This Bloom Day finds me pulling weeds and counting blessings. I am doing one because we have had semi-regular rains, and I am doing the other because we have had semi-regular rains. Though we have had our share of hot weather which is normal, we have lately been plagued by smoke from the fire in the Dismal Swamp. Lightening struck last week and set the peat on fire, and now the area burning (or burned) is over 6000 acres. When the wind comes from the south, a choking, acrid fog envelops the city. But all and all, compared with the weather other parts of the country are having where no rain has fallen, temperatures have been over 100 for weeks on end, and the landscape is dying - I feel blessed.
Let's start this Bloom Day tour at the bottom of the front steps where the wind blew in a seed from my neighbor's Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) which planted itself in a most inhospitable place, in a tight concrete crevice. The purple flower is an Angelonia (Angelonia x) and the chartreuse vine was labeled to be a more diminutive, less aggressive Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas), but this particular vine ignores labels.
Another self-seeder in my yard is Abelmoschus manihot. I first planted this Okra/Hibiscus relative four years ago not expecting it to come back, since it is too cold here for it to be perennial, but the seeds are apparently quite fertile. I love its moon-yellow flower and maroon black eye.
Late this spring I planted two other plants that I am zone-stretching on. One is David Verity Cuphea (Cuphea x 'David Verity')...
... and the other is Orange Zest Cestrum (Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'). This plant came to the garden center in late April with blooms on it, I planted it in May in full of color, and not one day has gone by since when it was not in flower. I know another local gardener who grows it and it dies to the roots, but comes back reliably. I am a little warmer in the winter than where they are, so I have high hopes it may be more shrub-like.
Speaking of reliable, I can't imagine ever gardening in the summer without Miss Huff (Lantana camara 'Miss Huff') keeping a colorful eye on things.
I always plant a fair number of annuals, because around here the summers start in May and don't often end until October. So I need things that can carry color in the garden through the long hot season. One of my best annuals are the smaller, linear-leaf Zinnias. I like the Zahara and Profusion series, and this year the one I planted was Profusion Fire (Zinnia x 'Profusion Fire'). It has bloomed non-stop since May and shows no signs of slowing down.
We will end with another Zinnia, Zowie (Zinnia elegans 'Zowie' ). I am so pleased with this plant, I love the color, the individual flowers last for nearly two weeks, it is in your face tall, and it has bloomed as prolifically as the smaller Profusion. Every circus needs clowns and these are mine.
If you would like to see how summer is treating other gardeners, (and if they like the color orange as much as I do) then you need to stop by May Dreams Gardens where hostess Carol throws a monthly party called Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. While you are there please thank her for all the effort.