Glory Days of August

Summer sun has arrived in the Pacific Northwest with hot temperatures to match. The summer bloomers are starting to respond accordingly and the tour-de-watering has begun. I love it, though, (summer weather) although it can be a bit much working at the nursery in it all day and then coming home to more watering. Such is the life of an obsessed gardener. Well, here are the fruits of my labors - the garden in its August glory.

Ratibida columnifera commonly known as Mexican hat, a prairie plant, has seeded around to create a decent-sized patch. I kind of forget about this plant in spring as it doesn't really begin its show until late July. 

An unknown upright sedum (it was a cutting in the garbage can at work)  has grown into a full-fledged plant. I love sedums for this reason, they are so satisfying and easy to grow in the right conditions. The color echoes of the Cotinus 'Pink Champagne' in the background are an unexpected surprise.

I took a few wide shots of the sunny garden this week. Here, facing east on a sunny, hot morning, the textures really stand out.

The color of the echinacea stands out, too. I never planted these - one was a volunteer that showed up in the soil and another still was already here but I moved it to this spot. Now there is a large patch of mixed seedlings, some with dark stems others with green stems. All have the purple-pink petals and are wonderful for butterflies.

 Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens', one of several, has grown quite large. Behind it, three Hebe odora 'Purpurea Nana' stand upright, echoing the purples of this bed. 

A view looking southeast as seen in the morning....

Same view in the afternoon light. Two Acanthus mollis stand on either side of this path, an informal welcoming committee to this part of the garden.

The gravel garden in full, hot, August sun.

The edge of the labyrinth garden in full, hot, August sun. 

The garden bed at the top of the driveway with Lobelia tupa, the red flowering plant, taking center stage among a sea of yellows.

Farther down the same garden in the late afternoon shade, the one remaining crocosmia in this bed looks rather lovely surrounded by Achillea 'Terra Cotta' and other hardy perennials for sun.

At the edge of the labyrinth, the "prostrate" rosemary all received haircuts. Oy. Well, they were kind of tall for prostrate plants, but at least they are starting to spill down the bank as I had imagined. I'm thrilled, actually, that they have lived here happily since 2017. Rosemarinus officinalis 'Huntington Carpet'.

In the late afternoon sun, Stipa gigantea and Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' have two distinct responses to the light. The stipa captures the light and looks like it's glowing while the carex reflects the light, outlining individual blades of grass making it feel like flowing water.

At the edge of the gravel garden, Callistemon sieberi sits among purple-flowered sun perennials including eryngium and nepeta.

I have to show this larger Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens' - the thing is taking over. While I adore it, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am scared it will up and die on me as they tend to do for no apparent reason. Imagine the hole in this bed if it does go. Well, that's gardening for you. High risk stuff!

Acanthus mollis standing tall.

A few spiky things: There are a few Agave neomexicana in the mix, although they are obscured by foliage.

Veronicastrum virginicum 'Album' is such a cool plant with whorled leaves all the way up the stock.

A wider shot of the berm garden in late afternoon sun.

As common as they are, Rudbeckia hirta or black-eyed Susans are so cheerful. I'm always happy I keep some around, although I admit to yanking out more than a few every year.

I adore the color on this crocosmia, C. pottsii 'Culzean Pink' which is actually more of a salmon color than pink.

One of many random sunflowers the birds helped to plant.

Fuchsia speciosa and its ginormous leaves and hot pink-orange flowers.

Rudbeckia lacinata 'Hortensia' - also known as outhouse plant graces not the outhouse, but the gate to the property.

Rosa pomifera delivers this year.

Itea ilicifolia is just getting started. It's been in the garden for about two years and has all of a sudden put on a lot of new growth. Eventually reaching 10 - 15' in height, this evergreen shrub is a welcome sight in winter when the surrounding hydrangeas lose their leaves.

Rosa 'Mutabilis', a gift from Anna of Flutter and Hum, is quite lovely.

Echinops ritro which was a giant plant in the old garden, showed up here in the form of a seedling. It too is giant and one of the best plants for pollinators.

Zauschneria californica (syn. Epilobium canum) in the gravel garden. 

Upright sedum (which will have pink flowers when it blooms) backed by Cotinus 'Pink Champagne' has a vibrant color contrast.

Agapanthus 'Nigrescens' was planted in 2017, didn't bloom for me last year, but has three beautiful blooms this year. Hooray!

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' - a good 8' high. I keep finding seedlings of this around its feet.

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem', without blooms, seems quite happy in this semi-sheltered warm, south-facing part of the gravel garden. 

Whew! That's a lot of plants. I had included shots of the vegetable garden and shade garden, but the post was getting far too long. I'll save those for another time. In the mean time, we hope you are enjoying your summer and aren't too terribly hot. It's been bad out there all around the world, we count ourselves blessed to be spared the super-scorching temperatures.

That's a wrap for this week, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you all! Happy gardening and stay cool!


  1. Your garden looks great as always. It has a comfortable feel that encourages you to want to wander slowly. I love August and on wards as the panic to plant/ weed/etc slows down and I accept the garden for what it is. Once I stop looking for it's flaws it always looks far lovelier than I thought and can enjoy it whole heartedly.

