hope my ironweed does as well as yours.

    I hope you're having a great week!

  26. Monica, all of your plants look fabulous! Well, except for maybe the tomatoes, but you have a good excuse there with no sun. :-) I love the front beds. And the ironweed, wow!

  27. Your garden is insanely gorgeous. Also, I just wrote a big list of plants that I now MUST have in my own garden. I'll be losing more lawn this fall and next spring, I think :-)

  28. So much in bloom and veggies to boot.

  29. That was fun Monica~Really fun. Your garden is beautiful...noogie beautiful
    and i am just the teeniest envious of your gorgeous coneflowers! Ours are gone~The TN coneflowers are still blooming, I should add! Now I am so very excited about potatoes in a container! I think I can manage that~xxgail

  30. I love your photos.
    Happy Day :o)

  31. These are some wonderful photos.... but I think the dirt covered potatoes are my favorite! Happy Summer Digging my friend!

  32. I enjoyed your garden tour very much. I think my favorite shot is of the front garden with Pinkie in situ. Lovely! I even liked your "ugly garden" vignette. It shows me you are a real person with on-going projects. But, I loved, Loved, LOVED your curbside find lawn chair!!! It really looks great with that lush pot of coleus, elephant ears, and ferns.

  33. Thank you for the tip about the tomatoes. I will have to try that one day.

    Beautiful pictures...thank you!

  34. Wunderschön Dein Garten liebe Monica. Augustblüten haben oft schon herbstlich anmutende Farben und Formen. Astern, Dahlien, Kürbisse. Für mich alles Vorboten des Herbstes. Aber den mag ich auch sehr, wenn er denn schön sonnig und mild ist.
    Du fragtest nach den Kopfweiden. Diese Bäume werden oben regelmäßig geschnitten. Aus den Weidenzweigen werden Körbe etc. geflochten.
    Viele liebe Grüße

  35. What an exultation of blooms, Monica! I'd be hard pressed to pick out a favourite. But I know for sure I see no ugly gardens here. :-)
    Is that arrowwood 'Chicago Luster'? It looks like mine, which has still unripe berries.

  36. Just wonderful Monica! Everything looks really beautiful. I'm jealous, our garden is pretty much burned up.:-(-- Randy

  37. Hi Monica! I'm thinking (quite seriously) of finally taking the Master Gardener classes. They start in September... so I'd better make up my mind! :-)

  38. Japanese Anemones are among my favourite flowers. I have the white version and it's just about to open its buds. (I think.)


  39. Alex, Ja, bei mir ist es kunterbunt. Kennst Du uebrigens das lied Hier Kommt Alex von dem Toten Hosen? :)

    Diane, Mexican hat is pretty cool, even if my niece thought it looked rude, lol.

    Dee, My soil kind of sucks and I wanted nice composty soil for the potatoes--which was the main reason I used a container. But when it came to digging I was SO glad I did, because it was easy to move that wonderful soil mix. I definitely recommend planting potatoes in containers. I'm going to get a second one next year!

    Gardenwalk, thanks! I too love the beetle. Now if only I could find spiders to photograph...

    Amy, but pumpkin, those are the dahlias YOU gave me!!!

    Joey, eggplant is now almost ready to pick and I have lots of others forming. Turtlehead is now blooming--I'll post a photo soon!

    Tina, I had to put my rain barrels where my gutters were, only on that side of the house, lol. What color did you paint yours? Uglygardens is kind of an in joke; I don't really think it's ugly, it just isn't all perfect and magaziney. :)

    Xan, Well, food started out as flowers so what the heckerdoodles, right? :)

    Rose, plant potatoes! (I've become a potato evangelist, lol.) I usually don't do long shots either, fot he same reason, but decided what the heck. Nothing to be ashamed of. :)

    Noel, Thanks! Noogie is actually an old expression of mine. Words and weird expressions just come to me, I don't try to encourage them. :)

    Kate, I'll send you some anemone--they SPREAD like the dickens but I do love the flowers. They also come in white.

    Cheryl, Interesting to know you have soldier beetles in England, too. I'm never quite sure what is mutually exclusive in our gardens and what we share. :)

    Jennifer, yes labeling is really crucial in seed saving and sowing. You'll only forget to do it once, lol. And, ironically, I wish I had a little less space or at least less wild space. I constantly battle tree roots and buckthorn saplings and poison ivy and... ;-)

    Shady, Did you have fun in MI? I recall your relatives aren't near me anyway, but I hope you had fun.

  40. Lisa, thanks! My garden really comes into its own in late summer/fall.

    Vetsy, Japanese anemone will take over your garden in a few years (even if you pull them out like crazy), but they certainly have nice blooms.

    Linda, isn't rusty old stuff the best? Glad I'm not alone there. :) My anemones were passalong plants, too. I highly recommend growing potatoes. I still have Kuri in the fridge because I don't know how to prepare it. Ideas?

    LC, thanks, I do like that color myself.

    Liz, glad the tomatoes are doing well for you. Native plants can handle the cycles of drought and rain, so things look pretty good in fall in my garden. (But not so great in spring, early summer, lol. Swings and roundabouts!)

    Jan, well, I do eat the veggies, lol. I do get a lot of bees and a good number of butterflies and birds. And raccoons and...

    webb, I'm not very good about posting to a specific date so it's a miracle it all came together this month. Hope your garden is refreshed now.

    Country Mouse, I like all colors in the garden, even if I'm not wild about them for other things. Growing potatoes in the container is probably the smartest thing I've done this season! Try it.

  41. Kristi, thanks! Can you believe I started that coleus from seed? I'm going to take a cutting and hope it survives as a houseplant over the summer. Don't know what I'm going to do with the elephant ears. I successfully overwintered them inside last year, but they were houseplant sized then. Now they are HUGE!

    Sue, I purposely selected a small variety of potatoes ('Bintje') cause of the container, plus I like new/little potatoes. It worked out so well and was so ridiculously easy! I also don't have optimal sun. It just means I don't get as many tomatoes and such as other people, but it's still fun for me to grow them. I was surprised how little sun the potatoes required. I meant to move them off my deck (maybe 4 hours max of sun a day) but never did and they still worked out fine, if a little small (even for their cultivar).

    Jean, the tomatoes look really sad this year and I'm not sure why. I've grown them in the same location before. Next year, containers for all veg!

    Colleen, I'm happy to save seeds or give you divisions of anything in my garden. Just let me know.

    Layanee, that's just what a garden is to me. :)

    Gail, Thanks! I can't talk enough about potatoes in a container (obviously, lol). I'm going to get some gray-headed coneflowers this fall, in addition to the non-natives I have.

    Nekkid, Thanks!

    Bren, Thanks! Dirt-covered, just-harvested produce is the best. I really enjoyed digging for them. :)

    MGRR, Yes, I knew right when I saw the chair that it would be perfect for that pot (my only ornamental container, incidentally). I love old rust things and am amazed how huge that coleus has gotten, which I started from seed!

    ZZ, you're welcome. Do try it. Seed saving is fun and cheap! :)

    Birgit, weil ich viele Buesche habe, sieht es bei mir im Herbst ziemlich gut aus. Herbst ist lange meine Lieblingssaison, obwohl ich so gerne im Garten arbeite.

    Jodi, thanks! My arrowwood is just the default native arrowwood, not a cultivar.

    Randy, well, in March when you've got blooms and I've got snow, I'm envious of you, lol. The dahlia are still blooming, but when they finish, I'll send them to you!

    Shady, Do it!!!!

    Esther, I had some white ones, too, which I liked, but in my zeal to reduce their numbers, I seemed to have pulled them all. Oh well, they'll be back!