Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Thanks to a really hot June, a lot of plants are out of whack here and they think it's mid-August already. The Russian Sage is in full bloom, and the asters aren't far behind. Blue Mist spirea can't wait either. I predict I'll be at the garden center in August buying leggy petunias to fill in the bare spots. The good thing is I've been eating Roma tomatoes for a couple of weeks now and didn't have to wait till summer is practically over to see some ripe ones. Oh, a lost opportunity the other day: I was sitting on the back porch caning a chair and kept hearing a "ticking" sound. I knew there was a Black-capped chickadee flying back and forth to the sunflower seed so I didn't think anything about it. When I finally looked up from my weaving there was a Broad-tailed hummingbird buzzing the empty sugar-water feeder. I'd taken the feeder out of the garage that morning and set it on the bench thinking I'd fill it later on. I zipped into the house and quickly made up some sugar water but of course the hummer didn't come back. The darn bird is punishing me, I'm sure.

Here's a double-flowering pink althea (Rose of Sharon) that's in full bloom in the front yard.
When I planted this several years ago, it was a twig and unfortunately, having no vision of the future, I planted a Butterfly bush about two feet away from it. (It's behind the Rose of Sharon in this photo). Both bushes grow to about 7 to 8 feet tall each year and they're a little too firmly ensconced to think about transplanting either one so it's always a race to see who can grow faster and get more space for itself. The Rose of Sharon won this year. The only time the buddleia hogged the whole area was the summer after a huge snowstorm mashed the althea flat and I had to chop it back to the ground. The Butterfly bush had some beautiful racemes that year, and the butterflies didn't need to play hide-and-seek with the Rose of Sharon to get to the goodies.


Annie in Austin said...

My butterfly bush used to die to the ground over winter in Illinois, but not the Rose of Sharon - does that have to restart every year where you live, too?

[in Tx they've had little or no dieback so far.]

Salix Tree said...

Oh Russian sage! I saw a similar plant last week in a churchyard, and went in to have a closer look. I had never seen anything like it, and was hoping to get seed off it. No luck. But I took a cutting, we shall see if it roots.
I didn't know what it was, and it smelled lavender-sagey to me.
So now I know! Spectacular plant!

LostRoses said...

Annie, I don't have to cut back the Rose of Sharon but the Butterfly bush definitely does not do as well unless I cut it back in the spring. It doesn't die to the ground but the canes get all bendy and nasty over the winter. That's the same reason I cut the Rose of Sharon back a couple of years ago but you'd never know it now.

Salix, glad you're trying Russian sage, or Perovskia. It's a stunner in the garden but the most amazing displays I've seen are the city-maintained roadside plantings of a whole group of them massed together. The color kind of shimmers as I speed by (craning my neck and trying not to get in an accident)!

Annie in Austin said...

I love Perovskia, too - have planted it at my last three houses. Lost Roses, that gardenia opened all the buds! It was so much fun to walk past & smell the fragrance. I don't think it was Jungle Gardenia at my all-girls' Catholic school - there was a lot of Heaven Sent going around one year.

I don't know why, but there seem to be many female bloggers with Catholic schools in their history. Shall we call it the May Crowning effect? Girls always brought the best flowers in the yard to school.

Barrie said...

This is the way Russian Sage is supposed to look! I remember when this plant was introduced (I think Perennial Plant of the Year in the mid-late 1990's) and in the South, it was (mostly) a disaster...too humid. I finally saw it growing in all it's glory in Chicago.

The key (after researching it back then) seems to be that this plant (despite the "russian" name is actually native to Afganistan and likes poorish soil, cold winters, and low humidty (Chicagoans really don't know what real humdity is).


LostRoses said...

Poor soil, cold winters and low humidity describes us to a t. Must be why Perovskia does so well here.
Gee, my first comment from a naked gardener, thanks for looking (and I didn't peek)!