Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Joys of June

As May comes to an end, the gardens are bursting with blooms everywhere, and June brings more of the same and many more new things.  June may be the month with the most things in bloom, as winter/cool season annuals come into peak bloom, the first of the summer blooming bulbs begin, and many perennials are in season.   Some of the relatively few shrubs that I have added, mostly grown from seed, also bloom in June.   So this post is a really long one with lots of photos, and a number of plants are seen more than once as they continue developing in the period between the last week of May and the first few days of July that this post spans.

Delosperma nubigenum blooms only in spring but makes quite a show.  It spreads by trailing branches and after a gentle winter it is looking great.  As I write this, this particular plant has been hard hit by the wild swings of the current winter but as with most delospermas, any green bits that remain make a quick recovery.  Plus all delospermas are easy to regenerate from seeds, and many self sow in sandy soils in my gardens.  The spot of bright magenta is a Ruschia pulvinaris also in bloom.



Three more seed grown peonies come into bloom, these are also from the American Peony Society.  This is their first bloom, many more will bloom next year and I imagine that even these plants will look a bit different as they get stronger.   




A species rose I grew from seed looks rather nice, but its blooms are short lived.  Not sure which one it is though.

I am pretty proud of this Lonicera hirsuta I grew from seed from Gardens North.  It grows stronger each year but is not aggressive.  The foliage is quite nice too.   A blackberry that has grown way too vigorously competes with it for space on the chickenwire fence that was here when we got the property, but after we got less than impressive fruit in summer I cut the blackberry vines way back. 


Delosperma dyeri does not always get through our winters, nor does it like the worst of summer heat and humidity, but this year it did well 


 Delosperma floribundum is a real winner, it self sows very well here and flowers from now through frost.   It thrives best in well drained sunny areas like all delospermas, and it finds the cracks between bricks in a patio much to its liking.  It can die out in very hard winters but soon comes back from seeds which reach blooming size quickly.  After mild winters they not only survive, they don't have much dieback at all.

Near a corner in one of the back gardens, Conradina verticillata, the Cumberland Rosemary, begins to bloom.  It roots as it goes, so rooted pieces are easy to lift and spread around.  It is on the federal endangered species list but is often available from herb nurseries who don't know that.  Just as well because the laws that restrict mailing such plants across state lines make it really hard for nurseries propagating them to sell them and be in compliance with a law that needs updating.   It is one thing to disturb an endangered plant in its native habitat, but an entirely different thing when they are being propagated in nursery.  I think that more gardens should showcase such plants, particularly ones like this that have a lot of horticultural value.  It helps both to educate more gardeners so that they are more likely to advocate protecting the habitats where these plants are found and also allows ex situ conservation of these rare species.  As is often the case, rarity in nature does not necessarily correspond with "difficult to grow".  So long as it has a well drained soil, preferably with some sand added, in a sunny place it is easy to grow.  A somewhat less vigorous white flowered form, "Snowflake" can also be found with a bit of searching.  The dandelion seeds are from a deep purple leaved species, Taraxacum faeroense, aka T. rubrifolium.   Its a small growing yellow flowered species which is not going to take over the garden.  Aside from Taraxacum officinale, the common dandelion, most taraxacum species are not especially aggressive in my experience.  I like them and am always looking for seeds of more odd ones to add to my gardens.  A double flowered form of the Ragged Robin, Silene flos-cuculi "Jenny", makes quite a show in pink.   It flowers for a decent amount of time, and can be propagated by cuttings as it makes little rosette offsets later in the season.  They are probably best rooted in pots or a cold frame then placed in the garden.  Unfortunately this cultivar does not set seed so it needs to be propagated asexually to keep it.




Osteospermum jucundum and "Avalanche" continue their spring show for quite a while.   They will bloom off and on all summer but are at their best in June.  A couple of bright purple Senecio macrocephalus bloom further back.  This is one of a trio of hardy perennial South African purple senecios that do very well in my gardens.  This one is very cold hardy and spreads by seed to make large colonies in favored locations.  I had to remove some this year so that they would not overwhelm some of their smaller neighbors and to keep them in certain areas of the gardens where I want them to stay. A cute fern, Cheilanthes feei, loves this spot and, judging from the colony our friends in town have of it, it can spread slowly to make a decent sized mat.  The fronds curl when dry or frozen, then open up when temperatures and moisture are conducive to growing.  It likes as much sun as I can give it, this is not a woodland fern.

 Penstemon is primarily a western USA genus which is not often seen in eastern gardens though many are adaptable if given sun and drainage. This is probably Penstemon murrayanus which I got through the NARGS seed exchange.

 The exquisite little flowers of Virginia stocks, Malcomia maritima, make a showy splash of color wherever one drops the seeds.  This is my first year growing them, and I have been pleased, they come into flower quickly, bloom for a decently long time, and resow.  It remains to be seen how self sown seedling cope with winter, and if they don't survive, if new ones come up in spring.

Another delosperma, probably D ashtonii "Blut", has seeded itself into a crack.   A similar colored but less floriferous species grows nearby, it, however, blooms all summer long. A tiny silver leaved Cotula shows off little yellow button flowers on thin stalks.  I have seen it called Cotula hispida but I don't think that is a correct identification.  It is quite hardy but its also easy to overwinter a few cuttings under lights just in case.

Delosperma nubigenum in another part of the garden blooms along with a mystery pink one.  The hardy opuntia cactus will have to be trimmed someday, but for now it looks rather neat in its spot.  Rigid leaves of two Hesperaloe parviflora, a hardy yucca relative, stick up behind another Conradina verticillata.  Later they will bear red or yellow flowers, depending on the variety.  Dictamus albus
flowers in the background as do many Viola tricolor.

Aquilegia chrysantha and hybrids of it and some "clematis" flowered Aquilegia vulgaris provide a show of color in this area.  I later had the conifer behind them removed to make more room for flowers.

Dianthus grationopolitanus, the Cheddar Pink, is a fine low growing pink.  I have a nice colony of several plants that were grown from exchange seeds.  If one stoops to get a whiff, the fragrance is worth the effort. 

June brings the finest flowering of this native honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, but it will flower off and on later too.  I planted a red and yellow one on this arbor.   The yellow one is less vigorous than the red, but both are beautiful and loved by hummingbirds. They are a far better plant for this arbor than the Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, that was there when we got the house.  It needs a much larger space and I am still pulling out suckers from its long roots some years after getting rid of it.  The lonicera isn't nearly as aggressive and makes more flowers.  



 What a pleasant surprise to find this lone Moraea huttonii flower amidst a monarda. I must have planted this hardy iris relative from the high Drakensberg of South Africa there and forgot about it.
 The bearded iris are hitting their stride along the driveway.  I planted a double row of them along one side to replace the hosta clumps I removed.  Most came from Wild Iris Rows as a mix for a very good price, along with a few others I ordered individually.  More than half bloomed their first spring, and that will only get better with each passing year.   I also have a few at the front of the driveway (in the last iris photo) that came from one of my sister's gardens.  She got a house with a lot of iris already there.   She thinned them out and left them in a plastic garbage can which leaked, and I took some of them back with me to NY after a visiting her the spring before.  Those varieties must be super tough as they thrived in clay soil and survived months sitting in the garbage can.  Poncirus trifoliata, the hardy Japanese Orange, can be seen with the first iris.  I grew those from seeds given to me by a friend.






 This annual weedy geranium species looks good for a short while but I pulled it up before it seeded all over the place.  Nonetheless I am sure it will be back, and its okay so long as it stays on the property boundaries.
 The intersectional "Itoh" peony "Bartzella" is one of the older ones and probably still the best of the lot.  They are crosses of tree peonies with herbaceous ones It is sterile as are the others though it makes large seedpods later on.  I keep hoping I will find a seed one day as it is a ravishing beauty of a plant.  I got mine in Costco, of all places for 30 dollars or thereabouts.  It was more like a few hundred dollars when it first came out and it still isn't that common.   Behind Bartzella the Sweet Williams, Dianthus barbatus, begin their month of bloom.
June is the favored month for the Orange River Lilies, Crinum bulbispermum to start blooming.  All of mine are grown from seeds, a process that takes a few years to get flowering sized bulbs.  This is the hardiest crinum species as far as I am aware. I protect some of the bulbs, especially newly planted young ones, with wood chip mulch just in case, but older bulbs should be quite hardy.  I have heard of them being grown in Indiana, Kansas, and Missouri which certainly see some colder lows than we experience.  They will rebloom on occasion during the summer or fall and produce copious amounts of large green round seeds.  These seeds should be planted within a few week of harvest as they are not viable if they dry out.  Planting is easy, just press them into a decent soil mix in a large pot, don't cover them.  They send out a root which digs down into the soil to make a small bulb from which the first leaves will emerge.  Bulbs younger than 2 years are best overwintered indoors in a cool dry location (or they can be kept in growth in a sunny windowsill or under lights).  These are big plants with bold leaves of considerable interest on their own.  Their only fault is that they don't  have that powerful sweet fragrance that other, more tender, crinum species have.  


