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, 2011

Bloom Day - Pulling Weeds and Counting Blessings

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.

Front Step Plantings

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.

Abelmoschus manihot (2)

Abelmoschus manihot

Late this spring I planted two other plants that I am zone-stretching on.  One is David Verity Cuphea (Cuphea x 'David Verity')...

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.

Cestrum aurantiaum 'Orange Zest'

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.

Lantana camara 'Miss Huff' (2)

Lantana camara 'Miss Huff'

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.

Zinnia x 'Profusion Fire'

Salvia × sylvestris 'May Night' and Zinnia x 'Profusion Fire'

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.

Zinnia elegans 'Zowie' (3)

Zinnia elegans 'Zowie'

Zinnia elegans 'Zowie' (2)

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.


  1. Les, you have some lively color this bloom day. When the year hits August, the weeds get a reprieve here. Same with the trimming of the boxwood and years, heck, I guess it is the gardener getting the reprieve.

  2. Beautiful colors...but I am particularly struck by the cuphea...lovely! Happy GBBD!

  3. I just mentioned on Carol's post that I need to remember to plant zinnia next year. I think "Zowie" will be the one! Great photos Les, and a good reminder to me that even though we've had an abnormally cool year here (only 87 for a summer high!) things could be much much worse.

  4. Les your garden is beautiful as always and I enjoyed the August showing.
    Happy GBBD :)

  5. Les, LOL from the "every circus needs a clown". I think Zowie is stellar and miss having it in the garden this year~I couldn't find it but will make sure to look hardener next year. Happiest of GBBDs. gail

  6. Love all the orange/red/yellow combos and that last zinnia is a stunner. It says August to me. I had not heard about the swamp fire; sounds serious.

    Waiting to see what happens in the last two recalls tomorrow. We're exhausted but not giving up. One day longer, one day stronger.

  7. I like the color orange as much as you do and especially that orange cestrum. What a beaut. Very jealous of the reseeding manihot. I've grown it before but it didn't self-sow. That porch looks like a fine spot to watch your summer rain.

  8. Wonderful, wonderful! I love the multi-colored lantanas, too. Have you always had a preference for orange, or has it grown on you (ha)? I think it is much more versatile (plays well with other colors) than I once believed. Thanks for the tour, Les!

  9. thanks for the tour lester. ha. Cuphea i would love to grow. I'm thinking of buying some in texas and overwintering them inside. Just dont know how it would do. I collected seed from the zahara zinnias last fall, and they germinated this spring.

  10. Love your clowns, and that rudbekia with the deep purple behind couldn't have been planned better, a very happy accident. Abelmoschus manihot looks as if it has a nose...

  11. Gorgeous blooms this month Les. I see you & I both love 'Miss Huff' for her reliable blooms at this time of the year. My weeds are trying to take over and I need to get out there again and do some cleanup. :)

  12. I love orange in the garden and you have it all. Great blooms and the annuals really are sharing right now aren't they?

  13. Those little zinnias are so perfect for summer. Wow on the black eyed Susan that is doing so well in its spot. Looks great!

  14. I'm impressed to see your garden so lushly bloomy, considering the heat wave that has consumed most of us in the east (even the northeast, like me) this summer. By comparison, my garden looks very green... not much blooming at all... but at least it is green, not crispy. Happy Blooms Day.

  15. I adore orange. I am sad though that my neighbor right next door hates it. I plant it anyway and so the gardening life goes on! Maybe I can help them to learn to love it.

  16. I would be lost without those little seeds that find a home in my garden and surprise me with their blooms each year. Despite your heat your garden is looking beautiful. I particularly like the shot of the balcony and the Cuphea is stunning.I think it would do well in Texas even though it might not make it through a winter.

  17. For some reason, your garden does not know it should look stressed this time of year. How do you do it?

  18. Gorgeous photos...and thank you for reminding me to plant some Zinnias next year...I don't know why I always forget to tuck a few annuals in here and there...great blooms!

  19. You must have one of the most colorful gardens going for GBBD. What a riot of color! I am patiently waiting for some late-planted zinnias to kick in with some flowers. Your's remind me of what we're missing...

  20. I think I will add more annuals next summer. Looking at some that will reseed, like Mexican Sunflower. Why am I turning to more orange in my garden? Is it the Clemson influence? haha
    Is that your Edgeworthia on the porch? The one I had in a pot on the front porch in Seaford is in the ground (since last summer) and has probably doubled in size! I keep remembering the ones at the Norfolk Botanical Garden..they were huge!

  21. Donna,
    No reprieve here. The watering and weeding continues.

    I love that cuphea too, and am hoping it comes back.

    I was a little concerned the Zowie might get mildew, but none has appeared.

    You are quite welcome, thanks for stopping by.

    The only ones I could find were in a larger size, bigger than I normally want. Maybe I will do seeds next year, if available.

    I saw that the two dems kept their seat which is good news. I guess status quo is better than a step backwards.

    We watch a lot on that porch.

    I have always liked orange. I saw a poll in one of my garden trade magazines asking gardeners what their favorite flower color was. Orange was dead last, which made me love it that much more.

    The cuphea has proven to be very drought tolerant and a non-stop bloomer, so if even if it turns out to be annual it was worth the price.

    I agree.

    Someone on my flickr page inferred it was a different part of a man's anatomy.

    If I was not already married, Miss Huff might have a shot.

    August is why I plant annuals.

    Thanks for coming by. Yes the Rudbeckia is quite happy, and so am I.

    I agree, green is much better than crispy. If it was not for the annuals, I would have little to show for August.

    You must be good people to be concerned about your neighbor's color preference. Thanks for stopping by.

    L. Rose,
    We have had heat, but at least we have had some rain too. Depending on where you live, the Cuphea may come back for you. If you are in zone 8 or even 7b with protection, it may come back.

    My secret has been to be in the hit column on the hit or miss summer showers.

    If I did not tuck annuals here and there it would all be green in late summer.

    I try to cram as much color in as possible. No room for white or pastels here.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    In deference to my wife, my orange is UVA orange. The plant of the porch is a Plumeria I bought at the Maymont Garden Show years ago, back when the show actually had gardens.


  22. The cuphea is wonderful! Splendid flower photos dear Les, you did a great job again, your images give joy and happiness!