Six on Saturday: July, Already?

The first of our crape myrtle trees has bloomed this week

Time feels like it runs a bit oddly this year. Maybe our late, cold spring threw me off a bit, as flowers bloomed later than usual. I waited later to start my Caladiums, and then later to set them out because our cool nights persisted well into May. At any rate, I still have Caladiums in their starting trays waiting for a permanent home outdoors. And it is already July?

I’ve settled into an odd rhythm of gardening, cooking, writing, reading and study. It has been too cold, too hot, too dry and too wet here in turns; always a handy excuse to procrastinate, it seems. But somehow it all gets done, even if I’m feeling perpetually tardy, these days. I finally got the last of my potted plants out of storage and into the garden today, and it looks like the weather will cooperate while they readjust to life outside.

I’ve been greeting ‘old friends’ in the garden this week as the wheel of the year turns, and summer flowers come into their season. The first Canna lily bloomed on Tuesday, and the first golden Black-eyed Susan unfolded yesterday. The heirloom Crinum lilies have been outstanding this summer. Like so many heirloom bulbs, they just get better with each passing year.

Agastache ‘Crazy Fortune’ is a new sport of A. ‘Blue Fortune’

The new Agastache ‘Crazy Fortune’ has finally bloomed, with the softest, most pastel blue I’ve seen yet on an Agastache. It is far more refined than A. ‘Blue Fortune.’ Salvia coccinea, marginally hardy here, opened its first scarlet flowers in a pot near the kitchen door yesterday. A few plants overwintered in a raised bed at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, and others came along from seeds. They began blooming at the garden more than a week ago, and I’ve been hoping to find one in bloom here at home ever since.

The Liatris spicata bloomed there first, too. Like the Agastache and Salvia, each stem covers itself in a full panicle of tiny flowers, opening to offer rich nectar a few at a time over several weeks. I bought a bag of Liatris bulbs last spring after reading in Benjamin Vogt’s book, A New Garden Ethic, about how attractive they are to butterflies. It was a big bag, and so I kept sticking them into pots and beds to add a bit of vertical color here and there, and of course to draw in the butterflies.

Salvia coccinea’s first flowers of the season

The tree Hibiscus syriacus are extravagantly covered with huge, inviting flowers. They began blooming within the last couple of weeks and now have just exploded, with our recent rain. They invite bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. And last but not least, our first crape myrtle of the season is covering itself in flowers, finally.

I’m thrilled to have so many nectar rich flowers open now. A team of naturalists is visiting next Sunday to count butterflies for the NABA as part of the Chippokes Circle butterfly count. My fingers are crossed that the numbers will be good this year, and I hope they can spot the many species that we enjoy here from time to time.

Hibiscus syriacus welcomes bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, and other pollinators until frost

Most plants have been a bit later than usual this year. At times I’ve gotten impatient and just replaced a plant, not sure whether it survived or not, but ready for leaves and flowers rather than a brown stump of a stem. I pulled out 20 odd hardy Lantana plants at the garden in mid-June, only to find my own of the same cultivar showing growth at home about 10 days later. I struck a cutting into a pot to replace the Tradescantia I assumed a winter loss, and found the tiny new leaves of the old plant poking through the soil inches away the following week. Since last week’s rain, I expect both to really take off now and fill the space with their beautiful rich purple leaves and tiny lavender flowers.

If the last year and a half has taught me anything, it is that time is more fluid and flexible than I ever imagined. Maybe I’ve grown a bit more flexible, too, with a cleared calendar and reduced expectations for each day. So I’m doubly happy to wander out into the garden and find the wonderful surprise of a leaf or flower showing itself for the first time this season. Everything in its own time, right?

Zantedeschia hybrid

There was a shallow tray of potting soil I had sown some Camellia seeds in last fall. At some point, I closed it into a zip lock bag and left it to overwinter on the deck. In later winter, it showed some patches of green that at first I took for moss. Then, as they grew, I thought that maybe they were liverworts. I began scooping some into the tops of other pots, since the Camellia seeds hadn’t sprouted. Finally, when I went to scoop from the tray this week, I noticed that the little bits of green were growing fronds.

Fern spores had populated the tray at some point, before I closed it into the bag, and they had been doing their own reproductive dance to go through all of the stages from spore to frond. I was so excited to see what was happening, because I’ve always wanted to grow ferns from spores.

Sometimes we give up too soon on what we truly want. If we can find the patience to keep moving forward, and allow the process to unfold, the most wonderful things will appear. They may not appear on our expected schedule, but they will come to us in their own time, and in their own way. We just have to keep hope alive, remain open to the possibilities; and remember to pay attention as we navigate this sea of time.

Heirloom Crinum x. powellii may be collected around old homesteads. They are known to outlive the gardener who plants them.

With appreciation to The Propagator who hosts Six on Saturday each week



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