An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 15, 2009

Bloom Day - I Think I'd Like To Have Another

September's Bloom Day post seems like a perfect time to reflect on the summer that is soon to end. The people here in Hampton Roads should feel as if the weather gods have been smiling on them all season, particularly with what has been going on in other places. Some of our Yankee and other cooler climate friends have been watching Late Blight steal the very life from their tomatoes. The poor people in Texas have been baking in an unrelenting dry heat. The usually cool and hip Pacific northwest broke heat records this summer. Hot as it was in those places, at least the land didn't burn like it is in southern California (which it seems to do so increasingly every summer). I am sure there are many other places where the weather was a story this summer.

In this corner of the world it has been a weird summer too, but weird in a good way. Temperature wise, we had an unusually low number of days when it rose into the 90's and only one day where it even approached 100. The real story was our rainfall. Since August 1st we have had just shy of 20" of rain, 5.5" of that fell last week in one day. Needless to say, most of the plants have loved it, but I have lost a couple of things from too much rain. Given the choice of what we had the past two summers and what we got this year - I think I'd like to have more summers just like this past one.

On to the blooms. Let's start with a few from the front porch. The first is Indian Dunes Geranium (Pelargonium 'Indian Dunes'), which has gotten a second wind from the cooler temperatures of the last couple of weeks.


The Plumeria did not bloom last summer, but has made up for it this year. I wish you could smell it.

In the front garden, the Pat Austin Rose has been enjoying the same cool spell as the Geranium.

Fireworks Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks') is just coming into season and without all the drought induced spider mites from last summer.

Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis)

Dahlia x 'Bishop of York'

The bees have been extremely busy on my Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'), and it is by far their favorite plant in my garden. Knowing how funky (not in a good way) this plant smells, I wonder if the honey made from this Salvia's pollen has that same funk.

Now to the back yard. The limbs of the Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) were bowing down from the weight of all the fruit. If you have ever inadvertently backed into one of these trees, you will know why I had to cut several branches that blocked the sidewalk for taller folk.

August Beauty Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty')

Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

Pickerel Rush (Pontederia cordata)

Finally, despite the extra rainfall my Hibiscus coccineus has been reluctant to bloom, at least until this week. I guess it was just holding out for Bloom Day.

If you would like to see what is happening in other gardens around the country and around the world, head on over to see Carol at May Dreams Garden as she is the hostess supreme for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.


  1. Les, The weather has been very odd to say the least...but the extra rain and cooler temps has kept phlox blooming, Susans yellow longer and has generally made life easier for a gardener. I wished many times this year to have a cistern to collect all that water!

    Love your photos~~The gardenia is a pure white that has my imagination conjuring fragrance! Now I must run doen to the sunny bed and check out the salvia scent! I am generally not a fan of begonias, but Hardy begonia will always have a place in my garden. It's a beauty and backlights so nicely. Gail
    p.s. Question! How do size your photos in blogger? Did you have to adjust the sidebar, too?

  2. It has been a strange summer for weather. I like the B&B Salvia as well but I've never noticed a smell. Maybe its covered up by the butterfly bush scent. The goldenrod in our garden has gone to seed already but the wilder stuff is blooming away.

  3. You think you'd like to have another -
    I think I need to have another...
    ...drink, that is. Preferably sitting in that red
    hanging chair.

    One tiny bite out of the Ceratostigma leaf.
    Is that the best you can do?
    I am sitting here, deeply morose.
    You all seem to belong to a club that I
    can no longer legitimately call myself a member of:
    wholesome gardens with unscathed plants.

    Dripping with envy (and despair if I am truthful).
    That hibiscus is such a sumptious colour and
    the rush-type thing. How lovely.

    Any nice houses/gardens going in Norfolk?

  4. Good morning Les, I love the girl friend has promised a cutting of hers. I just brought a few gardenias in last night and this morning the whole kitchen is filled with their fragrance. I have Fireworks mixed in with the Blue Lobelia and it is a nice combo.
    I am surprised your Hibiscus coccineus hasn't bloomed much, mine just keeps on going...but I live in a swamp.
    Want anything from my garden on Friday? Japanese Asters? Blue Lobelia? Blackberry lily? Let me know.

  5. That plumbago is simply delightful. I wish I could smell it too. We've also had a great summer. If it could only be like this every summer the south wouldn't be such a bad place to live...

  6. What a scent garden you have, with the Plumeria, roses, AND Gardenia! I got to smell Plumeria last week down in TX with my folks. I think it might have been my old plant that I had to leave behind. p.s. I can't remember if I commented about Loretta's singing and how it got our sleeping Beagle out of bed to come and cock his head this way and that, trying to find her! Really cute.

  7. "the Pat Austin Rose has been enjoying the same cool spell as the Geranium."

    I have a geranium the same color as your Pat Austin rose.

  8. Les — I think you must have one of the most thoughtful and beautiful Bloom Day posts out there. The flowers are lovely, lush and saturated with color. But that angled shot of the porch is a winner.

