Midsummer Magic

I have been overwhelmed with the gardens this week. “Overwhelmed” is a word often given a negative connotation in today’s language. The word originally comes from Middle English with the meaning “to turn upside down.” The gardens have absolutely turned my brain upside down this week. The beauty in each garden challenges and encourages me at a point in the summer when energies start to dwindle. The gardens are a restoration for all of the senses. It is unfortunate that this blog is merely words and pictures. I wish you could feel the gentle breeze this afternoon or smell the roses that are still blooming in the Rose Garden. Until that time, I’ll fill you in the best I can with my words.

Every year we trial new dahlias in the Idea Gardens to see which ones we can’t live without for next year. Dahlia ‘Foxy Lady’ has made the cut in my book. It always stops me in my tracks when I walk down the path. Not only is the color awesome, but the plant stands at a lovely 3 feet tall and the flower stems stood the test of heavy rain. Winner!

The Cutting Garden zinnias are bursting with a subtle array of colors. I went a little overboard with zinnias this year (I ordered 16 different seed varieties). Sometimes it’s hard to choose. They are blooming now in the Cutting Garden much to the delight of bees and butterflies.

The Cutting Garden might be my favorite garden area in July and August. The Rose Garden and North Garden contain very special plants and have a long moment in the spotlight, but the playfulness that exists in the Cutting Garden hits me in just the right spot in the middle of summer when all I want to do is play. For instance, the Virginia Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum var. connatum) is currently towering above the Cutting Garden (and almost the Pump House behind it). I went so far as to get out a ladder and the measuring tape to record that it is in fact 10 feet tall!

Not only is it a giant, this plant has very unusual leaves. The Latin name gives a key to the nature of this plant – “perfoliatum” means that the leaves rap around the entire stem.

The Cutting Garden is also full of pollinators! The obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana ‘Pink Manners’) is very often covered with many kinds of bees and wasps. The picture below was captured just after the rain storm this week. You can see a few soggy bees who decided to wait out the rain on their favorite flowers.

Speaking of pollinators, while we were working in the Rose Garden this morning I was taken in by the assortment of pollinators feasting on the ornamental onions (Allium ‘Millenium’). The first picture below is of a tiny black beetle I watched meticulously crawl into each individual flower. He was so inconspicuous I almost didn’t notice him. The second picture shows a bumblebee and honey bee eating together peacefully. I also saw sweat bees, flies, and the great golden digger wasp on this perennial plant. (Side note, if you are looking for a show stopping plant for your garden, the ornamental onions are an excellent choice. I wrote about them last year. Find that blog here.)

I just want to highlight a two more flowers for you. In the North Garden this week you will see two very special plants. One is peacock gladiolus (Gladiolus murielae) and the other is summer hyacinth (Ornithagolum candicans).

Both of these tall white flowers are softly fragrant and add an air of elegance to the North Garden midsummer display.

Whatever garden you find yourself in this week, take a moment to breathe in the air and appreciate all the life around you.