Catanache caespitosa came from Wrightman Alpines during their annual visit to the Stonecrop Gardens Alpine Plant Sale.  It has done well, staying low and not running all over the place. 

 The mild winter allowed this Cistus creticus to not suffer any dieback so this year it was spectacular.  Its large blossoms come in this month only and the plant would double in size by the end of the year.  As I write this the plant is looking stressed by the harsh winter we have endured, but I protect the base of the plant with wood chips which should see it through until I remove them in spring.  It did make seeds so I can regrow it if it were to die out.  I think it would be quite possible to breed hardier cistus hybrids using genotypes of several species from higher altitudes than what has generally been cultivated. The sticky fragrant foliage is also repulsive to deer and other mammals so that is another plus for this plant.
 Malcomia maritima makes an interesting tapestry when sowed among the bricks.
 This bird bath came with the house but I don't have time to worry about maintaining a bird bath, they can get their showers elsewhere.  So we had Lin, our friend who knows everything about anything to do with a house, drill holes through the bottom so I could create this trough.  I planted it with several drought resistant hardy species.  The springs in the middle are from a Sedum species I collected in Taiwan, it is frost hardy but suffers from single digit lows.   Delosperma congestum is a slow grower and among the hardiest of the delospermas, and the crassula like plant is something I got from Panayoti that he collected, I think, in central Asia somewhere.  It is pretty tough.  The Sempervivum is an ordinary one, but it is special to me since I got it from my maternal grandmother's house.  She had it planted in a container and it is one of three plant species that I have that she grew in West Virginia.  Sometimes a plant is worth keeping because of its association with loved ones no longer with us.
I wouldn't have planted this rhododendron where we found it but it does put on a nice show every spring.  It also offers a bit of shade during the hotter days of summer for some container gardens in front of it.  


Monarda bradburiana is about the earliest of them to flower and a big plus is that it does not get mildew like its taller, later flowering, relatives do.  With pungent leaves as one would expect of a plant in the mint family, all Monarda are ignored by mammals but loved by hummingbirds.

 Dictamnus albus is really hitting its stride in mid June.
 Meanwhile in my school garden Oenothera speciosa "Siskiyou Pink" blooms its head off as it continues its invasion of a portion of one of the gardens there.  It is low and spreads by underground roots, but its hard not to like such a pretty thug.
Allium moly is a vigorous yellow flowered onion that can be had from the Dutch bulb suppliers quite cheaply.  I wonder why it is not seen more often, its beautiful and easy.  Bulbs divide and multiply and it self sows too but not to the point of invasiveness.  I planted some in my home gardens too, but these are in the school garden where they thrive with little care.  They disappear underground soon after flowering. 

A lone white Dutch Iris has persisted in the school garden for some years.  They are not particularly reliable here from year to year in our climate as the foliage tries to come up early and can suffer during winter. 

 This iris came from a collection made in Tibet as I recall, and it is a handsome thing in full bloom. It is attacked by voles sometimes in winter but any pieces of rhizome left behind will recover and regrow.  I think they like to bother it because the thick foliage provides a good hiding place for these worst of rodent vermin to do their harm in relative safety from predators.
I don't think I have ever seen a spuria iris in anyone else's gardens, but I grew these from SIGNA seeds. They are durable and pretty and need no care other than occasional weeding.  I intend to move some to our home gardens one day, as the clumps are growing larger and could be divided. 

 Back at home, the wild form of the Corn Cockle, Agrostemma githago, begins to bloom.   This cool season annual used to be a common weed of wheat fields in Europe but the advent of modern herbicides has pushed it close to extinction in some areas.  Its flowers are not quite as showy as its relative A. milas since the sepals exceed the petals in length.

The Sweet Williams are supposed to be biennials, but more often they live for a few years.  Self sown seeds come up in a wide array of colors and patterns.  I like variation and this is one of my favorite flowers, as each plant seems to be different than all the others.

 Cotula sp "Tiffendell" is another of Panayoti's collections from South Africa, in this case from the ski resort of the same name in the Drakensberg.  It has done well and is especially happy when it self sows into the cracks in between bricks in the patio.  There it is more resistant to dieback when hot humid weather arrives later in summer.  Cold does not bother it.
 Styrax americanus "Kankakee form" blooms with a cloud of hanging little five petaled flowers.  I grew this from NARGS seeds and it is a delight.  Slow growing, it comes from an isolated northernmost population of the species and is naturally dwarf.  I wonder if it really should be considered a separate species as it is so small, but whatever its taxonomic status it clearly is a genetic outlier.

 Diascia fetcainensis is the hardiest of the diascias, but it is prone to rot in hot humid summer weather unless it is in a gritty soil.   Nonetheless often a piece or two survives and regrows with the advent of cooler weather.  In June it is glorious and if the weather is favorable it will flower through the summer too.

Delosperma nubigenum is still looking nice in the raised rocky area of the South African garden. 

A gladiolus grown from Silverhill Seeds and marked as an unknown species from high altitude blooms in a cold frame where it is protected from excess moisture.  The Cape gladioli are winter growers by nature since this is when the rains fall, so most have gone dormant by late spring, but this species is one of the last to flower.
Cotula sp Tiffendell does superbly in the cracks between bricks.  They get larger with each year and self sow. Flowers peak in June but can come throughout the summer. 
By the weird little garden gnome that came with the property I planted a native Wisteria, W. frutescens.  My wife overpruned it, thinking it was a weed the year before but I caught her in time before it completely disappeared. No problem, it rebounded quickly and the short flower clusters appear mainly in June.    It is not nearly as rambunctious as its Asian cousin, so there is no danger of it swallowing whole trees.  Kind of a pity because the Asian species, Wisteria japonica (and the similar W. sinensis) have longer flower clusters and come in more varieties, including a double flowered form.   But they are much slower to reach flowering age and very aggressive plants.

Across a nearby walkway the attractive dark foliage and pretty flowers of Rosa glaucifolia complement each other.  As with with many roses, June is the month of bloom for this species here.  It is easy from seed, my plants came from leftover NARGS seeds. Later red fruits, aka "hips" are borne with the seeds inside.  All rose hips are high in vitamin C and edible although I would not consider them wonderful eating as their texture is rather pithy and dry.
June is also when most Dianthus are at their peak.  Here several species, all from leftover exchange seeds, begin to bloom.  They are perennial so long as they have sun and good drainage.  Their worst enemies are voles, especially in winter when voles rummage under the mats of foliage and eat portions of the plants.  Keeping mulch away from them helps, dianthus don't like mulch and less cover is available to the voles so predators (or other measures) can keep them under control.
Corydalis ochroleuca (Pseudofumaria alba) is an easy to grow thing that will seed around when happy.  It blooms all year except for the coldest parts of winter, but is at its best in June.  This particular plant really likes its spot, but they can be short lived so keep the ground clear around it so seedlings can appear.  In some situations it can be a bit of a thug, but it is valuable for both early and late flowers when not much else is in bloom, let alone the nice display in June. 

Ranuculus repens flore-pleno came from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden years ago when I worked as summer intern there.  Its a beautiful double buttercup that can make quite a show for a few weeks in June  It has followed me and I let it loose in a bed on one corner of the property that is contained on two sides by a wall and the third by pavement. Behind it rhododendrons and other large shrubs mark the border.  There it is kept in check by vigorous hellebores near the long wall, and and the tiny but prolific spreading Ixeris stolonifera which forms a lawn of a sort in open areas.   It is stoloniferous so the stolons try to come down the steps but every now and then I pull some out.   It is really a beautiful thing in bloom and pest free to boot, but one has to keep it in bounds.  It does not spread by seed which in its case is a very good thing.
Rushia hamata comes from the high elevations in the northern and eastern Cape into Mpumalanga.  It has tiny leaves and quite small but bright little flowers.  More cold hardy than one might think, it came through last winter outside and in a cold frame without damage.  As I write this I have seen signs of winter burn at the ends of the plants outside, but I am confident they will be fine and just need a trimming of any dead branches when spring finally gets here. Easy from seeds and cuttings.
Senecio sp Tiffendell is another awesome collection made by Panayoti Kelaidis.  It is one of the three reliable hardy purple senecios I grow from high altitude areas of South Africa.  It is unique in that it spreads by thin stolons unlike the other two.  The flowers also have dark centers and are very pretty, and it is more likely to repeat bloom after June than the other two species.  I have a nice patch of it in the South African garden and have introduced some plants into the front gardens where it can romp among many other plants not far from its cousins S. polyodon and S.macrocephalus.

