Articles for the Month of August 2010

A Favorite Garden

Wild Garden, King John's Lodge

The Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest for August asks that we submit a gardening image from our travels (“On the Road Again”).  Since our travels this summer were more about nature per se than man-made gardens I’ve gone back to one of my favorite gardens for my submission to the photo contest.  Two years ago we had the privilege of visiting about a dozen outstanding gardens in England during the heights of springtime.  Even though we went to some of the best-known gardens in England one of the most memorable was that of the lodge we stayed at in East Sussex.  King John’s Lodge goes back to the 14th century and has been lovingly restored.  Although we were able to stay there at the time, it looks to me as though it is only open for tours now.  In any case I highly recommend it if you find yourself in the area.

Although the vista from some angles make it appear quite grand it’s actually got a wonderful simplicity which is part of the appeal.

King John's Lodge

There are almost 8 acres altogether set in a wonderful stretch of English countryside.  You can wander the grounds on paths that go past ponds, woods, surprising sculptures, and cultivated gardens.

A sunlit Pond

Artwork along the path

Looking out from the back steps into the garden

But what really enchanted me each morning as I walked around before breakfast was the ‘wild garden’ which had a meadow filled with small fruit trees, ‘found objects’, arbors, and paths mowed between seemingly random bulbs and wild flowers.  You have to imagine that walking these paths was accompanied by the sounds of the birds and barnyard animals.  It was a wonderfully bucolic scene that totally hid the efforts that must have gone into its creation and maintenance.

The Wild Garden

More Flowers in the Wild Garden

A Few Flowers Survive

Ptilotus 'Platinum Wallaby'

It is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and I had to look hard for worthy flowers that had survived our desert-like summer.  We had another rain today so perhaps I won’t have to look quite so hard next month.  The Ptilotus shown above has a beautiful fuschia color to the flowers, but the actual plant is pretty pathetic.  Whether it’s the dry weather or just the nature of the beast in Maryland is hard to say.  I doubt if it’s going to survive over the winter.  In the same front-yard garden the Gaura have been in constant flower since spring.

White Gaura blossom

The flowers float 2-3 ft above the ground and look like an assembly of butterflies as the flutter in the breeze.  This is the third year for this plant and we’ve come to really appreciate the effect that the Gaura have over such an extended period.  Also worth noting in the front-yard garden is the Mexican Yellow-Eyed Grass from Plant Delights.  I planted it this year from a small 4  inch pot and it has prospered.  It flowered over much of the spring, well into June, and the foliage is lush and very much like a small iris, about 12-15 inches tall.  If this survives over the winter here it is going to be a really winner.

Sisyrinchium tinctorium foliage

While we are on a yellow theme we are still getting a few glads out of the garden.  They are very much smaller and fewer than we should have had based on the early growth.  But hey, we take what we can get.

Gladiolus remnant

And here there is a rose still to be found, in this case Charles Darwin from David Austin.

Charles Darwin Rose

One bright spot in the yard is provided by the Butterfly Weed.

Asclepias tuberosa

There are also quite a few Sunflowers coming into bloom in the garden.  They are all the Mammoth Russian type, but not so mammoth as usual.  The other multi-colored ones didn’t survive the drought.  I find the insides of the Sunflowers to be really interesting.  I need to do further study of their variations…

Sunflower center

One of the few bushes to be prospering despite the heat and lack of water is the Caryopteris.  The flowers are not fully open yet, but you can see what is coming.

Caryopteris in flower

I’m also beginning to appreciate the long season of the sedums.  Beth moved them into a sunnier spot this year and we have nice flower heads in bud.

Sedum (I think it's 'Autuum Joy') Flower head

Let me close with a picture of one of the Apples from my newer trees.  They’ve been slow to fruit because of the deer damage.  This year I used ‘Liquid Fence’ and we at least have a few apples in the second pasture.  They are small but as I said earlier we’ll take what we can get and be gratetful.

Kidd's Orange-Red

What was going to be a bumper crop of apples overall has been drastically reduced by fruit dropping this month and the remainders are smaller than usual.  Lest I sound too discouraged, I am, as I write, eating ice cream with blueberries from the multiple gallons that we froze.  So you win some and you lose some.  I encourage you to visit May Dreams Gardens and see what other gardens are producing this month.

Another Source of Water in Maryland

Blue Water Lily with yellow cente

Yesterday I awoke at 6am with crashing thunder and multiple lightening strokes headlining the arrival of the first rainstorm in 29 days.  It was quite a storm with over 5000 people losing power in Frederick(not us) but most importantly for our yard was the total of more than an inch of rain.  It was followed by more rain in the afternoon and then again last night.  It is hard to believe how dry it has been here.  The ground has been cracking, trees losing their leaves,  and plants have been dying left and right.  Gardening has been discouraging on the whole when you see so many of the spring’s investments disappearing.  It’s not just that it’s been dry but the temperatures have been high enough to make it really unpleasant to go outside.

Two weeks ago a posting from Melissa at Garden Shoots reminded me that last year I had made a photography trip out to the sunflower fields that Maryland plants near the Potomac River.  I had heard that the fields were not up to last years display but I remembered that the Indigo Buntings were plentiful last year and I decided to journey out to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area to see what I could find.

The field was full of dried out stunted sunflowers that were well past the peak of flowering.

Very tired collection of sunflowers

I spent a couple of hours there hoping to see the Indigo Buntings that were so plentiful last year.  I thought I imagined I might have maybe possibly seen one or two in the distance.  But the field was loaded with Goldfinches and House Finches.  There were hundreds.

Goldfinch on sunflower

A very red House Finch

I did see a Pileated Woodpecker in flight across the field.

Pileated Woodpecker in flight

After two hours of waiting and watching on a very hot day I packed it up and decided to go find my own water.  On the way back from the Potomac I stopped at Lilypons Water Gardens.  Their 250 acres of ponds are filled with flowering water lilies at this season.  It was refreshing to see so many flowers at once and what a contrast to the dry tired field of sunflowers.

Pond of Fuschia-colored Water Lilies

You can wander freely about the grounds and it’s a great spot for photography.  Wildlife abounds as you would expect with so much water and lush vegetation.

Dragonflies mating

Swallowtail at Lilypons

I have to confess that I don’t really know my Water Lilies at all.  I’m a water gardener wannabe.  I could guess at some of the varieties I was looking at but I’m probably on safer ground just to cite the colors.  Suffice it to say, Lilypons is worth a visit if you are in the area.  And if you aren’t, they have a mail order catalog.

Yellow-white Water Lily

Yellow Water Lily

Lilac Water Lily

Pink Water Lily with reflection