    1. That is such a great compliment, thank you so much. August is the month where you either accept the garden as it is or not, and when I can accept the weeds, dry grass, etc. I am much happier. You are right, stop looking at its flaws! Great advice for all of us.

  2. Anonymous8:45 AM PDT

    I look forward to your weekly post. Your garden is beautiful.
    Steve B.

    1. Thank you, Steve - and thanks for commenting, I'm glad to know there are people out there who actually read this thing! That means a lot. Cheers.

  3. That shot of the Stipa gigantea with the carpet of Carex is just wonderful! I very much enjoyed this summer view of your garden. It hasn't been unbearably hot here, but once it gets up to the 80s I water first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of the day inside with the AC. The house is getting cleaned for once.

    1. Aw, thanks Alison. Inside with AC means yes - house chores! I'm with you. It has been a pretty mild summer overall, I'd say. It's been great for getting lots of little things done.

  4. It is to be in the 90s today here. I am glad I don't have to be out in it. Your garden is an inspiration. I wish I had all that sun and room. I would be out there planting away. Happy August.

    1. Oy, that's a little warm to be out gardening and (for me) potentially getting sunburned. But don the big hat, slather the sunscreen and I'd probably be out there too! Cheers, Lisa.

  5. "Glory days" and "August" aren't words I'd ever associate with one another but glorious your August garden is! I sighed at the sight of those tall bloom spikes of Acanthus mollis - the plants were a major feature of my former garden but they're miserably unhappy in my current garden. (I'd be happier if they'd just move on to the big garden in the sky but, no matter how many times I've tried to dig them out, their ghosts insist on paying me brief visits.) I've been thinking of trying Stipa gigantea here and seeing yours has pushed me further toward that goal.

    1. Ha! Actually, me too - Facilities Manager came up with that name (glory days), but it seems appropriate this year as it's been such a mild summer. I think it's more in reference to the big yellow blooms and veggie gardening happening in full force right now.

      Oh, those acanthus - I have a love/hate relationship with them. Yes, if you "move" them or dig them up, it will all be for naught as you will always have bits coming up. If they sit in hot sun without oodles of water they sulk. But when they are pretty, they are really pretty.

      The Stipa g. is such a cool, easy grass - I would encourage others to try it. I have had a few seedlings around, but it's not obnoxious.

  6. Anonymous7:01 PM PDT

    Love the august garden. And thank you for including the Veronicastrum. It helped me ID a purple one I have that I have forgotten the name of!

    1. There is a purple one called Fascination

    2. I'm glad you were able to i.d. a plant - and that purple one called Fascination is very cool!

  7. I had a good laugh with myself thinking of writing a post called the "Gory Days of August" highlighting dead and dried up plants, because I'm contrary and a little twisted. Your garden looks wonderful, though. There's something about the photo of the bed at the top of the driveway I especially like. What an incredibly enormous purple salvia! Who's children have you been feeding to that thing? I understand your fear of it suddenly dying all too well. I had two do just that this summer, and have had others do it in other years. Shrubby salvias don't do well in my soil in general, though. I'm so envious of your Itea. I have a small one that made it through the cold winter a couple years ago, damaged of course, then rebounded well. But the sudden and particularly late frosts the last two winters have damaged it too, and the consecutive years of setbacks seem to have taken their tole. It's barely grown this year. I'm contemplating starting over with a larger one that should have better cold tolerance, or giving up and putting something else in that location.

    1. Ah, I get the irony of "Glory Days of August" as usually I'm crying over the crispy foliage. This summer has been so mild that it actually feels a little lush. FM came up with the title for the blog, he's especially fond of big sunflowers and sunny plants.

      Oh, that salvia - I think the reason it's so large is that it came from you, Evan! You gave out those little cuttings from a blogger's plant swap a couple of years ago and you have magic in your propagation ways, my friend.

      The Itea - I started with a gallon plant. I hope yours grows quickly! You are welcome to cuttings of mine if you would like backups. We *might* have a larger one at the nursery, but I think they sold out a couple of years ago and are not ready yet.

  8. Beautiful! My Acanthus mollis always goes dormant towards the end of July, I noticed a few around town yesterday and now yours...I wonder why mine is so lazy?

    I'm missing that hot August sun, since the last few days turned cloudy...

    1. Re: your acanthus - Hmmm...that's odd! Maybe you're too nice to it...ha ha! Seriously, though - the ones in my garden that get little to no summer water do look terrible, they want a little water. Is yours in sun/shade/some combination?

      Oh, these sure doesn't feel like August has been these past many years. Rather, it feels like how summers used to be here in Portland while growing up, rarely super hot days. When we were kids, we used to watch the thermostat like a hawk celebrating when it got to 80 degrees, or when visiting grandparents who had a community pool - the rule was grandma wouldn't take us in the pool until it was at least 72 degrees. We would stand, in our swimsuits and floaty rings around our waists watching the thermometer and chanting to the sun gods hoping to reach the magic number.


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