Eumorphia sericea (or prostrata?) is a creeping species from the high Drakensberg that is quite frost resistant.  It benefits from a bit of protection around the base in case of harsh winters but this past winter it didnt show any signs of dieback so they flowered very well.  Small white daisies are born over a rather long period of several weeks with an occasional later one.  It can be propagated by seeds and by cuttings or branches that root along the ground as they travel. The soft fine foliage is attractive too. 

Aquilegia buergeriana is a very long flowering columbine.  Some bloomed for several months which is not what aquilegias normally do.  Its one of the smaller species with flowers that are rather subtly colored but it is a good doer in the garden.  Once again I got this from leftover seeds from NARGS, as I probably would not have ordered it specifically.  But as with many things, trying something new and unplanned can lead to good things, and I count this reliable little plant as a good thing indeed. 


Every gardener has certain ideas about plants that they naturally like.  The umbellifers (Apiaceae) contain a great many plants with nice foliage and flowers but so many are iterations of white lacy flowers above finely divided foliage.  So its even more appealing when something different comes along, and Pimpinella major rosea brings that with its pink flowers.  It does not bloom for long and I only wish that it had half the spreading ability of its better known cousin Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota).  I haven't had it seed around yet even though I wish it would.  


Geranium viscosissium comes from our western states and I think that is what this plant is.  I forgot where I got it, probably as seed, but it self sows sparsely in a well drained sunny site.  The flowers are not borne in great numbers but are pretty and do continue for many weeks.
Dianthus barbatus, the Sweet William, continues to get better and better looking as June progresses.  One doesn't see them as often as one should for several reasons.  First, they take two years to bloom (the so called "annual" versions offered by some seed vendors or in nurseries pale in comparison to the real thing) so they they are not likely to be offered by your local nursery.  People are reluctant to buy something that doesn't have flowers on it and by the time it blooms it might be near the end of its life.  I find they can survive more than two years though but that isn't guaranteed.  They are also hard to patent because they are perfect the way they are and the variation within a population of them is a big part of that appeal.  Breeders like to patent plants that are very uniform and predictable (I read that as "boring") and that need to be propagated by cuttings every year.  But these are rarely propagated by cuttings (though its doable for a home gardener but not on a commercial scale)  and they set abundant seed and are quite hardy plants. This reduces the appeal of Sweet Williams to both the wholesale and retail growers since they don't need to be brought anew by gardeners every year.  They are super easy from seeds but again, so many gardeners are loathe (afraid even) to grow from seeds, which is a real shame.  Growing from seeds is not hard in most cases and is considerably cheaper and often more rewarding than buying plants.  Plus it opens up a whole new world of plants that cannot be found other than as seeds.   Once Sweet Williams are established they will take care of resowing themselves, needing only an occasional thinning and weeding to keep them happy and blooming ever afterwards. And they will reward you with new colors and patterns every year.
By June I have hauled out all of the summer growing potted plants, many of which spent the winter dormant in the garage or other cool spots inside.  I keep the plants that need light under lights during winter but it is nice to have plants that can be dried off for a long winter nap.   These mainly Mexican oxalis species are easy to grow and wake quickly as soon as they go outside and get watered.  Some bloom right away, others bloom all summer long, and all have attractive foliage.  I have a large collection of both winter growing, summer dormant South African oxalis species as well as these summer or evergreen oxalis from Central and South America.  There are a few oxalis such as O. lobata (perdicaria seems to be a light flowered form of lobata to me) from Chile that behave as winter growers, and there are several evergreen species that branch, some of them succulent, mainly from South America.  While the genus has a very predictable flower shape, the colors vary and the foliage is one of their main attractions as well.  There must be hundreds of species of oxalis.  In fact the source of most of the plants shown below grows only oxalis.  I rarely come across plantsmen who are that singly focused but I completely understand as one could spend a lifetime collecting them and never get bored of them nor ever get to grow every species.  Some of the species shown below can survive outside with protective mulch in winter and probably are fine in the warmer parts of Zone 7 and south without protection.  They do cross with each other and seedlings come up in other pots.  Some of those seedlings are worth keeping but many serve as extras to try in the garden or just get rid of, as the bulbs tend to offset quite freely.
This hybrid delosperma was grown from seeds, possibly of Lavender Ice.   Whatever it is it flowers for a long time and is one of the hardier ones.
This Packera (Senecio) species was something I collected down South in the sandhills region of Georgia or South Carolina one summer.  It doesnt seem to travel like Packera aurea does, at least not so far.  It has different foliage too, and grows much taller.  It blooms for several weeks.   Packera aurea is a lovely thing but it does wander by means of threadlike stolons so it has been exiled to one of the property borders, where I hope it will invade that particular neighbor's side and replace the garlic mustard and other weeds understory between some rather nice dogwoods and shrubs over there.  I often go in there and weed myself but the easiest thing is to get a good groundcover going to suppress the weeds which send their seeds my way, and to help reduce the number of invasive Norway Maple saplings germinating every spring that threaten to become large trashy trees unless I keep them in check.  


I got this Salvia lavendulifolia from Wrightman Alpines and it has done well.  It looks like a smaller version of Sage (S. officinalis) to me, and has much the same preferences.  It even blooms at about the same time.  The distinctive round seed pods of Alyssoides utricularia can also be seen.  It flowers earlier with masses of bright yellow flowers.
Asclepias viridis is one of the better behaved milkweeds, and the earliest to flower.  Most of our native asclepias species are easily grown from seeds, but stratification seems to be needed for optimal germination.  Young plants look rather miserable in pots so they are best set free in open ground in sunny spots as soon as it is practical to do so. This species has larger flowers than is usual, in fact it reminds me a bit of the related Pachycarpus species found in the grasslands of South Africa.  Every one who can should grow some milkweeds for our Monarch butterflies as their numbers have decreased in recent years.  There are a number of reasons why this is so, but one of them is that there are less milkweed plants for them to feed on especially in the agricultural areas of the midwest.  That being said, I do protect some of my more choice milkweeds such as this from milkweed aphids, bugs and caterpillars but I also leave plenty for the monarchs to eat elsewhere in the gardens.
Nearby the A viridis a penstemon, probably P. barbatus or eatonii, blooms along with various delospermas. New pads are appearing on a hardy opuntia grown from seeds.  Marauding mammals tend to not go near the cactus, I wonder why....

This ethereal thing is Silene virginica.  I believe this came from Plant Delights as "Jackson's Valentine" and was supposed to be longer lived than typical S. virginica.  Well it was by maybe a year but later rainy weather seemed not to suit it and I think it disappeared.  Maybe it made some seeds before its demise, I will have to see what happens this spring .  But I would try it again as I love the brilliant red flowers.  And sometimes a plant will do better in a different site since an element of luck is involved in gardening even when everything else is accounted for.
There are dianthus in many spots in my gardens.   I do have some plants that I got from Santa Rosa Gardens of newer varieties that I got during one of their amazing sales but I have to say that nothing beats the ones I grow from seeds like the ones below.  A plant of Epimedium wushanense can be seen nearby but I will move it to a shadier spot.  There are some small arborvitae trees on the other side of the brick walkway that send roots into this area and that may also be a factor affecting the epimediums.  I may very well get rid of the arborvitae soon as I need that corner for expansion of the South African garden anyway. 
In the South African garden Senecio sp Tiffendell continues its show.  The closeup shows the dark eyes very well.

This diascia continues blooming for a long while, favoring cooler weather as they all do.
Elsewhere Hirpicium armeroides opens white daisies in the sunshine.  It must be close relative of gazania as even the seeds bear a resemblence to gazania seeds.  It can slowly develop into a mat, and flowers off and on.  It is hardier than most gazanias, being found naturally in the high Drakensberg.
And speaking of hardy gazanias, the toughest of them all is G. linearis.  Usually yellow, sometimes with patterns near the base, it can cross with more typical ganzanias to produce hybrids of intermediate hardiness.  Gazanias all love sunshine and dry days, they abhore hot wet weather.
By mid June the annual Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and nigella are beginning to peak.
Senecio macrocephalus has an allotted section out front to itself but it does get around to various other spots.  I remove the excess plants but wait till after they flower as they are so pretty.
A closer look at the Cistus creticus flowers.
Digitalis purpurea is a great plant for difficult areas as it is vermin proof and quite showy in bloom.  Easy from seeds which can be started in pots and then set into the ground, or just scattered in spring where one wants them to grow.  Last year a promising display was thwarted soon afterwards by a fungus of some sort due to a prolonged rainy spell and crowded plants.  I thinned whatever the fungus didn't and the resulting plants came back strong and set plenty of seed for another generation.  They are biennial although there are strains that flower the first year if started early.   These are the older sorts which won't flower till their second year, but I have had some plants survive another year or two.  Plants don't read garden books.

