High Summer

 High summer and the flowers are going strong. The grasses are starting to strut their stuff, birds are plentiful. This time of year is still full force for us, however, for the garden does need watering here and there, though not nearly as much as in the past few summers. Weeding to be done, check. Pruning, too, check. Chores are building. In addition, the veggie garden needs my attention and autumn plans are brewing in my never-quiet mind. I am hoping to do a bit more sod-removal this autumn and connect more island areas into larger, more cohesive beds. Yes, more expansion, more work, but it's fun to dream of expanding when it seems the rest of the garden is in pretty good shape.

We have also had a lot of visitors to the garden this season and I find myself explaining over and over again that we have had so many losses from bad weather the past couple of seasons. I feel like I'm apologizing. But why? Why do we do this to ourselves? It is what it is and I am happy with what has thrived, no looking back. Just forward. With that spirit of embracing, here are a few highlights from the garden in late July.

Romneya coulteri, Coulter's Matilija poppy, is a notoriously difficult plant to establish. I tried and failed twice, third time it took. Once it does settle in it is said it will take over. This is my patch after about six years. Well-behaved and beautiful on top of a small berm with average soil and mostly full sun.

Just lovely.

The edge of the meadow garden in full, frothy goodness.

Sedum spurium blooms behind Salvia 'Celestial Blue' which hasn't bloomed yet. It was a gift from a friend and I'm thrilled to have it in the garden. 

Berkheya purpurea, a South African perennial, is a rather fantastic color of light lavender with dark centers. It does appreciate some summer water to look its best. It reaches about 3 - 4' in height and has rather thorny stems.

The Mirabilis multiflora is beginning to bloom! It is much more lavender than pink in person. Here is what it looks like (with a Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’ coming in on the left).

Flower detail. I love this plant and, yes, it has performed beautifully so far and is only about a year old. After I planted one last summer that I started from seed it was about 1" and stayed there until it vanished in winter, being deciduous. This year it came up strong in late spring and is now about 4' across and about 1' tall. I think this could be a new future favorite for drought-adapted characteristics and beauty.

Persicaria affinis, a spreading perennial, holds its own with Hebe 'Quicksilver' on the right and Epilobium canum (out of shot) on the left.

A new to me manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca known as big berry manzanita for it apparently has the largest fruit of any in its genus. It was a mighty gift from my boss at Cistus Nursery, Sean Hogan. What a wonderful addition to the garden, we are thrilled and look forward to watching it grow.

A couple of reddish flowering perennials on the southern edge of our property near Oscar the agave. Cosmos 'Rubenza' from seed started in spring and Agastache 'Kudos Red'.

Cosmos 'Rubenza' has wonderful shifting colors and a large, blowsy habit.

The bird-sown sunflowers are in peculiar places this year. These are near the cosmos pictured above. They are especially plentiful in the veggie garden as per usual.

Achillea millefolium that has a subtle shade of yellow next to Macleaya cordata and a small Agave parryi var. truncata (Gentry form).

Carex flacca waves in the dry garden.

A rather striking color of a sweet pea called 'Beaujolias' given to me by a friend.

Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla loves a shady location and fairly regular summer water. My clump is now about 3' across and growing. It's a rather striking perennial, I have it in very heavy wet clay soil.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' is a personal favorite. From the Missouri Botanical Garden website: SNOW FLAKE is noted for its double white flowers. It typically grows 5-8' tall and as wide  Features large pyramidal flower panicles consisting mostly of showy sterile flowers with multiple bracts or sepals which give the panicle a double-flowered appearance. Blooms in June for 6-8 weeks, gradually fading to pink and then brown by late summer. Distinctive, deeply-lobed, somewhat coarse, deep green, oak-like leaves (to 8" long) acquire attractive shades of maroon and purple in autumn. Mature stems exfoliate to reveal a rich brown inner bark which is attractive in winter. SNOW FLAKE was introduced into cultivation in the early 1970s by Aldridge Nursery in Alabama.

Viburnum foetidum var. quadrangularis with Cotoneaster horizontalis 'Variegata' and Gaultheria shallon (salal) behind it. It is possible that this viburnum has changed names as I cannot find much information on it online any longer, but it was sold to me with that name.

Holodiscus discolor, our native oceanspray. This large multi-stemmed deciduous shrub can be seen in forests throughout the Willamette Valley and its spent flowers are still an attractive buff color. There are several of these on our property along the outside of our fence. In addition. I have planted a few in our garden. I love how easy and attractive they are.

Stipa barbata seeds flittering about before they inevitably scatter all over the garden. I've since collected them and plan to grow them on.

Abutilon from Joy Creek Nursery simply called 'Orange with Red Anthers'.

Pennisetum 'Karly Rose' in a dry border. They receive no summer irrigation yet they are quite tall (5 - 6') and floriferous. I am told this is a pennisetum that does not seed around (sterile seed) and so far that has been true.

My little fern table overtaken by Sedum oreganum and Tiarella trifoliata. That's ok, it's survival of the fittest here.

Yucca rostrata with a self-sown festuca and Hebe 'Quicksilver' in the gravel garden.

Itea ilicifolia is finally getting large enough to have presence in the garden. Its long, falling racemes catch the evening sun beautifully. It's going to be a fairly large evergreen shrub when it's all said and done, but winter damage has kept it from reaching its full potential.

Achillea millefolium, our native yarrow, has been lovely in the garden this year. Lots of blooms, a good amount of pollinators and a healthy look.

Allium sphaerocephalon, drumstick allium, in the meadow garden. It is a prolific re-seeder and a favorite of honey bees. 

