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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day July 2011

<p>Deep Orange Bonanza marigold and Deep Blue angelonia from Ball Horticulture. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp</p>

Deep Orange Bonanza marigold and Deep Blue angelonia from Ball Horticulture. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

My yard is a mess. Working too many hours, the weather is too hot when I have time off, completing a book and then, there’s the garden center, which drains you regardless of the weather.

'Mardi Gras' sneezeweed (Helenium) mixed with black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia and a stray larkspur. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

'Mardi Gras' sneezeweed (Helenium) mixed with black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia and a stray larkspur. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

But there’s joy in the wonders of nature, which just keeps pumping out flowers, rain or shine, hot or dry, with barely any care at all. I’m a benign-neglect style of gardener, so most of nature, suits me fine.

Early blooming fragrant lily perfumes the front yard. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Early blooming fragrant lily perfumes the front yard. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

On July 15, the last three flowers of the tall, unnamed lily (Lilium) still perfume the air. I think it’s either a white henryii, which Old House Gardens say does not exist, or it could be ‘Albany,’ an Orienpet, but I don’t remember having one, unless Sally Ferguson of the late, great, Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center, sent it several years ago.

The lily thrives in almost full shade. A bit of dappled sun is all it gets. But every year, in early summer, it grows to about 6 feet tall and explodes with large, creamy white, fragrant, waxy flowers with dark pinkish centers. I wonder if the lack of sun makes the centers look darker. Soon, the fragrance from ‘Black Beauty’ lily, a Turk’s cap, will take over.

Echinacea 'Mistral' from Blooms of Bressingham. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Echinacea 'Mistral' from Blooms of Bressingham. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Another testament to a plant’s resilience is the blooming ‘Mistral,’ a new Echinacea introduction from Blooms of Bressingham. It’s a sport of ‘Kim’s Kneehigh,’ and gets about 12 to 18 inches tall. I got several to trial this spring and they are doing just fine, blooming their heads off in 4-inch pots waiting for their ‘forever’ home.

Lady Elsie May rose. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Lady Elsie May rose. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Like last year, the sneezeweed (Helenium) ‘Mardi Gras’ is in full, glorious bloom and has been since mid-June. I must say, for a plant that is not supposed to bloom until late July or August, this one always seems to get an early start with amazing staying power. This year, a blue larkspur (Delphinium consolida) has sown itself in the mix along with some black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia).

Really, I’m not a rose (Rosa) person, but I love ‘Lady Elsie May,’ a small shrub rose with a lovely pinkish flower and very, very clean foliage. It’s in the garden right outside the living room windows, but there are so many weeds in that bed that it’s an embarrassment. I need more time.

roses a plenty aSpeaking of time and roses, I got about 40 from a grower in California. They were tiny plugs and they came without warning while I was working full time at the garden center. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but growers and marketers need to let us know when they are sending plants. Most of them do. And, frankly, sending 40 of any one plant is a lot, especially for me and my small, urban garden, which is getting more and more shady.

I confess, I left them in the flats for weeks, only occasionally throwing a little water on them. Let the strongest survive, I thought. About 10 days ago, I had some time and potted up an amazing two dozen in 4-inch pots. Maybe I’ll share them with friends, family, community gardens. Unfortunately, the tags were not well affixed, so some are you-guess-ems.

Native poke weed (Phytolacca americana) adds high drama in the perennial garden. Robins love the berries. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Native poke weed (Phytolacca americana) adds high drama in the perennial garden. Robins love the berries. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Lastly, I will have a little more time on my hands, because I’ve resigned my post as manager of perennials and woody plants at the large, independent garden center in Indianapolis, effective July 30. I’ve worked there seasonally and full time for about nine years, where I  learned a tremendous amount with great appreciation.

I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but growing adventures will no doubt will be a part of it.