Antirrhinum majus, the snapdragon, is another plant not on the menu of mammalian vermin and it can flower from June through frost.  In mild winters plants survive and bloom early, in harder winters they may die or be cut back severely and so need more time to recover and bloom.  They also self sow.
Iris fulva is one of the Lousiana Iris species which has been used to create yet another colorful class of iris hybrids.  Generally water loving sorts, they do fine in ordinary garden soil.  The coppery red flowers are certainly different than most iris. The seeds of this group of iris have a corky covering that can be peeled off when planting the seeds.  Most probably this covering serves to help them disperse by floating in water along rivers and other bodies of water in their native habitats. 
Chionanthus pygmaeus is an endangered plant from central Florida. I got my plant in a trade with another plantsman who grew his from seeds in another state.   I think my plant is a female since I didn't see any pollen and they come in different genders unlike most flowering plants.  It is a miniature version of its more widely grown cousin C. virginicus and thus more suited to my tastes as I usually don't like woody plants that overwhelm everything around them.  I added coarse sand to the spot it grows in as it occurs in sandy soils in its native habitat, where it is threatened with development as are so many plants in Florida and elsewhere.


In the front garden hot pink Silene armeria, also known as None So Pretty, bloom in the foreground.  I have the standard form and a very pale pink, almost white form known as "Aphrodite".  Both self seed readily and are winter annuals which bloom en mass in June, with some plants sprouting and blooming later as well.  I also grow the very closely related S. orientalis, which is barely distinguishable by a slightly more rounded flower head and a bit less of a tendency to self sow everywhere. The purple swathe behind that is the main colony of Senecio macrocephalus, a tough South African daisy that doesnt mind the sometimes mucky heavy soil in part of the front garden.  It also grows equally well in the areas I have amended with coarse sand.  

Closer to the walkway a ribbon of self sown Shirley Poppies add to the riot of color, and a plant of Osteospermum "Avalanche" is covered with large white daisies.


Crinum bulbispermum blooms along the front walk as does a form of Tradescantia virginiana with reddish violet flowers.  The flowers of the tradescantia need to be removed afterwards to minimize self seeding since it is fairly difficult to dig up once they get established. A kniphofia that is probably a hybrid of the two species nearby is sending up spikes.
A closer look at the Senecio macrocephalus patch in peak bloom.  White spires of Ornithogalum magnum rise above them.  Its a rather nice bulb that I got from Scheepers I think.  I saw they did not carry it this year, wonder why as it is easy and critter proof.  Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) and Shirley Poppies in reds provide more color closer to the street.
A closer look at the Osteospermum "Avalanche".  A dwarf yellow yarrow (Achillea) from Santa Rosa gardens is flowering nearby as is Silene armeria and a Dutch Iris.
Senecio polyodon is the third species of hardy perennial purple South African senecios that I grow and the first that was introduced to cultivation in the US.  Panayoti collected seed of it back in the 1990s and I have kept it going since from the original seed collection.   As with any Asteraceae it is self infertile so its important to keep a few plants around and to store seed as a backup in case the plants are lost or dwindle to a single individual.  It has smaller flowers than the other two species but grows a bit taller and flowers for a longer period of time than S. macrocephalus.  It can hybridize with macrocephalus but I rouge out the hybrids along with any macrocephalus that encroach into polyodon's allotted area.  It self sows but is not as strong a self sower as either of the other two species.  In nature it is found at high altitudes in wet areas so it doesnt mind the heavy soil in this spot.

Here nice specimens of seed grown Crinum bulbispermum that come from the Free State in South Africa put on a bold display with Senecio polyodon and Ornithogalum magnum behind them.

I planted seeds of Antirrhinum species I got from the exchanges and got a variety of colors on lower growing plants in this area.  These might be A. hispanicum or hybrids thereof, whatever they are I like them.
A closer view from above of Senecio macrocephalus.  It has the thickest and largest basal leaves of the three purple perennial senecio species I currently grow.
Agrostemma milas, the cultivated Corn Cockle, is a graceful winter annual with large flowers in pink or white,  Its really quite a gorgeous thing with an airy appearance.
The bold Verbascum bombyciferum came through the winter fine and was about to flower before collapsing into a pile of mush when some prolonged rain came afterwards.  I picked it up at Annies Annuals in California the summer before on a trip along with the Silene asterias behind it.  Saliva greggi "Furman's Red" survived the mild winter with no dieback or leaf loss and came into flower quickly.  It would not quit flowering until frost. I have planted other verbascums grown from seed elsewhere in the front which I expect to do better than this plant did.  Two hardy datura inoxia (wrightii) plants can be seen along the street.  They are quite tough and will begin to bloom soon afterwards.
For a short while in June Senecio macrocephalus makes quite a show.
Self sown Shirley poppies are everywhere in the gardens.  When they are past their prime and the seeds begin to ripen I pull up the plants and tear them apart and scatter them around to ensure that more will arise in future years.  
This long lived rare form of the naturalized roadside weed Lotus corniculatus, aka Bird's foot trefoil is a sparse bloomer compared to the single flowered version.  Like the common dandelion, Bird's foot trefoil would be a coveted garden plant if it were not so common.  It grows to perfection in sun blasted dry roadsides that are mowed to keep other plants from outcompeting it.  This double form which I brought from Oliver's Nursery in Connecticut is hard to find and most certainly will not take over the garden.  I have to work to keep neighbors from competing with it as it dislikes competition.  It will flower more abundantly if the weather is especially clear and sunny in June.  I haven't yet tried to propagate it but most likely division would be the way to go as I have never seen it set seeds.
A closer look at Ornithogalum magnum amid the senecios.   It flowers for a long time compared to most other spring bulbs.  Plenty of seeds are set but I haven't noticed self sowing yet, but would welcome it should it happen one day.
An area not far from the road has a handful of different thyme plants whih are mostly blooming at this time of year.  I added coarse sand to this area and have to keep taller plants from overrunning the thyme.  In hot wet weather patches of some of these varieties tend to die out.   Thyme likes dry and sunny conditions.  Another dwarf yarrow, this time in reddish orange, from Santa Rosa flowers nearby.
A closer look at None So Pretty, Silene armeria, with Shirley poppies along the front walk.

A trollius I grew from seeds and forgot about came into bloom.  Hard to miss it when it does so.
Kniphofia pauciflora is very rare in its coastal habitat and should not be as cold hardy as it is.  I do give it protection but a little mulch is all it needs for winter.  It is more delicate than most of its relatives, and tends to bloom on and off from now through summer.
This old cabbage flowered rose came with the property and looks splendid for about one week in June.  Some days I think of removing it as it is an ugly lanky shrub prone to black spot when not in bloom but I have to admit the flowers are quite pretty.  However the newer "English" roses have the same lovely flower type on plants that repeat bloom unlike this one.  
Poppies and the Packera nearby the rose.



Delospermas can be so vivid in full sunshine when their flowers open wide.
Another NARGS seed cast off, this Edrianthus is not hard to grow.   Not sure of which species it is, I know it is not the absolute best of them but is is a forgiving thing.
Seed grown Kniphofia come into bloom.  These came from wild collected seeds and show variation, I think they are K. caulescens but kniphofias are sometimes hard to identify and may hybridize even in their natural habitats.

In the back the foxgloves continue their show along with various other flowers.
Penstemon digitalis is a tough eastern species which is not uncommon in fields not far from here.  I grew these from seed and lost track of what they were until they bloomed.  Knowing their vigorous nature I waited until they were seeding and removed them.  I cast the plants onto the other side of the driveway where they can compete with other vigorous flowers along a neighbor's wooden rail fence.
The kniphofia that I suppose is a hybrid between northiae and caulescens is in full bloom.  Around it rise the spikes of what I think is K. caulescens that is derived from seeds I got a long time ago from one of the German botanical gardens.
More kniphofia, in this case from South African seeds but probably also K caulescens, bloom in another area of the front garden. Pink Phuopsis stylosa forms a groudcover in front of them. 

Larkspurs (Consolida ajacis) come into peak bloom near the end of June.  Most of mine are the old fashioned single forms.  I much prefer them to the double forms that seem to be the only ones that seed suppliers offer.  I have a few of them too, mostly in the hopes that they will cross with the singles to widen the color palette.
The sand bed, which is basically a pile of sand, out front is planted with young hardy opuntias and surrounded by a blaze of colorful annuals.  Some perennials such as the white daisy Tanecetum corymbosum add to the display.




