Thursday, July 31, 2014


The title of this post doesn't refer to the sweet days of summer -- although it could -- but rather to Clethra alnifolia, otherwise known as Summersweet. This sweet smelling summer blooming deciduous shrub is surprisingly not well known. It offers more than olfactory delights, with bright pink flower buds opening up to pretty pale pink flowers. It doesn't mind a little shade, though it's more of a sun lover in general. For many people heavenly scents in the garden come from roses, lavender, butterfly bush, jasmine, wisteria or certain bulbs (like freesia). There are however a great many less common shrubs whose fragrance is worth exploring. In one area of our main walkway, I have planted a series of fragrant plants -- Daphne odora, followed by an Edgeworthia (paperbush), Mirabilis longiflora and then a Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). I planted them for the delight of anyone using the walkway.
Here are more photos of my ever evolving garden, taken on this day of July. Don't forget to click on the thumbnails to bring up the larger images. Leading off is a photo of my Summersweet bush.

Clethra alnifolia. Not only does each panicle of flowers offer a heady aroma but these lovely shrubs tend to bloom profusely. Summersweet indeed!

Another shrub not as popular as it should be is Lysimachia clethroides. You may look at it and think "Wait, that doesn't look like the ground cover lysimachia in my garden"  and you'd be right. This L. clethroides is one of the taller so-called Loosestrifes, as opposed to the low growing Creeping Jenny types. Due to its pure white flowers and curving flower panicles, it's commonly called Gooseneck loosestrife. Hey, you know somebody likes you when you acquire the common name 'Gooseneck.' It makes a shrub about 3' tall and likes regular water. Very show when there's many a goose honking.

I got two spathes on my Arisaema speciosum this year and after I yanked out an invasive Impatiens irvingii from the same pot I could finally get a good photo of it. That rich burgundy color is to die for.

Speaking of color, there is simply no flower that gives you more of your true blue fixation than Ipomoea 'Heavenly Blue.' First, that color and then the flowers are easily five inches across. 

Speaking of vigorous, my Gloriosa lily has just gone bonkers this year. I have no idea why I've had so much trouble with them in the past but it looks like it will yield twenty! flowers this year.

Give and you shall receive. I accidentally killed my front house neighbor's hibiscus so I gave her my two. They'd been languishing in the driveway so I repotted them into larger pots and now that they're on the front porch and getting way more sun they're going great guns. I love a happy ending. (Sniff)

Mimulus sp. This was a rescue from work and it didn't look to survive but I kept at it and now it's ablaze with color. It does need regular water but it's worth it for the show.

Geranium 'Mrs. Kendell Clark.' This white-streaked geranium is a real charmer. It almost died out after planting but does finally seem to be getting a toehold.

Not sure why this photo came out slightly dark but I couldn't resist adding a photo of the one dahlia that's survived the years with me. Dahlia 'Seattle' has that lovely butterscotch and white combo that's so pretty.

Tithonia. Though this photo doesn't capture the beauty of the commonly named Mexican sunflower, here it is anyway. What Tithonia lacks in the size of its flowers, it makes up for in the quantity it produces on one plant.

I'm ending on an unplanned orange trifecta. First the Tithonia, now Calceolaria 'Kentish Hero.' This orange pocketbooks not only differs in flower color from the more common C. mexicana but unlike that plant, KH is a true perennial. It seems to like a bit more sun than C. mexicana too.

And finally Lilium tigrinums spemdens or, to you, Tiger lily. They are among the favorite of my extensive lily collection. Not just the color and the spots but the expertly recurved petals. Plus it's very vigorous.

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