Mid-July at Chickadee Gardens

Last week we explored some water-loving plants such as hydrangeas and fuchsias, especially since the weather in the Pacific Northwest has been mild and wet so far this summer. This week we have had a few sun breaks and a bit of warmth so I give you highlights of sun-loving plants mid-July at Chickadee Gardens.

First up, a few plants in the gravel garden. Agastache 'Kudos Mandarin'. I was so impressed with it last year that I planted a second. I really like the compact habit and long color period for this hummingbird mint.

Berkheya purpurea or South African thistle seems to enjoy the dry garden. It has sent up multiple stocks of lilac purple flowers; its definitely an interesting plant that draws attention.

More of the gravel garden with Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass, which adds much movement.

A new-to-me Agastache - A. 'Kudos Red' just planted in the mounds to add some reds and oranges to the very outer edges of the garden, a project I am working on this summer.

One more agastache - Agastache 'Apricot Sunrise' between two Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' shrubs. This one is much taller than the 'Kudos' series, but elegant with a very clear peach color.

 A NOID Clematis given to me by my boss, Maurice of Joy Creek Nursery.

Achillea 'Terra Cotta' by far my favorite achillea.

Campanula rotindifolia, a sweet little perennial at the edge of the meadow.

Agastache 'Licorice Candy' was a throw away from work last fall, I wasn't sure if it would make it. It is pretty tall and lovely, rising above many grasses in the meadow area, I'm so glad I have it.

Drumstick allium - Allium sphaerocephalon silhouettes in the meadow among grasses, achillea and other wildflowers.

A sea of creeping thyme in full bloom.

Romneya coulteri, Matilija poppy has bloomed. Parts of this plant have died out, others are green and growing well. I hope it finally takes hold in my garden.

Salvia o. 'Purpurascens' is very happy here (seen in three separate clumps in this photo). There are getting gigantic, I'm a little afraid! If they suddenly die out, as they sometimes do, I'll be left with massive holes in the garden. For now they are gorgeous and I adore them.

At the edge of the labyrinth garden with Pennisetum 'Karly Rose', Stipa gigantea and asters.

Verbena hastata, swamp verbena, would probably appreciate a less dry site, but it does fine here and reseeds in the meadow garden.

Two happy volunteers in the dry garden, Verbena bonariensis and Verbascum blattaria seeds make a nice contrast. Be warned, however, they are both prolific seeders but easy to remove if desired.

My newest favorite penstemon, Penstemon kunthii is a small evergreen shrub in mild climates such as mine. These simple matte, brick red flowers blend nicely and contrast with the foliage well. Hummingbirds love it, too. It blooms until first frost.

The edge of the labyrinth garden where I have reworked some of the plantings by removing all of Sedum 'Angelina' and replaced it and one rather large seedling of Eriophyllum lanatum (Oregon sunshine) with agaves and Penstemon pinifolius.

View from the labyrinth garden facing north. Ceanothus gloriosus 'Pt. Reyes' in the foreground, Salix eleagnos var. angustifolia is the large shrub in back.

Acanthus spinosus, various cistus and other sun lovers grace the entrance to the deck. The house faces south and with that metal siding, it gets incredibly hot.

A wider view with more cistus, Thymus 'Foxley', Panicum 'Cloud Nine' and Atriplex halimus, among others. All of these plants have thrived in this location with well-amended soil including much sharp gravel for increased drainage.

Artemisia frigida

Moving around to the front of the house, which faces north, the berm garden is looking rather lush this year. This has been the most challenging of all the major garden sites on our property due to the retaining wall which keeps the soil really wet in winter and it then dries out and becomes hard clay in summer. Also, in winter, this is in full shade but in summer it is in full sun. This photo was taken early in the morning so the sun hasn't reached it quite yet.

I have had to tweak the plantings several times, move things, add and remove others. I have added much compost and gravel at different times and the soil is finally loosening up and plants are responding.

Plants such as this NOID Opuntia sp. from my mother are very happy here.

As are the liatris and Gaura 'Belleza White'.

Moving down the berm garden to the warmer colors, this Lobelia tupa is quite stately. At its feet is a sea of sedums in bloom as well as three Calluna v. 'Firefly'. A rosemary that I inherited is on the left.

Annie pitching in.

And strolling through the sedums, as cats do.