Some pale "Aphrodite" Silene armeria can be seen among the usual hot pink ones.
I got my first Geranium sanguineum album from Midge Riggs many years ago.  She was a well known member of our local rock garden club who passed away not so long ago.  Her plants live on in the gardens of others as is usually the case for most good gardeners after we depart this world.  To give away a plant is to both keep it (in case it is lost, someone else may be able to return it) and it is a reminder of that person.  I look at many plants in my gardens and collections and the first thing that often comes to mind is who gave it to me.  I am old enough to have outlived a few of these fine folks whom I am grateful to have known but their memories live on in my gardens and those of other gardeners.
Helichrysum splendidum is the toughest of the hardy South African helichrysums and the least likely to be bothered by warm summer weather.  In harsh winters there is dieback, so the plants need to be pruned afterwards but after a mild winter dieback is minimal  and they can get huge.  This massive plant spills over a wall near the garage, full of buds which will soon become bright yellow mini strawflowers.   Not far away next to the house the variegated Arundo donax "Peppermint Stick" rises once again from its winter dormancy.  It will grow almost two stories tall by the end of summer.  It is a very attractive grass but not for small gardens.  I had to hack out chunks of rhizome last year to keep it from encroaching on neighbors, though it doesnt run as far and fast as the plain green form.  The latter can be a weed in some areas of the world.  It flowers very late so I have not seen seedlings so far, which is a good thing. 
In the back the rhododendron has finished blooming but kniphofias, the Packera I collected down south, Crinum bulbispermu, Silene armeria in typical and near white forms, and a small species of Hebenstretia that Panayoti collected many years ago bloom away.  The latter is a delicate plant with slender spikes of interesting white marked with orange flowers.  It survives mild winters but not harsh ones here, and resows if happy.

A closer look at the hebenstretia.  A curious fact is that I have no problems germinating it from stored seeds but I seem to have terrible luck getting any other species to germinate from what appear to be good seeds I have gotten elsewhere. 
The mystery Packera is really looking good in this photo with a backdrop of Kniphofia caulescens and a yellow snapdragon.
A closer look at Alyssoides utriculata.  A few flowers remain but by now most have turned into round seed pods.  It does self sow and individual plants appear to be perennial.
Marshallia is an American genus of mainly swamp loving daisies, all of which have very pretty pin cushion flowers in shades of purple or white.  Many are quite rare but all are easy to grow in the garden and from seeds if you can find them.  This one is M. grandiflora, next to it the Chinese Impatiens omeiana in one of its various forms rises from its winter slumber.  The wonderful patterned foliage belongs to Asarum takaoi, one of the smaller woodland gingers from Japan. It is much denser growing than most of them and is easy to divide once it clumps up.  A Begonia cucullata var. arenicola is emerging against the wall.  This is a form of the common begonia that comes from Argentina and possesses a certain degree of cold hardiness.  It can survive mild winters in protected locations here but won't make it through normal to harsh winters.  However it seeds prolifically and the tiny seedlings grow quickly in warm weather to become vigorous plants with masses of white flowers.  Later I had many of them coming up in the spaces between the slate on the patio closest to the house where many potted plants sit out the summer.  It comes up in pots too from dropped seeds so am constantly weeding them out of pots that are brought indoors for winter.   Still I like having it around and it is easy to remove where it is not wanted.
In a certain spot in the South African garden I dumped a lot of excess potting soil when repotting many South African winter growing oxalis and bulbs and mixed in some coarse sand with it. Many oxalis species came up that fall and looked good until the more serious frosts of late December got to them so I covered it with a couple of inches or so of wood chips  I removed them in spring and some of the oxalis resprouted.  This one is O. bifurcata, which in a pot grows long stems with pink flowers.  It remains to be seen how it will do under the more challenging conditions outside but it did come up again in the fall after a summer dormancy later in the year.
Asclepias purpurea is a really nice milkweed that is best grown from seed.  It doesnt wander all over the place like A. syriaca and flowers much earlier.   It is sometimes seen in nuseries and seed is available online although it often seems to sell out quickly.  This plant flowered very nicely but flopped over a few days later, so I had to stake it up.  I am not sure what happened, either the wind knocked it too hard or perhaps one of the hooved mammalian vermin got over the mesh fence and pushed it over.   It did fine afterwards and even made a fat seed pod, which itself is interesting as I thought Asclepias were not self fertile. Apparently some are as this is the only blooming plant I have of this species.

Oenothera is a genus with many very nice flowering plants with most of them native to the Americas with quite a number of them found in the US.  This one is O. missourensis, which I grew from NARGS seeds that I think I actually did request this time.  It makes short stems with huge bowl shaped lemon yellow fragrant flowers which are at their best in June.  O. missouriensis is native to the central states of the US as one would suspect from the name and it is a long lived reliable and tough perennial.  There is a silver leafed form which I got seed of recently which I am eager to grow.  Large four winged seed pods will form at the base of the flower and when they mature and dry the seeds can be picked out from them.  It does not make huge quantities of seeds like most other Oenothera that I have grown.

The bright orange wallflower is a western native species, Erysimum capitatum I think.  It looks nice in this spot with some self sown bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus)
This dwarf scabiosa is from left over NARGS seeds. It might be a dwarf form of Scabiosa caucasica. A bright blue Linum. probably L. lewisii is a wispy thing with thin stems with pretty flowers at the ends.
Amsonia is a genus of nearly indestructible long lived perennials which all bloom in spring in various shades of blue to white.   This one is A. tabernaemontana.  They can seed around but the clumps do not run, but get thicker with each passing year.   The seeds require stratification to germinate and the plants need decent sun and well drained soils.   Most are native to the US with a few outliers in Eurasia.  They can hybridize and it can be difficult to reliably identify certain species of them. Most have neat foliage that turns a nice shade of yellow before the plants die back for winter.
By the end of June the old fashioned rose is passing its prime but the flowers around it carry on a wild display of color and form.
In the South African garden a white form of Oxalis depressa, one of the few summer growing South African oxalis species, emerges and begins its summer long flowering period.   This clone came from the late Charles Craib who collected and introduced a large number of pelargoniums, succulents, and bulbs to cultivation.   I have the pink form as well and they can cross to yeild seeds; individual plants tend to be self sterile.  This species appears to be hardy but is at risk from digging small mammals like voles and chipmunks.  I keep backups in pots which go out on the patio for summer and are dried off for wintering indoors in the cool garage.
Helichrysum splendidum in the South African garden is coming into bloom.
The lacy leaved plant is South Africa's only indigenous wormwood, Artemesia afra.  It can grow robustly, especially after a mild winter when little dieback occurs.  The leaves are fragrant and are used medicinally in South Africa.  It is self fertile and can spread by means of small seeds dispersed in fall, although early frosts sometimes prevent seed maturation here. Unlike the far more aggressive Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris, this species does not run.   If they die back in winter I cut them back in early spring till I see some green wood, and sometimes I whack them back if they get too vigorous.  I recently moved a few to the front gardens as they are unappealing to deer and trouble free once established.
Poppies come into bloom behind Gerbera jamesonii.
Eumorpha sericea (or prostrata) continues blooming through the end of the month.  It spreads out and can be rooted from ground layered stems or cuttings can be taken.  

The hardy opuntias are quite showy in bloom but I did remove this vigorous plant afterwards as it was overrunning other plants.  I cast it over the mesh fence into an area between a wooden lathe fence behind which a hideously large Euonymous alata grows (but the neighbor probably has no idea its an invasive species on her side) and the mesh fence I put to keep deer out.  It has survived there through the winter so far so I will probably add some course sand around it so it can stay over there where it won't crowd out smaller cacti, delospermas, and lewisias nearby.
Barberton daisies, Gerbera jamesonii, are really lovely and bloom off and on all summer.   They need a thick mulch to survive winters and more than one clone is needed for seed set.

Midge Rigg's Geranium sanguineum album is in a couple of other spots in my gardens besides the massive plant in the front garden.

