Six on Saturday – 08/08/2020 – Summer with a Hint of Fall

It’s been a pretty lovely week in the garden: a bit of rain early on, enough to fill the rain barrels and keep the tomatoes and beans happy; a lot of sunshine to keep the roses and zinnias and peppers happy; new blooms loaded with pollen to keep the bees happy. Every Saturday, The Propagator encourages gardeners around the world to share six things that are happening in their garden – here’s my garden’s contributions this week.

I was doubly surprised by this red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea, syn. C. stolonifera). Not only did it decide to send out several very late flower clusters, but at the same time one of its leaves has turned a very bright red – something I wouldn’t expect until the end of September. This native shrub shows up all over here thanks to seeds spread by birds eating the berries. It can also be easily propagated by sticking a branch in moist soil or layering.

My hardy Hibiscus – Lord Baltimore I think – has finally started to bloom. Like other hardy Hibiscus (i.e. Rose of Sharon – Hibiscus syriacus) it’s late to start in the spring and late to flower in the summer. Considered a perennial because it dies back to the ground every winter, mine is loaded with flower buds this year and the plant itself has more stems than every before AND, even in our very dry July, has not once started to wilt. I guess after four years its roots have navigated the rocky soil deeply enough.

My floribunda rose – Friesia – seems to have finally overcome the earwigs, chipmunks and other critters that stunted its growth this year. I moved it from a too shady spot last year and forgot to mound up its base in the fall (as we’re told we should over here) but I have high hopes for next year.

Starting to bloom this past week is the native perennial Ironweed – Vernonia gigantea syn V. noveboracensis. It’s easy to collect seeds in the fall and scatter where you want them to grow. The flowers appear at the tips of three to five feet high stems (depending on moisture levels) and butterflies love them. Not very drought tolerant, unfortunately, so you need to plant accordingly.

Also not very drought tolerant is another native, Sneezeweed – Helenium autumnale. The beautiful yellow flower is usually found along the banks of streams or marshes so I guess I shouldn’t be too disappointed when, in drier summers, it doesn’t reach its normal height or bushiness. Still, it’s quite pretty this week.

I’ve been moaning about the state of my Zinnias this year – eaten by bugs, stunted by drought, pitiful looking compared to a gorgeous and overflowing patch started by a friend down the road. Blah blah blah! I have a few quite lovely ones growing amidst the watermelon vines, and I’m quite taken by the purple polka dots and the pineapple centre of the top photo, as well as the so subtle peachy shade of this one.

I hope everyone has a great weekend – stay safe!


  1. I was surprised to see your ironweed’s a native. I just found a new native species in our hill country that’s (to my eye) even lovelier than the more usual varieties. I once found Hibiscus syriacus in an opening in some relatively deep woods. I couldn’t help wondering if it wasn’t a left-over from an old homestead.

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  2. Nice! Ironweed actually grows here, not in my not moist garden. I think your Zinnias are looking good and did not realize where the Red Osier Dogwoods come from, I am betting beautiful in a month or so? Never seen Lord Baltimore though familliar with the Shrub Altheas of the south. Your garden is looking great!

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    1. Thank you – it’s been a bit cooler with a few drops of rain now and then – does wonders! Yes, the dogwood will compete for a few days with the bright red sumac leaves. Blink, though, and they’re gone!

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  3. Ironweed and sneezeweed are pretty cool natives.
    Your Cornus stolonifera looks very different from ours, but is thousands of miles away. I suspect that they must be regionally variable, even if of the same species.

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      1. I like them because they look less refined than garden variety species, which is how natives probably should look. (Of course, I also like them because they are native to the region.)

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  4. Love the colour on that last Zinnia (and the polka dots, too, on the first). I simply love Zinnias. I want to grow Ironweed as it is said to be good for attracting Monarchs– there are moist spots in the meadow that might work. I just need to find some seeds.

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  5. You kept the best till last. The peachy zinnia is da bomb. I’ve never grown zinnia but I’m tempted by so many beautiful accounts of them, despite the dangers. Seed list for next year, perhaps.

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