  9. Not too many people can say something interesting in a short comment...but then I saw that your favorite books list includes Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Your pictures are great, but I will be back for the words.

  10. I can't believe how much rain you've gotten this summer. It seems to have done your plants much good--things look lovely, esp. that gardenia and the plumeria. I hope to be enjoying its fragrance next summer, as a blogging friend just gave me a cutting from hers.

  11. The plumeria is beautiful. Everything is pretty. I forgot it was the 15th!

  12. Wonderful blooms for Bloom Day! I think I need to try an 'August Beauty' Gardenia here. My old fashioned "Grandma" gardenia only gives me the one flush of blooms in June. I wish I could smell the Plumeria too:)

  13. *Love* the Plumeria. Not sure if my gardenia is going to bloom more this year, so I will enjoy the perfect white bloom on yours. Love the shots of the Plumbago and Hibiscus too.

    Bees love Bog Sage too, and the foliage scent is even stronger on that. I have often thought that I wouldn't want to eat that honey. lol

  14. Hi Les, like you, as Gail says, our weather has been cooler, we barely got over 90 here too, and more rainfall. The garden is grateful as is the gardener. Your plumeria is magnificent. I tried growing it in Houston but never got a flower. Such an exotic beauty. That gardenia looks like a perfect corsage. :-)

  15. I would like more summers like the one that we just had as well. It tends to get far too humid here and I just want to stay inside all summer. This summer was cool and wonderful.

    Your plumeria is absolutely fantastic. I have been seeing a lot of it on the blogs with comments such as 'this is the first time that it has bloomed'...I guess this was the year for plumeria!

  16. The Plumeria is beautiful and what a great photograph. Perfect!

  17. Certainly time to appreciate what we have and celebrate the ending of summer and the opportunity for cool breezes to clear out the humidity.

  18. The plumeria petals are incredible, it almost looks like they are made out of buttercream frosting. I wish I could smell it, too!

  19. Oh yes, thank you that the spider mites took a vacation. Weren't they awful!?

    You have the most unusual plants and combinations. Really enjoyed seeing this slideshow and the gardenia smelled wonderful. The Fireworks goldenrod is showy and yellowy :)

  20. Gail,
    I sent you a link off-blog with some information about re-sizing your blog.

    I think a lot of the salvias have a stong B.O. odor, some are worse the others. I think the worst I ever smelled was Cleary Sage.

    I am sorry Sept. finds you in despair. All is not peaches and cream here either. You only see what the photography chooses to show you. That said, it still has been a good summer on the rainfall and insect front.

    I am thinking that the Hibiscus' delayed bloom was from the shade in the back yard. I am sorry that I did not get back to you about your offerings. As you will see I have little room left to plant anything new without taking something else out first.

    Even in a hot summer, I don't think the South is such a bad place to live. The hot weather just makes you appreciate the other 3 seasons.

    Truth be told, the major scent in the garden is that of my three Canis lupus familiaris. I am glad Loretta gave your beagle a little lift. We usually get a concert when we come home from work.

    Thanks for stopping by. Pat is the only Austin rose I own, but I have been very happy with it.

    Thanks for the compliment. We took my mother-in-law, the painter's advice and made a few things red, including the swing. She says few compositions are complete without a touch of the color.

    My absolute favorite work by Robbins is Jitterbug Perfume.

    Yes the rain has been incredible. Unfortunately it is a reminder that we need to shell out some cash for some needed roof repairs.

    I have had the Plumeria for over 10years. It was one of those things bought at a flower and garden show in the dead of winter.

    This was a tiny thing I bought in a pt. size pot for $1. It is struggling with the shade, but keeps on blooming.

    Sweet Bay,
    I will be seeing one of our local beekeepers in a couple of weeks and will have to ask him the Salvia question.

    I am thinking the remarkable summer must be a regional thing. I am glad you had a good one also.

    I put the Plumeria on the blog at the last minute and judging from all the responses, I am glad I did.

    Thank you very much! See the above comment to Sylvana.

    I am sitting here with the window open and am about to close it. Too cool, too soon.

    I had no idea what color it was going to be until it bloomed years after I got it. I was hoping for a more vibrant color, but I am pleased with it nontheless.

    I think of all the insects that plague my garden, spider mites are what I fear most. They can be hard to get rid of, even if you commit chemical warfare on them. The best defense is wet weather.


  21. Looking good, Les. It's amazing all that you have packed in. H.

    P.S. Thanks for the well wished for this weekend's Garden Conservancy Open Days tour, also benefiting the JC Raulston Arboretum

  22. Great showing Les! Makes me want to go out & buy more plants - I'm sure you could help with that...ha ha!
    It has been an interesting summer, but like you said, in a good way.

  23. Helen,
    Having seen my patch, you know it is a little crowded, but somehow it all works.

    Of course I can help you with buying more plants.