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.

August 15, 2009

Boom Day - After The Deluge

We are interrupting our Colorado travelogue because it is the fifteenth of the month, which can only mean it is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a wonderful on-line institution founded by Carol at May Dreams Garden.

When we got back from our trip west, I could tell that we had recently had a good rain, but I could also tell that most of the time we were gone it was dry. There was a little browning around the edges on some of the plants and a general weak look to others. However, August has proven to be a very wet here in Norfolk with 8.3" of rain so far in a month where 4.5" is usually the total for the entire month. Last week we had close to 4" of rain, and Wednesday we had 3" with most of that falling in a little more than an hour. It came late in the afternoon, just before rush hour, closing interstates, flooding tunnels and swamping many cars. Unfortunately this flooding is not that unusual of an event here. When you have miles of flat land barely above sea level, fast falling rain goes nowhere fast. God help us if we ever have a real hurricane (and no, Hurricane Isabel was not a real one).

Anything remotely tropical, like my Siam Ruby Banana (Musa acuminata 'Siam Ruby') has enjoyed the rain.

Angelonia angustifolia (sorry I do not remember the cultivar)

Alabama Sunset Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Alambama Sunset')

Lantana camara (another cultivar whose name escapes me, the nurseryman should get a small note book and write something in it from time to time)

New Gold Lantana (Lantana camara 'New Gold') - Neither this one nor the one above are supposed to be perennial here, but this will be their second summer.

Profusion Fire Zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia x elegans 'Profusion Fire') - If you are not growing Zinnias from this series, you should. The are quite prolific, mildew free and will go until a freeze.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)

I know Liriope (Liriope muscari) is as common as dirt, but a coworker and I noticed this one among all the others as standing out for a bigger, more colorful flower. So we bought it and split it.

Sunrise Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora 'Sunrise') - I am not an advocate for regular pruning, but this plant needs it.

I gave up on trying to pull the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) out from under one of the Crape Myrtles and decided to just let it be. Anything that is willing to grow where this plant does can have at it.

Speaking of Crapes, this is their shedding season, and I even like this aspect of them. There outer layer of bark exfoliates in huge long strips as if they went to the beach and forgot the sun screen.

I am going to end with one of my garden visitors enjoying the Fennel. I believe this will turn into a Black Swallowtail.

Please give Carol a visit to see what other gardeners are enjoying this August.


  1. Les Your photos are wonderful...I was so delighted by the quality of the shots I had to go back for a second look at the plants! The crape myrtle bark is wonderful and wow on the banana. What's your camera, I'm in the market for a new one! gail

  2. Morning Les, How about that rain eh? We didn't get as much as you on the southside. What a mess. I am always tickled when the Liriope blooms, it changes the color scope of the garden for a little while. Where there are mass plantings of it there seems to be a cloud of either purple or white just above it.

  3. Gail,
    Thanks for the compliments. I have been having fun with my new camera, a Nikkon D5000. I got it before our vacation, but it will be another three years before I get through the instruction book.

    I won't go so far as to say I am sick of rain, but I am getting close. I keep reminding myself of what it was like the last two Augusts. I am in the process of rebuilding our front steps and the rain delays are not helping.


  4. Les, your photos are gorgeous--and I'm loving both the flowers AND the foliage combos you have there. :)

    Oh, and I'm dying of jealousy over your fennel visitors. All of the fennel I have, you would think that I would see at least ONE caterpillar.... *sigh*

  5. That is some serious rain. I was happy because we got 2.5" a week ago. We've had 7" in a weekend in past years and it is no fun — especially in my basement. Lovely images and that banana is a knockout. I keep thinking I should try liriope and your photo and Janet's comments are a good sell.

  6. Beautiful shots Les. I love the Crape Myrtle bark and the banana foliage and Euphorbia milii.

  7. Wow on the banana for sure. Your garden looks most lush and happy with all that rain. What variety is that crepe?

  8. Lovely photos Les, as usual. I heard you did enough rain to float a boat. That banana is beautiful...wonderful color contrasts. H.

  9. Hey Les,

    Great photos! Glad to here that the New Gold lantana came back for you this year. I got 3 of them from you guys this spring and there doing well. I'll mulch them good this fall and wait for there return next spring...hopefully.

  10. Hi Les.
    Great shot of the Crepe Murtle trunk in full-on shedding mode. The base of this tree looks almost fossilized, like a giant stalagmite.

    I have tried numerous times to grow banana plants in the patch, burgundy and green, but unfortunately I have had very little success, not enough moisture I think. There are a few great specimens around town, so I know it can be done.


  11. Nice collection of plants.

    Lantana is one of my favorites although I didn't grow any this year, I wish I had picked up a few for the garden.

  12. Great photos Les. Looks like you are quickly mastering the new Nikon D5000.

  13. You had to go and mention the 'H' word, didn't you???? Seems like the tropics are heating up just a bit - hopefully 'Bill' will stay out in the Atlantic! Your garden blooms look similar to mine - with the liriope, zinnias, and lantana - nice to have something still blooming in the heat of August.

  14. Great posting Les. The banana and abelia are really stunning as is everything else.

  15. Siam Ruby is great! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a banana with so much mottling to it.--Randy

  16. Your pics are breath-taking. There is something about gardeners that seems to make us want what we can't have. I want your rain, dammit!
    I love the banana foliage the best. You seem to go for pretty leaves as much as for pretty flowers.

  17. BSG,
    You would think that at least one caterpillar would find your fennel attractive. There are places around here where the fennel has naturalized and could use an army of caterepillars.

    If you want to try Liriope, look for some of the more interesting ones. This plant is very utilitarian around here and is tough as nails.

    Sweet Bay,
    Thanks for stopping by. I often just go outside and strip the bark of the C. Myrtles. I guess I need to find another hobby.

    I have no idea which Crape that is. It was planted by the city maybe 40 years ago, or more.

    We did indeed have a flood. Unfortunately mostly what was floating were cars.

    I agree with the heavy mulching. I did not think after this winter's cold they would make it, but they did.

    I grow one variety that is hardy in our winters (Musa basjoo) and the Siam Ruby which I must bring in. No matter the variety they need copius amount of water.

    Mr. BT,
    I have determined that I will not garden without Lantana. It thrives in our late summer weather where others wither.

    Thanks! High praise coming from your accomplished self.

    Someone had to say it, and it may as well have been me. I heard that Bill will be going to Bermuda this weekend, so maybe we will be spared.

    Thanks for stopping by. If I had to do it all over again, I would pick another Abelia, but it is what it is.

    Siam Ruby is very expensive in catalogs, but it puts out pups like a junk yard bitch, so is easy to share.

    Weeping Sore,
    Yes I do like my foliage. My plot is so small that the plants I pick need to do double duty. Brief flowers and lackluster foliage have no room in my garden, but I am quick to break my own rules.