Just one shot from the shade garden - what a good coating of rich compost does to clean up a photo opportunity. FM has been bringing me truckloads of compost one at a time from our local source and I use it up as fast as it gets here. We've had two units at a time delivered on several occasions, which would be nice to have, but it's such a mountain to deal with and this way, we use a little at a time and don't have to pay for a delivery fee. Win win!

OK, one last shade shot with Hobbes inspecting "his" shrub. He loves this thing for some reason.

Moving down to the south east corner of the property to the veggie garden, the beans are climbing their way up to the top. Once they begin they really take off.

At the edge of the orchard, the trees are caught in the morning sun. They are really starting to grow and look like a proper orchard.

And lastly, a critter story. We have a pair of quail that have taken up residence here, we adore them and protect them as best we can. We call them Jon Snow and Danerys. The other evening while we let the kitties out for their evening tour of the garden, I heard Jon calling loudly, very closely to the house. I looked out to see they had a whole bunch of babies! We quickly grabbed the confused kitties, tossed them into the house and realized that three of the babies had fallen into the fire pit (totally cold, hadn't been used in months). They kept running around and around until FM managed to gently scoop each one up and put them into this tub where I took a photo. How incredibly small they are! No larger than a big walnut! We brought the tub as near to mom and dad as we could, carefully tipped it on its side once we heard mom and dad calling. They ran to their family, a happy reunion ensued.

There's mom leading the babies away, although they are hard to see. What a relief!

The stories are never ending around here, just the way we like it. Stories of wildlife, weather, beans and raspberries. Kitties and FM stories, too. That's life here at Chickadee Gardens. We're happy summer is finally here.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you!


  1. How cute that Hobbes has a favorite shrub - LOL! Your garden sets the bar high, my friend - it looks fantastic, lush, and gorgeous. So glad you managed to reunite the Quail family. What a great story - keep'em coming!

    1. Ha! He does...he has a few, to be honest. Thank you for your kind words, my friend. We are very happy the quail family all reunited, we're very protective of the quail! xo more stories to come for sure.

  2. You garden is envy-producing in every season, Tamara. I love the Agastache but haven't had much luck with it the last few years, probably because I didn't give it enough water to get properly established. I'll have to try it again. Seeing the critters - domestic and otherwise - was fun too. At first glance, her face framed by grass, I thought Annie was a fox kit!

    1. Thank you, Kris! I was just thinking of you looking at the gorgeous hairy canary clover today. Yes, those Agastaches - we find at the nursery they need a shot of afternoon water, as they might experience in the SW where many are native to - those summer rains after hot mornings. Try again, once they are established they do fine with less water.

      Oh, those critters! We love 'em. That's funny you thought Annie was a fox kit..she kind of looks like one now that you mention it!

  3. My Annie would walk over ground covers too, all 60 pounds of her. Your garden is like a botnical garden only with a lot more personality. I love seeing your garden as you do. I also like all the critter stories. Imagine having quail chicks in your garden, Sweet.

    1. Aw, sweet Annie. All 60 lbs of her! Our critters like the plants, too, don't they?

      Your compliments are too kind! Really! Too many weeds (that I cleverly crop out of frame) for a botanical garden, but I appreciate the compliment, thank you!

  4. Hobbes and Annie look so at home in the the garden, and those baby quail! OMG!

    Oh and your Berkheya purpurea (!!!) I don't know why I keep passing that one up at Xera, I really need to just buy the darn thing!

    1. Those baby quail...SO CUTE!

      Yes, you need to get a Berkheya. Do it!

  5. Gotta love mid July when everything is peaking. I love Agastache. It's a super bloomer, loves heat and comes in a fab array of colours. Same as penstemon. In my hail prone garden this year they are both doing very well. Your garden as always looks incredible.

    1. Everything is peaking, isn't it? In your garden too?

      Yes, Agastache and Penstemon are among my very favorite sun plants. I'm glad they are doing well for you! Thank you for your kind words! :)

  6. Danaerys, Breaker of Bugs, Mother of Fuzzy Walnuts.

    The garden is looking full and fabulous, Tamara!

    I just lost another Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'. They do like to suddenly croak. Luckily, I had planned on eliminating it anyway and already planted a Muehlenbeckia ephedroides right next to it.

    1. HA! FM and I laughed at your description of Danaerys! Hee hee...Mother of Fuzzy Walnuts. That one is going to stick, my friend.

      Oh, you lost one too? It happens to you, too? I wonder why they do that! Any ideas?

  7. Those Kudos series Agastaches are great plants aren't they ? They still tend to be short-lived for me but usually last at least 3 years. That Annie is a real looker !


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