Hypoxis hirsuta is a native plant but there are many more species of hypoxis in southern and eastern  Africa than here in the US.  The related genus Rhodohypoxis only grows in South Africa and Lesotho, so I planted a few next to the hypoxis in the hopes they might cross one day.  There are naturally (and man made) hybrids between South African hypoxis and Rhodohypoxis so its worth a try. I planted out most of my rhodohypoxis this summer and protected them with wood chips.  We shall see how they weathered this current harsh winter soon, but they are also readily grown in pots which can be kept dry and cool for winter indoors.
I got rid of the hostas I found on this property as they were too inviting to the neighborhood deer, but I also added a few in the fenced back gardens.  This is one of the minature ones, I think I got it from Oliver's Nursery.
Martagon lilies (Lilium martagon) are odd in that they bloom early and tend to go dormant in summer here.  They take two years to show leaves from seeds and are slow to build up size but are good in semishaded areas.
Hirpicium armeroides and Gazania krebisiana both like sunshine and good drainage.
The hardiest of Gazanias, G. linearis, has linear foliage as would be expected.  It is from the high Drakensberg.
Phygelius aequalis is one of two species in this genus.  I am not really sure how the two species differ, but they cross readily and numerous cultivars are available in the US and Europe of this fine South African plant.  This one is descended from wild collected seeds brought back by Panayoti some years ago.  Phygelius grows near mountain streams in the Drakensberg so our wet winters do not bother it.  In cold winters it will die back to the base but resprouts quickly once the weather warms up.  Once they begin to flower they continue until frost.  Since the winter preceeding this photograph was mild, minimal dieback occurred so this particular couple of plants grew enormous this year in the South African garden.  Sunbirds pollinate them in South Africa but our native hummingbirds are well suited for the job here.   The seeds are small and take quite a while to mature in pods that somewhat resemble a larger version of what some penstemon pods look like. They are also easily propagated by cuttings and division of older clumps.  The only problem I have ever seen with them is that occasionally a few stems may wilt and die off during hot summer weather, but I have not seen it kill an entire plant yet.  I cut out any such stems as soon as I see them wilt.

As June comes to a close, Senecio macrocephalus seed heads begin to mature   The seeds will sprout immediately if it rains, so some thinning is a good idea. Even after harvesting many seeds from this patch plenty remain to ensure its continued presence in this garden.  Self sown seedlings that sprout this summer can reach flowering size by the following spring if given enough space to grow.
Tulbaghia violaceae comes in lavender and white, this is a clump with both but the white ones are blooming now.  I do protect them with a lot of wood chips for winter as they are very much worth having outside.  They flower all summer long and the onion flavored leaves prevent any pests from bothering them.  I grew quite a few selections from the Alpine Garden Society and Scottish Rock Garden Club, as well as from Silverhill Seeds and have of course lost track of what they are.  They hybridize anyway so its not always easy to be sure of what comes up  from seed anyway.  They also make great pot plants and I have some in pots.  They go out for summer onto the patio, then inside where they sit at the base of the light setups for winter growing stuff in the garage and get an occasional watering, just enough to keep the leaves green.  They cannot be totally dried off in pots for winter in my experience.
A closer look reveals that there is one odd flower here with double the usual number of petals. 
By the end of June the Kniphofia caulescens that came from an Index Semimum of a German botanical garden (I think it was Bonn, but it could also have been Munchen) is in full bloom.  This is one tough kniphofia which survived being hit with herbicide in a plot where I had them when I worked at NYBG, then when I moved them out of there to home they did fine despite competition from Norway Maple roots and being more shaded than optimal, and they have thrived through both harsh and mild winters at this house without needing protection.  They flower only once a year but make quite a show.  The only maintenance required is cutting off the battered foliage at the end of winter to improve the plants appearance.   They make seeds and also are easily divided.  A late stage inflorescence of what I think is a hybrid of this selection with K northiae is visible in the foreground.

Zingiber mioga is quite hardy, and the only hardy member of its genus as far as I am aware.  This plant is a selection I got from Far Reaches Farm which has darker than normal flowers in August, which is when this species blooms.  I gave it some winter protection until I am sure that it is as hardy as the normal yellow flowered one that I have a patch of (well actually two patches).   The normal form is nearby, lining one side of the driveway opposite from the bearded irises where hostas once existed until I removed them.  An annual daisy that came in a Chiltern's mix blooms along with some other annuals nearby.  I have to remove some of this daisy after they bloom as they seed around too much but a few plants are nice to have around at this time of year. Silene armeria "Aprodite' blooms nearby. 
This is one of the best of my seed collections, a dianthus from the upper Taroko Gorge in Taiwan along the road to Hehuanshan. It grows naturally along roadsides and in rocky areas in open areas in coniferous forest.   Some would call it Dianthus superbus but it is distinct from that more widespread taxon which is taller and leggier in my experience both growing seed from Japan and seeing plants in Sichuan Province in China.  It may be Dianthus pygmaeus or Dianthus (superbus var) taiwanensis, but whatever it is its a magnificent thing when in full bloom.  It forms thick clumps bearing lavender fringed petaled flowers in June, with sparser reblooming aferwards.  Plants can bloom their first year from seed, and they appear hardy in our climate.  Like other dianthus in my gardens they do self sow.

Another rhodohypoxis that was planted out the fall before.  I tested a couple of them outside and then put almost all the rest outside later this summer.
Linaria reticulata is another delightful small growing cool season annual.  Its screaming magenta and yellow flowers are produced for a good month or so and there is always a plant blooming somewhere until frost.  It is not as likely to resow well as L.marrocanna so its good to save a few seeds in case.
This brick patio is now a "crevice" garden, the latest fad in rock gardening. Most of what is growing here was self sown, though I have added a few things as well.  I make good use of my hori knife to weed between the bricks and sometimes to plant new things in the "crevices".  It is apparent to me that certain plants do far better in this environment than in the open garden, perhaps because they naturally occur on rocky cliffs in crevices.  While the bricks probably heat up in summer, the roots can go deep to reach cooler soil, and in winter the bricks probably buffer against extreme cold.   Some South African helichrysums do especially well here, including H. basalticum and H. foetidum.  This winter I see apparent hybrids between them which is good since the first species is both more cold hardy and longer lived than the biennial H foetidum.  Cotula sp Tiffendell, originally grown from seeds I collected with Panayoti from Lake Hendrick Park in Denver, has found a home here.  It persists in the walled garden above but really thrives best in the crevices where its yellow button like flowers appear all season long.  But they are at their best in June.
Helichrysum foetidum is the larger leaved plant below, it will flower in yellow or red/pink then set seeds and die later on.  H. basalticum makes little silver leaved tufts from which decumbent stems spread outwards before flowering. A Delosperma floribundum has also found a home in the crevices.  The winter before was so mild that there was no damage to either helichrysum species, at least in this patio.  The current winter is harsher and there is some foliar damage but both species will continue to do fine from what I can see. They both self sow abundantly here and some need to be removed to ensure that individual plants have enough room to grow well. 

Berkheya purpurea begins its long season of bloom.  This amethyst colored thistle daisy come from South Africa as do most members of the genus.  It was the first to come into cultivation in the US and is arguable the easiest one as well.  It is cold hardy, can flower the first year from seeds, and will self sow if happy (and more than one clone is grown as it is self sterile).  Its main bloom period is late June but there are always plants of it in flower on this property somewhere until near frost. Harvesting and cleaning seeds from berkheyas is a labor intensive b*ch because they are prickly and the spined sepals partially curve upwards as the seeds mature so one has to prod the "cup" with tongs or a stick to get the seeds to release after harvesting the dried seed bearing stems.  Then cleaning presents similar problems, there are broken spines to watch for.  I blow on the seeds on a piece of paper to separate the lighter chaff and hollow infertile seeds from the heavier fertile seeds.
I got this bright blue echium from leftover NARGS seeds but thought it was gentanoides but it turned out to be the more common Viper's Bugloss, E. vulgare.  It is a pretty biennial but I removed it after flowering because it produces masses of seeds and it is another prickly plant that can be difficult to remove without gloves.  I should have suspected something when the rosettes sailed through winter without trouble, as the most choice echiums are not supposed to be winter hardy here (with the exception of the lovely red flowered ones from Russia and Europe).  In a wild garden this E. vulgare would be a good bee plant, all it needs is sun and a fairly dry position.  It finds that along certain stretches of Interstate 81 down in West Virginia and Virginia where it thrives among other roadside weeds.  
Linaria purpurea is one of those English garden things I did not quite understand what all the fuss was about.  There are a few different color forms and the first year I grew them out front they looked so miserable I pulled them out and made some comment on facebook about them.  But a plantsman whose expertise I trust assured me that they are worth growing so I tried again, as seed is always freely available from the various rock garden seed exchanges. This time the result was much better, the individual flowers are still tiny but a well grown plant looks quite nice with substantial numbers of these flowers on ever lengthening spikes for a long period of time.  They probably look best in cool summer climates but I like these enough to want to keep them around and try the other color forms too.
Cone flowers belong to the genus Echinacea.  This is a genus with no "dogs" in the whole lot so any species is worth growing.  They do hybridize readily and there are some really beautiful named hybrids between the single yellow species E. paradoxa and E. purpurea.   I grow a few of those too and they do well here, but I have read and heard that they do not fare so well in warmer climates.   In my sister's garden in North Carolina she finds them to be short lived, maybe because of the heat or perhaps because of the clay soils or some combination of both. The species are tougher and here they thrive, this one being E. laevigata, a rare species from a few eastern states. There are two issues echinacea can have here, one is that deer will occasionally eat the flowers (so spraying with Liquid Fence or some other repellent is necessary in unfenced areas) and there is a mite (eriophyid mites) which distorts the inner florets so that the central cone has ugly spikes sticking out.   The mites can be controlled by cutting off affected flowers and disposing of them in the garbage.  I think an acaride might work too but if used one should make sure that the acaricide is specific to mites and not insects as bees and butterflies are frequent visitors to echinacea flowers.
Spigelia marilandica is a native of the southeastern states which makes a superb garden plant.  The unique red and yellow flowers appear mainly in late June.  The plants appear long lived and can be grown from cuttings.  Seed is set but they are ejected from the pods when ripe so it is hard to collect them. They are also not particularly easy to germinate and so far I have not found any self sown plants.  This plant is a selection from Plant Delights called "Little Redhead".  It is a bit more compact than the typical form.  Around it rise Impatiens omeiana and what may be Impatiens  qingchengshanica, a pink flowered species of uncertain identity with a long back spur.  A pyrola I collected somewhere seems to have established and even is blooming at the edge of the photograph.  They are considered difficult to cultivate but I took care to make sure there was plenty of woodland duff with it and also added peat moss and coarse sand to the spot I put it in.  Impatiens bicolor seedlings are coming up against the house and have already been thinned once by this time to keep them from overwhelming what is in front of them.

The white form of Impatiens arguta, which I got from "Mr Impatiens" Derick Pitman, the authority on all things Impatiens, has done well outdoors in this spot.  I do protect it with a generous wood chip mulch in winter, so far it came through two winters.  It has white flowers all summer long, but can get spider mites in hot dry weather so an acarcide may be needed in such weather if the mites appear.  Other than that all it needs is good moist soil and some shade.  Unlike the lavendar flowered form of this species this one sets plenty of seeds.  I suspect the lavender form I have may be a hybrid as it grows similar to the white but I got literally one seed off my plants of it this year. All of these perennial impatiens do best in cool summer and fall weather.
I have a thing for impatiens as they are beautiful and very varied and there are numerous species, many of which are still not in cultivation and some still to be discovered.  These are seedlings of Impatiens namchabarwensis, the Tibetan blue impatiens that I have written about in previous blog posts.  It has some allotted areas where it can predominate over other annual impatiens such as I bicolor, balfourii, and glandulifera which I remove if they invade this area.  All three grow taller than namchabarwensis so I keep the competition down by pulling them out which is easy in the case of annual impatiens.   They have shallow roots and don't usually break if pulled so excess plants are not a problem to remove or relocate for any of them. I namchabarwensis will begin blooming soon, and continue until frost, but it will be at its best when summer cools down in September. A hepatica with mottled leaves from West Virginia nestles amongst the impatiens.  The impatiens will provide some shade for the hepaticas and also serve as indicator plants to let me know when watering is needed as as impatiens wilt quite readily when the soil is too dry.
Aquilegia chrysantha is the tallest species I grow and one of the longest flowering ones too.  It comes from the southwestern mountains but finds New York to its liking.  It also flowers late, from June into July.  There are some crosses in this group, probably with the red flowered western A. formosa.   All are beautiful plants.


This oddity came up from a bunch of old refrigerated seeds I mixed together and threw onto the ground near the driveway.  I think it is Cerinthe minor, an annual from Europe.  The leaves and peculiar flowers are interesting and I hope it resows so I can see more this coming June.

Late June and its still a riot out front.  Larkspurs are at their very best.  They dont flower for long but are so easy to grow by the sow and forget method.  The only significant issue they have, other than overcrowding when they self sow, is a powdery mildew that strikes when the weather is unusually wet and the plants are too close together.  Thinning them helps reduce this problem as does cooperation from Mother Nature in regards to the weather--dry and sunny is better.
The ploegbreker, Erythrina zeyheri, emerges well after danger of frost.  It is the only species of Erythrina that is totally herbaceous, the rest are shrubs or trees.  It forms a massive lignotuber which accounts for the name "plow breaker" in Afrikaans as it is well known to farmers in the highveld where it is found.  In nature it tends to prefer areas that are moist in summer and dry in winter.  Here I protect the tuber by planting it fairly deep and then using a thick mulch of wood chips to prevent deep freezing during winter.  Not all plants will flower and I do not know why some flower and others do not. Which ones of the three I have outside will bloom in any year seems to be a random event.   The bright red flowers appear only in early summer and if hand pollinated a few long string beans will set, each containing a single large brown seed, rarely more when mature.  Tony Avent of Plant Delights once wrote that this did not survive in North Carolina but I suspect that may be due to the summer heat more than their winters.  It comes from an area where summer temperatures only occasionally get above the 80s Fand nights are cooler than the days.  Its large leaves are susceptible to spider mites in hot dry weather so an acaricide may be needed then, or just hit the leaves with water from a hose.
In the South African garden Senecio species Tiffendell is setting seeds.  It is a better repeat bloomer than the other two perennial purple senecios. 
Meanwhile in the school garden Pelargonium luridum comes into bloom, as it has for several years now.  These grow right against the wall with no other protection.  Only one clone is present so no seeeds set but I hope to remedy that one day with other clones I am growing from seeds.  This species is quite common in the summer rainfall areas of South Africa and continues up the mountains into at least Tanzania if not further north.  It is frost hardy if the tuberous roots are protected from deep freezing, which can be accomplished by planting against a warm wall or covering them with a protective mulch in winter.
Nearby the P. luridum plants, a single plant of Melianthus villosus resprouts again from the roots.  It has flowered once in several years in this spot, but the leaves are interesting and smell like peanut butter.  It always surprises my students when I let them smell the leaves.   Nearby a Fuchsia magellanica begins its long blooming season.  It also dies back every year but comes back stronger than ever the following spring.
I got this Ixia hybrid, Yellow Emperor, from a friend to try in the garden. It was nice but I don't think it will survive long term here, even with winter protection.   But there is only one way to find out for sure.
As June comes to a close and July is about to begin, the first hybrid daylilies begin to bloom.  These are seedlings from crosses I made with "Pennysworth", the smallest daylily cultivar I know of.  They are not as small as that cultivar and the colors are not amazing, but perhaps the F2 seeds will produce something more interesting.  If one could get plants and flowers the size of  "Pennysworth" but in different colors they would be perfect for rock gardens and planters.
Berkheya cirsiifolia is even more prickly than B. purpurea but still very much worth having.  Its white flowers appear mainly in late June but a few might be seen later in summer.  It can also self sow when happy. Behind some B. radula can be seen, they have yellow flowers on a less prickly plant. I have a white flowered plant which is either B. radula or a hybrid between it and B. cirsiifolia.
A closeup of Helichrysum splendidum in full bloom. 
A close cousin of Helichrysum splendidum, this species is from Silverhill but I lost track of which one it is.  It is equally hardy if not more so but does not grow as vigorously as H. splendidum.  It looks a bit more like a weird decumbent rosemary plant.

This hardy opuntia has nice orange centers in the flowers.
Dierama species and hybrids grow well in the UK and Ireland, but these South African plants are rarely seen outside of the Pacific northwest here in the US.  But they are often hardy with a little help from a winter mulch and very long lived.  They are best grown from seeds, which are readily available from Silverhill and Chilterns and Plant World Seeds in the UK as well as the rock garden society seed exchanges.   They are best kept inside for their first winter and not dried off completely then.  Plant them deep their second or third year and mulch well in winter.   The foliage is evergreen in mild climates but dies back here or is damaged and best cut back in spring.  The purple, pink, red, burgundy, or white flowers are hard to photograph but exquisitely graceful as they dangle in the slightest breeze.
The beginning of July means the daylily season is getting into high gear.  This one is a seedling that I grew.   They are easy to cross and grow from seeds, even the uglier ones are not bad looking but it is rare to get a plant notably better than what has already been produced by others.
On the slate patio a big pot of Hymenocallis harrisiana comes into bloom.  The bulbs have filled the pot and need to be replanted next spring as the pot is actually bulging from all the bulbs in there.  Hymenocallis open in the evening and emit a powerful fragrance which attracts hawk moths to pollinate them.   They are dried off for their winter rest indoors.
Not far away a flashy pink hippeastrum hybrid is blooming.  I got it from Jerry Barad's greenhouse when the last plants that weren't sold at the auction and raffle last July or before that needed to go.  So I went up there a couple more times with my friend Andrew while Tom Cowell let us go through and take what we could.  There were lots of cacti, haworthias, sansevierias, and a clivia and some hippeastrums among assorted large vines, agaves and succulents still in the center beds.  I have a large number of plants that Jerry has given me over the years and now even more from the raffle event.  I took what I could handle, barely, from the greenhouse as its days were numbered after he passed away.  He would be pleased to know that so many people from all over are growing his plants, let alone the several botanical gardens he bequeathed a large number of impressive specimens to.  This hippeastrum hasn't even been repotted since I got it but it decided to impress me with these huge bright pink flowers.   It will get repotted this coming spring, its a worthy reminder of the many annual visits I made over the years to see two of my favorite people, Jerry and Bea Barad.
Sometimes you try something that looks good in its little pot and come up with a winner.  I would describe Scutellaria scordifolia "Mongolian Skies" as such a plant.  It has the most wonderful dark blue flowers and slowly grows into a low growing mat.  So far it thrives in its spot and I hope it is as long lived as it is beautiful.



