Summer Flowers: Blooming in our garden this week

I have been away from my computer for over a week – first I had a power cord issue, then our service provider wasn’t – so I have been unable to post pictures of some very nice flowers blooming in our garden. I will make up for it by posting a whole bunch of Plants of the Week at once.

Starting with a sundrop trailing over the rock wall:

Oenothera fremontii
Oenothera fremontii


Sunset anise-hyssop (Agastache rupestris) isn’t native to eastern North American, but it has proven to be hardy in western Quebec through at least one vicious winter. I put a mass of seedlings in front of a few plants of wild lupin to hide them from a foraging groundhog with a taste for my best plants. I thought the strong odour of the Agastache would mask the lupins and it seems to be working. I have come to appreciate the massed planting of the Agastache for their strong summer colour and tolerance for very dry soil.

Sunset anise-hyssop (Agastache rupestris) in the rock garden.
Sunset anise-hyssop (Agastache rupestris) in the rock garden.

The pale buds of Virginia mountain mint are present for a long time before the flowers open. Perhaps because of the mass of unopened buds, I always think of these flowers as white. Looking more closely, I can see that the opened flowers are actually covered with small purple spots. This is quite an aggressive spreader and I can already see where I will have to intervene where I have placed Virginia mountain mint too close to mid-sized neighbours. The minty smell is lovely where the plant has been placed next to rough country lawn – makes mowing a pleasure.

Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginiensis)
Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginiensis).

The crescendo of tall late-summer yellow daisies is building with the jaunty flowers of sneezeweed. I have put rather too many sneezeweeds into the swale garden – just rammed a bunch of left-overs in late last year and they all survived. I plan to transplant several of them to locations uphill as I develop the swale garden. I like sneezeweed (it doesn’t deserve its dreadful common name) but there are more tall yellow daisies to come in that part of the garden and I do not want it to be all yellow.

Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

No monarch caterpillars on our swamp milkweeds yet this year. Two of the many plants of swamp milkweed which I planted last year have white flowers. They are not a cultivar, as I sowed all the plants from wild-collected seeds. White flowers just happen from time to time in many species where the flowers are usually coloured. Seems unusual to get two white-flowered plants in one batch, but randomness is random. Both pink and white swamp milkweeds have been attracting great spangled fritillaries.

A white-flowered swamp milkweed (Asc;e[oas omcarnata_
A white-flowered swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).
A vibrantly coloured clustered poppy mallow (Callirhoe triangulata) was very slow to get going but worth the wait. We lost all the winecups, the trailing species, Callirhoe involucrata, that were growing on top of the rock wall. They didn’t survive last winter. I suspect they aren’t a long-lived plant. Plants which flower non-stop all summer are seldom long-lived. I am hoping this shier, more upright cousin will bloom for many summers. It is growing up beside, and being supported by, a clump of little bluestem grass.

Poppy mallow.
Clustered poppy mallow (Callirhoe triangulata).

The great star of the summer in the swale garden is cardinal flower. It deserves a post of its own….



Flowers in the garden this week

IpalePale beardtongue (Penstemon pallidus) is the first of my four species of Penstemon to bloom. It likes sandy soil and dry sites. Hairy beardtongue (P. hirsutus) and trumpet beardtongue (P. tubaeflorus) are budding and will bloom soon. The last to bloom will be the tallest of the four, Foxglove Beardtongue (P. digitalis), which is still growing upwards.

Golden Alexanders requires an enclosure of hardware cloth to defend it from groundhogs.
Golden Alexanders requires an enclosure of hardware cloth to defend it from groundhogs.

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) is a lovely wildflower and I would love to grow more of it. Alas, it seems to be irresistible to both deer and groundhogs and, in order to keep it at all, I have to cage it, which cramps its naturally blowsy style. I have had reasonable success masking some of the other groundhog magnets with highly aromatic neighbours, such as nodding prairie onion or anise-hyssop. Nothing but caging has worked for Golden Alexanders.

I have posted previously about the surfeit of chives in the rock garden. I have removed a lot, and deadhead the remainder strictly, but I do not want to get rid of all the chives. Who could resist its ability to flower even when dwarfed by growing in the tiniest chink in the rock?


Also blooming in the rock garden is a creeping shrub called three-toothed cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata) with small white flowers dotted over attractive shiny foliage, which will turn red in the fall. DSCN2485



Spring Rock Garden

Early saxifrage growing in shallow soil over rocks.
Early saxifrage growing in shallow soil on granite outcrop.
Bird'sfoot violet (Viola pedata)
Bird’sfoot violet (Viola pedata)

The native plants I started from seed last year are blooming in the rock garden: bluets, violets, pussytoes, early saxifrage, wild columbine, and pale corydalis.  I also have two low phloxes purchased from a garden centre, one pale pink, one vibrant pink. Chives, hairy beardtongue, harebell, and wild lupins are forming buds and will continue the show into June.

Hook-spur violet (Viola adunca) in the rock garden.
Hook-spur violet (Viola adunca) in the rock garden.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrincium montanum) and a pink creeping phlox.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum) and a pink creeping phlox.


Early Saxifrage

Early saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis, formerly Saxifraga virginiensis) is one of the first native plants to flower in our rock garden. A seedling early saxifrage, basal rosette hardly larger than a nickel, was large enough to provide nectar for a tiny blue butterfly, a spring azure. I love native plants for their connections to their natural world.

Seedling early saxifrage/
Seedling early saxifrage.
Spring azure on flowers of early saxiftage.
Spring azure on flowers of early saxiftage.