Summer has well and truly arrived in my corner of Northeastern Pennsylvania, with bright sun, high temperatures (mid-90s!), and humidity, and the flowers in the rock garden have responded colorfully!
The southern end is anchored by a clump of Dianthus. A few Allium moly gracefully hover nearby.
A few feet to the right, Salvia ‘May Night’ is blooming. These plants have lost some vigor over the past few years, and suffered a bit of woodchuck damage earlier this season. I hope the attention I’m giving this bed this summer will result in healthier Salvia next spring! I’ve planted a couple of Canna bulbs in this area for later summer interest. Fingers crossed! Did you notice the Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) rosettes in the upper left corner? They came from the garden of the mother of a good friend of mine about seven years ago. Aren’t they sweet?
The middle section of the rock garden is still largely green. Rosa ‘Alba Meidiland’ is loaded with buds, though, and I suspect she’ll be stunning in a week or two!
Nearer the north end, two Penstemon (Beardtongue) are in bloom. The shorter, dark pink one is ‘Riding Hood Marble Cream’, in its second season here. The tall one is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’. I bought this plant from my favorite farm market vendor five or six years ago, and this is the best it has ever looked!
My ‘Husker Red’ stands thirty inches tall with a two foot spread. Its leaves are deep, glossy green to maroon. Stalks of tubular white flowers bloom atop its burgundy stems in late spring to early summer. It is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8 and prefers full sun. It can withstand dry conditions. The color of its foliage makes it a plant of interest even when not in bloom. I’ll let you know in the coming weeks how long the flowers last!Just tonight I read that the name Penstemon is derived from the five stamen each flower contains! I’ll have to take a close look at them and do some counting tomorrow!
A vibrant clump of Dianthus is in full bloom just to the right of the Penstemon. These make me so happy!
And here is the north end of the bed. The rhododendron is done, and I nipped off all of its spent flowers. Time consuming, yes, but it does look much tidier now! In the front, some annuals (Dianthus, Salvia, and Marigolds) are getting established and will (hopefully) provide summer-long cheer. I’m quite pleased to see two Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) blooming as well. If you’ve been following along each Tuesday, you’ll see I’ve done a fair amount of work at this end, pulling out copious amounts of weeds, laying down shredded hardwood mulch, and removing two wheelbarrow loads of Virginia Creeper from the latticework. I really need to venture under the deck with the clippers and a jug of weedkiller to attack the creeper at its roots, but it’s dark and damp under there, and my imagination is irrational and vivid! I’ve planted a few Canna bulbs (courtesy of Frank from sorta like suburbia) in this area too, and can’t wait to see how they do!
A friend recently complained that she has too much Foxglove in her garden! “No such thing!” I said. This is Foxglove ‘Candy Mountain’. It is celebrated because its blooms face outward and up, rather than drooping down. The bumblebees love it!
I regret to tell you that the tag for the next one is in the garden, and it is now pitch dark outside, so if you want to know its name, you’ll have to visit again next week! Its blooms also face out and up, so it may be a different color of ‘Candy Mountain’. I find it interesting that it has formed a clump with several bloom stalks, rather than one individual stalk. It sure is pretty, don’t you think? (Update: The tag says ‘Apricot Beauty’. I have my doubts.)
I’ll end this with a shout-out to Cathy, who writes the finely crafted blog Words and Herbs and hosts this dedicated weekly view of one particular garden each summer. If you haven’t visited her site yet, do yourself a favor and click on the link! I promise you won’t regret it! See you next Tuesday!