A dierama species rises above some annual umbellifer whose name I have forgotten, but it keeps coming back from seed every year.  Bright orange Asclepias tuberosa,, the Butterfly weed, can be seen in full bloom too.
The ploegbreker begins to bloom in the front near the house.  Its an event when this comes into flower.
A less flashy scutellaria, S. ovata from Enchanter's Garden (now Wood Thrush Native Nursery since they moved from Hinton WV where I visited them a couple of times to their new location not that far away in Floyd. Virginia) thrives in shale barren habitats in WV and Va and and likes this spot in soil amended with coarse sand.  Its leaves are pretty too, and it is not invasive in the least.
Back on the patio a potted crinum comes into bloom.  It may be Crinum macowanii, I'd have to check the tag next time it blooms.  Crinum flowers do not last long but they often repeat bloom during the summer and most have a nice fragrance. 
A "spider" form hemerocallis, or daylily, comes into bloom.  It resembles "Kindly Light" an old one and might be it or something else.  I think this one came from Greg Petrowski when he was giving away extras from the breeding beds he was working with when I also worked at NYBG.  They no longer breed daylilies but still have a collection of mostly older varieties there, including some of the original Stout cultivars.  When we moved I dug up all the daylilies I had, many of which had no names, and brought them here.  I planted some along the chickenwire fence of the original vegetable garden on the property (now the strip of lawn between that garden and a walled garden is the vegetable garden but the daylilies occupy the part by the fence, and some in the original vegetable garden. I also obtained more daylilies, many from seedlings of mine that grew in the school gardens, some from Andrew that he potted up when he moved and could no longer have a proper garden, and some new ones from Marietta Gardens and Obannon Springs and made a special bed for them on the other side of the original vegetable garden. I added a few to the flower beds as well.  In July they really strut their stuff.
Helichrysum basalticum comes into bloom as July begins.

The pale cream flowers of Kniphofia brachystachya soon turn black, making it an interesting rather than lovely subject.  Its leaves are grassier looking than most, and it is easy to grow and flower. Clumps are readily divided and plenty of seed is set by this rather low growing species.
This is a very late blooming iris that I am pretty sure is I. giganticaerulea.  I must have grown it from SIGNA seeds, and the seeds have that corky covering characteristic of the Lousiana iris group.   Its quite showy and tall, does fine in the garden and probably would love being by water even better.

A single plant of Berkheya cirsiifolia is far from the rest in another garden, behind it Lunaria annua "Corfu Blue" seedpods begin to form. A small kniphofia, most likely K. hirsuta blooms just behind it.
Hesperaloe is a commonly planted thing in Arizona and is native to the southwestern deserts and Mexico, but it is completely cold hardy.  Place it in a sunny spot in gritty soil and eventually it will flower.  Typically the flowers are red, but I also have a yellow form.  They are not the speediest of growers in our climate but are easily grown from seeds and plants are available from places like High Country Gardens.
By the beginning of July the seeds of Crinum bulbispermum are nearing maturity.  These pods will break open eventually, yielding several big round green seeds each. The flower stalks naturally lay down on the ground as the seeds develop.  In nature water might roll them some distance from the parent plants.
Helichrysum foetidum comes into bloom in its red/rose pink colored form.  It will bloom for several weeks.


In the bird bath trough garden, the recently planted Delosperma congestum sends out a later than usual flower.
In what was called a koi pond when we got the house, the waterlilies begin to bloom. The "koi" are just goldfish, a few of them might even be slightly fancy, but when they get big racoons and or herons seem to get them.  They subsist with an occasional supplementary feeding in the murky waters of this rectangular pond.  It leaked soon after we got the house so I drained and cleaned it and a guy from my school redid the concrete and plaster and added the lining I brought online.  I should cut the lining where it flops over the edge of a couple of walls but I havent done so, as I like the added protection from the elements it provides for the  two exposed walls of the pond.  One waterlily was already in the pond when we got here, but I have added several new ones from Texas Water Lilies.  I plant then in big pots of mucky soil and put a rock or two on top of the rhizome so they don't float and then sink the pot slowly to the bottom.  They are totally hardy, stopping all growth only when they freeze then they resume growth quickly from where they left off when it warms up in spring.  The only pest that I have seen are aphids that can get on the leaves but I saw them only once and hosing them off seemed to help, probably by allowing the goldfish to get to them.
Phlox grayi is a western species that makes a nice compact plant in gritty soil in a sunny spot.  I don't know how long it will persist here but I hope it is for a good while.  Got this from High Country Gardens.  Nearby Ruschia hamata grows and Cuphea glutinosa is in flower on the other side.
Cuphea glutinosa came from Plant Delights and is not hardy here most of the time but it readily comes up from self sown seeds.  It blooms all summer long.
Crassula sp, probably setosa in one of its myriad forms, is a hardy species from the Drakensberg.  It turns red in winter and seems to fall apart but it quickly reroots in spring, turning green and making lots of small white flowers.  Best in gritty soils and sun with attention to keeping nearby plants from outcompeting it.
These Phlox paniculata plants are derived from some I collected on top of East River Mountain in Bluefield WV some years ago.  They bloom and produce plenty of seeds which are ejected when ripe.  Swallotail butterflies love this plant as do hawkmoths.
Iris ensata, the Japanese Iris, does best in wet areas.  I really need to move this one, it does fine in this spot but the large flowers get caught in the chicken wire nearby.   They do fine in good garden soils as long as they don't get dry for too long.
Another look at a dierama.
This kniphofia, probably hirsuta, blooms in front of Artemesia afra in the South African garden.
The daylily season is underway as we move into July, this one is probably Lullaby Baby, a very nice older variety.
Another kniphofia in the South African garden, maybe K. linearifolia, comes into bloom while Zantedeschia rehmanii blooms further behind it.
Crocosmia "Paul's Best Yellow" is indeed the best yellow one I have seen.  It is not that tall but quite bold.  I got it from Far Reaches Farms which carries a good selection of crocosmias.  Even more varieties are available in the UK where most of the active hybridizing in this genus has gone on.

Temperatures begin to climb as June ends and July begins, and that suits Musa basjoo just fine.  It grew back rapidly from the roots again this year, with many new offsets too.   It gets really big and I may need to move it from so near the house.   It likes the protected spot but it will probably do fine elsewhere as it is self mulching and quite hardy.  I just don't want to contemplate the prospect of actually having to dig it out (surely a major task even in early spring which would be the best time to tackle it) and also I have no idea where else to put it.

The ploegbreaker is at peak now.
Nearby Zantedeschia albomaculata comes into bloom.  I collected this years ago near Nottingham Road in the Natal midlands, and it seems to be the hardiest of calla lilies.  It is easily grown from seeds and multiplies from tubers.
Wahlenbergia undulata begins its long season of bloom.  Mild winters favor the survival of the wandering thin rhizomes, but they are quick from seeds as well.   Tiny seeds are produced in abundance and the plants recover quickly when it warms up.
Phlox maculata is quite pretty, well all phlox are actually, but it is hard to find the true species.  It does have one fault though, it sometime falls prey to powdery mildew soon after flowering especially if the weather is wet. It is not as aggressive as Phlox paniculata.
A closer look at the odd flowers of Kniphofia brachystachya.
Tritonia disticha is hardy, but the flowers are fleeting and delicate.  Clumpsform over time as the small corms multiply  The seeds are also easy to gather and grow.
Hemerocallis "No Where to Hide" is a cool one with dark veining from Marietta gardens.
Sisyrinchium palmifolium needs protection through our winters but rewards the effort with big yellow flowers in clusters.   It is a better garden plant than our native sisyrinchiums and not so quick to spread.
Helichrysum basalticum again.  They are coming up everywhere in patio crevices from self sown seeds.

2 comments:

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

FanFUCKINGtastic you bastard. I've never seen so many goddam fabulous flowers on a blog post, or in a goddam garden in my life. If I didn't worship the ground you walk on I'd have you murdered. You make me swear like a longshoreman. Bravo, brother!

I can't wait to see your garden in snail time!

I bow down deeply before you!

geranios said...

LOL, you probably have noticed this beast of a post isn't even finished yet. I am adding text each day till its done, it seems June was a busy month indeed. I am honored by your words, including the swear ones :) You should come visit sometime soon!