July 29, 2007
Anyway, as I'm deadheading and watering and generally putzing around the garden, I'm watching the activity around the various flowers. We have a basket of purple blossoms called petras that are like crack to bees. Little tiny bees, big-assed carpenter bees, bumblebees, wasps, mayflies and more. The entire plant is just swarming with 'em, lined up to grab a spot at the blooms. They're so intent on the flowers that they ignore me as I reach in with the soaker hose to water the pot. Bees and I get along, so there was no problem there.
I posted a picture a couple of years ago of a mandevilla that we grew up against a trellis. It's a tropical and didn't survive our winter. This year I've been trying to grow another clematis. Actually, I've planted four there, of which one is still alive. It's scraggly and chewed on and spotted with fungus, but damned if it doesn't keep stretching upwards and weaving its scrawny self through the trellis bars. After all of that, it even managed to pop out a single pretty bloom. I hope it makes it through the winter, because this is a tough little plant and I admire its deterimination to survive.
You followed that link above, right? The other photo there is a shot of New Guinea Impatiens. Around here (northern Virginia), Impatiens and Vinca are *the* go-to annuals. Quick growing, prolific blooming over the entire summer and fall, easy to care for and resistant to insects and disease, if you need to add a spot of color, then plant one or more of these. Spectacular. This year I planted six vinca in the front bed, and they're doing nicely. They probably won't overflow the bed like in that photo, but I didn't plant as many and they were planted relatively late.
We did find a nice variety of impatiens that we hadn't seen before though. It has variegated leaves and the blooms look like little roses, about 1 inch across. Very pretty.
In the side bed we have another O'Hare-esque situation, this time involving a pink phlox and some blue pincushion flowers. Butterflies especially love the pincushions (which have the rather unattractive "official" name of scabiosa), and there will generally be anywhere from six to two dozen assorted butterflies flitting around these plants. What's funny is watching the bumblebees land on the pincushions, because their weight causes the flower stalk to immediately crash to the ground, like an overbalanced painter on a tall ladder. When the bee falls off, the flower springs back into the air. The phlox and pincushions are both perennials, and will come back bigger and better every year. Teamed up with some white Dragon Flowers (a Virginia-native perennial cousin to snapdragons) and an interesting little annual called Agaretum with tiny blue pom-pom blooms about the size of your pinky nail, the side bed has a nice mix of whites, blues, purples and pinks. Come fall, our order of blue asters and purple coneflowers will arrive and we'll get them established to make that side bed entirely perennial.
When I'm stressed from the work week, sometimes the best remedy for me is to watch rockets majestically climb into a big, blue sky, and sometimes it's better for me to look closely at the amazing amount of nature that's happening right in my front yard.
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