A Gardening Journal


Golden Lotus Banana

The show has begun! Two weeks after the astonishing inflorescence of Chinese dwarf banana emerged, yolk-yellow bracts have begun to open around a huge cone that seems like the lotus bud of the gods.

Musella lasiocarpa overall 072616 320

 

While a lotus flower's lifespan is a mere three or four days, this inflorescence will produce hundreds of flowers over three to six months. Weirdly, they aren't at all showy compared to the inflorescence itself. Weirder still, this plant's most remarkable performance may well be completely hidden.

Read more: Golden Lotus Banana


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Morning Calm' Trumpet Vine

By August, the trumpet vines are in bloom. It's time to compare them. At the left, flower clusters at the far edge of a large standard of the native species, Campsis radicans. The deep orange blooms are showy but hardly unusual.

Campsis radicans in focus 080116 320

In the distance, two standards of a hybrid of the subtropical Asian species, Campsis grandiflora, with the native Campsis radicans. Even though they are farther away, the display is still more powerful. Truly, there's no comparison.

Read more: Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Morning Calm' Trumpet Vine


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Oakleaf Hydrangea in Summer

As with most roses, iris, and lilacs, the floral performance of most hydrangeas is so powerful that the foliage is secondary. This is usually just as well. The exceptions—blue-leaved rose, variegated-leaved iris, and cut-leaf lilac—are as striking as they are welcome. 

Hydrangea quercifolia Sykes Dwarf wider view 072716 320

Oakleaf hydrangea is perhaps the most dramatic—the most foliage-fabulous—of them all. Indeed, despite the spectacular flowers, oakleaf hydrangea can be grown, proudly and gorgeously, so that it never flowers.

Read more: Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Oakleaf Hydrangea in Summer


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Goldbug False Nettle

Especially on scorching days, in-the-shade plantings beckon. I find myself darting across the garden's sunny stretches from one dappled patch to another. There had better be some flashy plants to make the trip worthwhile. 

IBoehmeria nipononivea Nichirin stem tip head on 071716 320

This bright-leaved false nettle is one of the season's shady stars: Its new leaves are white-gold, stippling with green as they mature. In late July, new foliage is still emerging even as the tallest of the clump's stems nears five feet. Many other shade garden treats peak in Spring or even Winter—think snowdrops and hellebores—so it's a joy that this sizable plant just keeps on coming as July melts into August.

Read more: Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Goldbug False Nettle


The Best Season Ever: 'Firecracker' Lysimachia in Flower

Gardeners whose beds are all tidied by April (my realistic target date is mid-July) will want to show off their colony of 'Firecracker' lysimachia in Spring, when its emerging foliage is as deep a burgundy as that of any smoke bush.

Lysimachia ciliata Firecracker Chamaecyparis obtusa Fernspray Gold 071216 320

By Summer, the burgundy has softened—OK, faded—and the stems can have grown so tall that they could lean or even flop. But by then, the butter-yellow flowers have appeared, and are happy to chat with other yellows you have thoughtfully planted nearby. My choice is 'Fernspray Gold' hinoki cypress, whose horizontal branches and feathery yellow foliage put steadying arms around many a willowy 'Firecracker' stem.

Read more: The Best Season Ever: 'Firecracker' Lysimachia in Flower

 
 
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