August has been warm, frequently hot, often very humid, very dry with individual rain clouds passing over, dropping a few millimetres now and again, but nothing substantial enough to seep into the soil. In other words, the grass is dormant (brown), trees and shrubs are starting to shed leaves, perennials are droopy, tomatoes need watering. Nothing new for August.
Here are six things growing in my garden – some have been with me for many years, some are new-to-me this year. That’s the lovely thing abut gardening – discovering new plants, new varieties of a familiar plant, redesigning flower beds…the constant evolution and growth. It’s what makes spring so exciting, autumn so thoughtful, summer so peaceful and winter so hopeful. To see six things from tons more gardens around the world, check out The Propagator‘s site. He’s a friendly sort with his own ever changing garden.
1 – Here’s something new to me – Nigella ‘Midnight,’ started by pressing the teeny tiny seeds into the soil mid spring. I think the plant is an acquired taste, but it is growing on me, especially as it seems to be holding up really well without any supplemental watering. I’ll be sure to collect seeds since I’m not sure how hardy it is.
2 – Something ‘tried,’ but blooming anew. This Clematis has traveled with me from home to home for many years, and most recently it was stuck growing in the shade of a very tall cedar hedge, where it never bloomed. I transplanted it to a full sun location last year and it’s put out two flowers this year. For many years I laboured under the illusion that it was a Montana type. I searched high and low for its name, with no success. Until this past week, when I posted the picture on the left to my Instagram account (@CountyGardening) and I was promptly (and very nicely) informed that it was, in fact, a Texensis type. I was getting my American states mixed up! So here, finally blooming after a many year hiatus, is the luscious red Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty:’
3 – New to me, kind of, is this gorgeous Sempervivum – a large Hens and Chicks. It likely has some other long, Latin name, but I was happy to find it, unlabelled, at a garden centre in May. I put it in a small clay pot ad it’s resided on the side patio all summer. It’s just now sending out a load of ‘chicks’ and I have to fairly soon decide what to do with it for the winter…
4 – I love plants in the genus Silphium. They’re tall. They’re yellow. Pollinators and birds love them. They’re native to Ontario and central U.S. and have huge deep roots which help make them drought tolerant. Here is the tip of a flower stalk from Silphium laciniatum – Compass Plant – so named because it’s large, lobed leaves often are aligned on an east-west direction:
5 – Here’s a Helenium – Sneezeweed. I’m not sure of the variety but as you can see nothing fancy. I’ve had them before but they don’t seem to like competition…this one was purchased a few years ago in a small 10cm pot, and has grown a lot. I gave it the Chelsea Chop on July 1 so it’s just now blooming:
6 – Finally, something completely new to me and something I’m quite excited by – Opuntia humifusa – a Prickly Pear Cactus. Believe it or not, this is a true cactus and it’s native to Ontario, as in Canada! If you click on this link you can read all about where in Ontario it grows naturally (not in my region and, sadly, it’s a species at risk). My gorgeous plant was given to me by a lovey woman who was fearful its prickles may injure her dog. I personally discovered how painful the spines and bristles are, so her fears were well founded! It normally grows in a sandy soil, but I’m hoping it will survive my winters anyway. I’ll let you know in the spring, when I hope to see lovely yellow blooms, followed by edible fruit. Here it is now in its new home: