Beyond the garden gate lies a world of secret beauty and passionate obsession.


Before the last of the liliums ‘Stargazer’ fade the liliums Casa Blanca begin, perfuming the last half of August with extravagant blooms.

Once sprawling toward the west deck (as pictured) Rosa Buff Beauty has been reduced to a few brave green leaves and a healthy but diminished root system. She lingers between the common snowball (viburnum opulus) and a fair sized Lord Roberts rhodie squeezed further by a fall blooming, shrub-shaped pale blue clematis (that at least appreciates shade) and failing clumps of a cheery coral daylily; Hello Dolly.

I’ve seriously considered removing the snowball despite its excellent fall color and extravagant spring display. It’s easy enough to pin a young branch in a pot of good soil and start another snowball. The problem is where to site the new shrub, which at 12×12 is more minor tree than bush.

Even in the heat of summer as Stargazer (the first of the oriental lilies to bloom in this garden) holds forth I’m thinking about everything that needs attention before first frost. The lilies like most bulbs prefer to die completely in site. Their leaves dropping and bare stems slowly turning brown before it’s safe to gently tug the spent stalk from the fattened bulb. The reward for this patience is even bigger, better, and sometimes more lilies the following summer.

The July pruning is fairly well in hand with the evergreen box balls, laurel hedge, bamboos, and the last of the sping blooming camellias tidied.

Somehow it’s already the end of July, and the wisteria has had new runners clipped, but the established vine needs to be cut back to maximize next year’s bloom and avoid it strangling its closest neighbors, a pair of evergreen viburnums and a largish, panda-colored, tree peony.

The Siberian, and German iris clumps need cut back hard. Spent Malvas, Feverfew, and centauruses,sprawled in the west border aren’t adding anything to the scenery. With the increase in heat day lilies, Lucifer, and bronze flax are fading fast.

I sold the house and garden so all of these daunting tasks belong to the new owners. *relieved grin*

An unnamed honeysuckle cavorts with clematis etoile violette

Below hemerocallis pretty maid echoes the honeysuckle’s delicate pink, yellow, and white blooms.

A pair of ancient birch anchor the southeast corner, green pots hold hosta elagans Astilbes, Japanese painted ferns and the enthusiastic Bishop’s Weed fills in any bare spots.

Slightly to the west, sword fern fronts a large hydrangea.

Continuing west Japanese anemones threaten to smother male ferns and surround a small clump of hellaborus niger. After niger begins to fade in late winter, the rhododendron loderi venus looming behind sends out new buds that gradually swell with huge pink blossoms in spring.

Close up of the climbing hydrangea sprawling over the north side of the arbor.

Clematis Jackmanii winding behind Crocosmia Lucifer lighting up the midsection of the west border while making the local hummingbirds happy.

Here’s a closer look at Lucifer

The other day while deadheading I found a whole bunch of ladybug larvae hanging out on the pansies, knowing they eat a prodigious amount of aphids.

I grumbled about irresponsible insect mothers who left their young stranded without nourishment. Apparently ladybug mothers are more savvy than I. The lack of visible aphids and mites is likely thanks to the hungry larvae, because they’re perfectly healthy and rapidly transforming into adults!

Since the south deck was in repair this spring only the west deck has annuals in containers, which are quickly becoming mixed perennial color spots.

The vivid red geranium shares space with a fruiting salal, three lobelia,and a pair of alyssum.

The box holds a handsome sedge, a trio of still flowering pansies wintered over, They’re augmented with fragrant heliotrope, and three delicate white beauties, (euphorbia white diamond frost). If you happen to be local I got them from West Seattle Nursery. A few years ago I added them to a fall container. They bloomed into December. I regretted not buying them earlier in the year.

Perennial wintergreen (never happy in the garden but thriving in a part shade pot) shares with a lanium, lobelias, and alyssums.

I’ve long loved this concrete bench with flanking ferns. A common five-fingered maidenhair on one side, a rare Japanese lady fern (long before the dainty fronds a delicate pale blue anemone holds forth) on the other, both shaded by the venerable apple tree and a forgiving juniper. Last fall I decided to renovate the small interior bed behind the juniper, adding a year old cutting of Rosa Complicata, a healthy start of Clematis Montana a dainty (so far) mock orange (Philadelphus Snow White Sensation), three Morning light miscanthus, a few sweet woodruffs bordering the front a tassel fern, a dryopertis, and a trio of peonies (Paeonia Festiva Maxima) a few pale pink toadflax(Linaria Dalmaticavoluteered.

The peonies budded but never bloomed. I suspect the eucalyptus providing afternoon shade is to blame. Perhaps next winter I’ll prune it back and see if the peonies improve.

As summer progressed Complicata developed brown spots on her normally healthy foliage.  She’s re-potted and recovering in the nursery.


Focused on the mock orange

Wider view

May 2018
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