Fireworks of July

Mid-July and the garden is full of so many different flowers that it would be impossible to do justice to each one in a single post. I shall restrict myself, then, to some of the highlights.

Long border in the garden, mid-July, after rain

The forest of Verbena bonariensis has been thinned slightly, and is in full bloom now, giving a wonderful structure to the long border. The frequent showers of rain leave some stems leaning sideways for an hour or two, before springing back to a mostly vertical stance. I love watching birds alight on these upright stems, quite an art form, made more entertaining when the occasional stem swings wildly down towards the ground with their added momentum, sending the bird in a flurry of feathers to a more stable perch and the stem sailing back once more towards the sky.

Eryngium giganteum 'Silver Ghost'

Eryngium giganteum 'Silver Ghost' dome of flowers close-up

I love this biennial Eryngium giganteum ‘Silver Ghost’. Tightly packed clusters of flower heads that are slowly becoming more blue nestle above beautiful silver bracts, which seem to glow whether in sunlight, moonlight, shade or at dusk. The strong shapes of those spiky bracts make a pleasing contrast with the upright green spears of crocosmia leaves and softer Stipa tenuissima which billows tantalisingly alongside.

Pale pink flower of garden rose

There is an abundance of roses on the climber, New Dawn, and a handful of blooms on shrub roses rescued from the original garden, such as this pearly pink one above, which is nestled in among Gaura lindheimeri and pale yellow Potentilla sulphurea recta.

Gaura lindheimeri in flower

The gaura flutters with a tentative sprinkling of white butterfly-blooms. I’m pleased that it overwintered on our heavy Welsh clay to return this year.

Selection of Papaver somniferum blooms mid-July

The opium poppies are in full swing across both front and back gardens, an eclectic mix this year, though I still favour the deep purple ones.

Astrantia major 'Venice'

Hardy geraniums continue to tumble through the garden in swathes of blue and white, particularly the sterile ‘Orion’, and the astrantias are sparkling. ‘Venice’ above, in its first year, is restrained but beautiful; hopefully next year it will get into its stride and be smothered with crimson flowers.

Dahlias, cw from top left: David Howard, Chat Noir, Twynings After Eight

We have grown Dahlias this year for the first time; in the spring we ordered four varieties and potted them up in the greenhouse. Sadly one did not grow – when I turned out the pot after planting out the other three from their pots, the tuber was wrinkled, empty and wet. The voluptous dark crimson blooms of Chat Noir that have unfurled (above right) are stunning, and Twyning’s After Eight (bottom left) with its dark foliage and pale, simple flowers is magnificent; all have joined our ruby-leaved acer in the semi-circular bed beneath the kitchen window.

The third variety that we chose was the fuchsia-coloured Downham Royal; what grew (above top left) from the tuber thus labelled is, however, certainly not what we anticipated, but appears to be the darker-leaved orange-flowered David Howard instead. I contacted the mail-order nursery where we purchased these, and they refunded the two that were either wrong or dead, so next year we shall try those again, and hope that we can bring the ones we have through the winter too. I am not very convinced by the rogue orange variety, though its flowers are still striking.

Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' in flower

Two clumps of Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ are putting on a vivid display in the long border, while other varieties of bergamot are still to produce flowers. I am really taken with these, and they’re withstanding the squally showers well.

Hot colours in the kitchen garden: Calendula 'Indian Prince', Sunflower 'Giant Russian' and Nasturtium

There are more hot colours down in the kitchen garden; a row of sunflowers stand with their backs resolutely on the house, optimistically facing the rising sun. Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ is threaded through our crops with sunny faces upturned, jewel-coloured nasturtiums romp around the feet of taller plants, runner beans are covered in deep orange flowers, and to offset these fiery hues, huge clumps of borage bring a glimpse of blue skies even through the rain.

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', Salvia turkestanica, Lavender angustifolia

Back in the ornamental borders, the cool spires of salvias are always covered in bees, while lavender plants hum with activity. Cerinthe major purpurascens make an unexpected rattling sound as pollinators forage deep in their bracts.

Dutch Iris

Electric blues sing up by the house, where a handful of Dutch irises in a container have unfurled their flags, to reveal bright yellow tongues. Other containers are more restrained; a colourful but delicate mixture of Linaria maroccana ‘Sweeties’ brightens up the front path, while I have separated some white linaria out to join the annual Gypsophila muralis ‘Gypsy’ which is growing into a haze of pale pink blossom.

CW from top left: Ammi majus, white linaria and Gypsophila muralis 'Gypsy', Knautia macedonica

The serene domes of Ammi majus sparkle throughout the borders, and the Knautia macedonica has thrown restraint to the winds this year, hundreds of scarlet buttons bob on wiry stems, coming up through neighbouring cosmos foliage and the emerging panicles of oak-leaved hydrangea just glimpsed above.

I must draw breath there. It’s a fulsome month, with the high rainfall keeping everything lush and green, and abundant flowers through the garden; I haven’t even touched upon the achilleas or alliums that are in flower, evening primroses and tobacco plants, ornamental grasses, or the Crocosmia Lucifer, Echinacea purpurea and leucanthemum whose buds are poised on the edge of opening, and countless others besides.

Thanks to Carolย for hosting this mid month glimpse of what’s lighting up gardens around the world.


18 thoughts on “Fireworks of July

  1. How wonderful to have so many colourful blooms – just what a garden in July should look like. I have been very unlucky this year, as you will see from my GBBD post, there are very few blooms and what there were have either been eaten by slugs and snails, or rain beaten. I am hoping for a better August meanwhile I shall look at your garden with envy ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m sorry your garden has been ravaged so badly this year. The slugs and snails have been busy on some of our foliage here, but so far the flowers are defying them, Fingers crossed for a better August indeed, and a fabulous summer show in your garden.

  2. Your loving descriptions of these plants make me fall in love with them. Especially Eryngium giganteum โ€˜Silver Ghostโ€™, which I shall look for in my area.

  3. Wow – your garden is absolutely beautiful; how gorgeous. I must, must get an Eryngium. I did have one, but it’s gone AWOL. Can’t blame it – it’s probably nipped off to the caribbean with it’s cozzie in a suitcase…

    • Thanks, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s shaping up this year.
      And definitely get an Eryngium (or 3). As well as this beauty, my E. planum Blue Glitter has somehow overwintered happily and all the lovely little flowerheads are starting to turn a gentle shade of lavender now.
      I have sown E. giganteum Miss Wilmott’s Ghost too, just a couple of clumps of leaves at the minute, but I’m watching…

  4. Dutch irises are among my favorite flowers–yours are just lovely! I also love ‘Silver Ghost’–what a gorgeous image! Our poor gardens are looking tired with the SC heat and humidity–and the neglect of leaving them for two weeks while visiting family in Europe. Your garden is so filled with blooms–I have flower-envy! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy GBBD!

    • Thank you – the irises have been beautiful, it’s the first time I’ve grown them. And ‘Silver Ghost’ is stunning, a plant I definitely want to come back year after year. Fingers crossed it self-seeds, though I’ll collect some seeds too just in case.

  5. what a superb summer celebration of colour and forms, Sara – the sheer variety of flowers is testament to your skills though I believe there must be magic in your soil

  6. Gorgeous, just gorgeous!!! I love Verbena bonariensis…for exactly the reason you stated, it ads a little structural verticality in my “loose” borders! That Astrantia is stunning…I must keep an eye out for it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks, Scott. The Verbena is stunning; since I took these photos it has continued to bloom and overflow, so tall and striking that our neighbour asked what it was and said she has garden envy :). Astrantia Venice is definitely worth adding to your collection too…

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