Ozothamnus 'Sussex Silver' is a large (as in wide) evergreen shrub. One can keep it in check with vigorous pruning. It is in the dry garden and receives very little summer irrigation. Its frothy blooms will fade to a blonde color and add to the inevitable autumnal vibe.

Geranium 'Rozeanne' from behind.

A parting shot of the edge of the meadow garden.

I love summer. I adore the warm breezes and lovely evenings strolling outside. The pollinators are going strong and the flowers are prolific and in the evening, many are fragrant. The windows are kept open and dinners usually consist of 4/5 food we have grown in our garden (plus cheeses, can't forget the cheeses). It's a hell of a lot of hard work but it will hopefully subside in a month or so once we get those beets pickled, bird house gourds drilled and ready for new occupants among dozens of other chores. Still, we love it and this is our joy. I feel for our friends who are experiencing record high temperatures in a seemingly never-ending parade of heat waves. We have been spared this summer and know how lucky we are.

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 all! Happy gardening, we hope you are enjoying some outside time wherever you are.


  1. Anonymous7:58 AM PDT

    I chuckled when I read you are already contemplating more grass removal... how quickly we forget the aches and pains. The pure joy of gardening makes us forget, and makes it all worth while.
    I enjoyed the photo showing the "edge of the meadow garden in full, frothy goodness". The tri-pods structures are fun, FM's handy work I presume.
    I ofter research plants you feature in your post. Arctostaphylos glauca is one that made me gush: what an excellent gift. Not suited to my garden, but I love Arcots a lot.
    Hebe 'Quicksilver' appears in multiple photos. I grow this plant, but it doesn't reach the magnificent fullness of yours. (Yet?).
    Love the photo of "Carex flacca waves in the dry garden". Your summer garden is delightful.

    1. I know, Chavli. We're nuts for adding more to the workload. I'm laughing at myself! Can't help it, I suppose.

      I love when you point out what photos you are drawn to, it's so interesting! Hopefully your Hebe 'Quicksilver' will fill in for you, I think it might just take time. Several of mine are in high overhead afternoon shade if that makes a difference. They seem to have established fairly quickly. They can also take a haircut if needed. I have them in full sun too and they have reached quite wide proportions.

  2. Your garden looks glorious. You've convinced me that I need more Arctostaphylos. I hope your Romneya remains manageable - mine is not and I've been trying to rid my dry back slope of it for 3 years now.

    In contrast, the summer doldrums are setting in here as the heat intensified (even if it's not nearly as miserable as temperatures in our inland valleys). I look to the dahlias to provide a needed summer color boost but, having gotten a late start, they're taking their time getting their bloom on.

    1. Thank you Kris! You DO need more arctos in your life, right? They are so good. Hopefully for you as well. There's a great Arctostaphylos aficionados Facebook page that has a lot of folks from California and there's a wealth of information there.

      Well, the romneya, I think our winters are too wet for it to eventually take over but I could eat my words. Interesting about your dahlias - the few I have (in a raised bed for cut flowers) have been going for weeks.

    2. Barbara H.7:41 PM PDT

      I'm so far behind in reading but decided to forge ahead and read this current post. So many lovely things and so much work, but it's so rewarding. Decades ago now, when I lived in Portland and drove over to the coast, I saw and fell in love with the romneya. At that time it was hard to find, but I think the person I talked to about it (in Seaside?) warned that it was hard to get rid of. At that time I wondered why one would want to but now I have years of garden experience and heed those words! Beauty can be very beguiling, though, but wisteria taught me not to fall prey to those charms.

    3. Oh yes, heed the words of gardeners who have experience with specific plants. I guess for me I have Romneya coulteri in an area where it can spread, in other words I have room where the average Portland garden might get taken over. Wise words indeed, Barbara.

  3. Sweet photos Tamara! You mentioned all the visitors, I hope you can stand one more? August! I am going to come visit in August, if you're up for it. I have to see this masterpiece again, and you of course. I also need to make a trip out to the island. Perhaps I will see you next week...

    1. Thank you, Danger! Yes, please, come over. I'll be at Cistus next Thursday - come on over!

  4. Love your July garden, just stunning! The edge of the meadow picture is truly swoon-worthy. I am off to check out the Arctos facebook page, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you TZ! I love that view of the meadow in the evening light - it highlights the frothiness of it all. Hope you join the arcto page, it's a great group of arcto fans.

  5. No need to ever apologize for anything about your garden. It is always lovely and change is a natural process in a garden anyway. Seems to be a common thread with gardeners. Whenever I see Romneya it reminds me of the movie Zorro with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zita Jones. Enguard!

    1. You are so right, Elaine. We gardeners do this - apologize. But for what. Change is natural and really, to go with the flow saves much heartache and headache.

      That's a funny image you have in your mind for Romneya coulteri - I think it must be a serious spreader in so Cal and other warmer climes - here, not so much that I have observed. Anyone else in Oregon found this to be a thug? We'd love to hear from you.

  6. Everything looks so lush, you certainly must have more moisture than we do down here mid-valley along the coast range. Have had my Romneya coulteri for about 10+ years now and it is starting to get more assertive. Tried digging up a few rhizomes but they run DEEP and wasn't able to transplant any. It is a beautiful and tough plant.
    I would also love to visit you and danger garden sometime in August. Was thinking about the week of the Farwest show (Aug 23-25) since I will be up there presenting about Phytophthora root rot.
    Great tip on Carly Rose. Do you have Aristotelia fruticosa? Seems to be quite drought resilient as well.


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