As I write this, it's the leanest season for perennial bloom. The nepeta still has blue along some stems, and the calamintha's similar but tinier purple flowers are showered all over it. Likewise the herb robert sprinkles its tiny pink bloom around the garden, and the lemon thyme is covered in a purple haze with bees.
Ruellia, supposedly a rare native but in my garden a pest, splashes short-lived little pale purple flowers wherever I've let it stay. Late-germinated johnny jump-up volunteers show fresh merry faces. Not showy masses of color, yet these all cheer me.
There's certainly enough to pick; the mauve joe-pye weed would look lovely in a vase with the delicate lacework of Palace Purple heuchera blooms' dark purple stems and tiny gray flowers. I was going to pick some of the nodding onion volunteers that showed up this year... but was so fascinated watching the development of the flowers from their hanging buds, that now they've become mature globes, I've decided the time to pick them was when they still hung down, but had started to open like little fireworks.
Two of my three everblooming daylilies are not, just now; maybe they'll start up again and maybe I need to divide them. But 'When my Sweetheart Returns' is going full blast: frilly creamy-yellow petals with peachy-pink eyezones.
Perhaps the most color comes from tall phlox spreading all over, hybridizing from a few named varieties in delightful new ways including one whose pink petals have streaks and stripes! Just starting to bloom: great blue lobelia, which will have three-foot spikes of little bright blue flowers another native which self-seeds enthusiastically for me, although flowers are denser on some plants than others.
Two-foot Autumn Joy Sedum, just starting to show a delicate pink, has looked attractive for weeks with its big flowerheadsbulging with pale green buds. Rosy Glow Sedum, a lower plant, is opening neon pink clusters of stars over the blue-green leaves.
But the showiest flowers in the whole garden right now are on a plant most people don't even think of, for flowers a hosta, 'Sparkling Burgundy'. Its two-foot tall, dark, wine-red petioles (flower scapes) grow sturdily straight up, not bending. The flowers have more substance and color than other hostas', and grow straight out from the scapes, not drooping until they fade. In this plant, I can see clearly hostas' relationship to lilies.
© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark
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