Saturday, July 5, 2014

Surprise Garden Flowers, 2014 Progress

I suppose you would call my garden Southern traditional.  I have plantings that started from a plan in 2004, with various perennials repeating throughout the mulch beds, making a nice display, from spring through fall. I have evergreens with year-round interest so that the garden doesn't look bare in winter.  I also have annual flower beds, mostly in the front of my house and front gate.  What I don't have is much in terms of cottage-style, wildflower plantings.

The last few years, however, I've had a little surprise in my garden that is totally random, thanks to my birds. I've seen sunflowers grow beneath the birdfeeder out of leftovers from winter feeding.
The first year they grew, they weren't very strong (below), and a heavy storm knocked them over before their prime.
Last year, I had some really big blooms, and they smiled happily toward the sun.
They made the birds and bees happy too.
Again, this year, I am seeing my sunflowers.  I even rake under my feeders at the end of winter, cleaning up the mulch beds beneath so as not to attract unwanted wildlife that may start with those leftovers and move on to eating other plants.  I only feed hummingbirds in the summer months.  The rest of the birds are on their own, until my flowers are spent, in which case they become fair game. Goldfinches love my black-eyed Susans.  Check out this year's free-form flower patch (below):
Already the stalks are higher than the 6' brick wall, with multi-blooms on the thick (!) stalks. You can see the birdfeeder on the left side, obscured by the flowers when viewed from the front.

I staked the biggest stalks this year, in case we get some strong storms.  I'm pretty excited about the random patch of happy flowers. Look where else I have a random sunflower growing (below).
This sunflower is growing out from the edge of one of my hydrangeas, at least 20' away from the sunflower patch.  I guess it's trying to make up for the fact that I have no hydrangea blooms this year (as a result of an intentional hard pruning last fall).  

In other garden bloom news, my first Lord Baltimore hibiscus blooms appeared on the last day of June:

Remember the hibiscus, and the process of staking the stalks?  These plants have grown from this in April (below):

April view of garden: hibiscus barely emerging in foreground
To this in May....
May view of garden: hibiscus 12-18" tall, before staking
To this in June....
June view of garden: hibiscus staked, growing
To now this, in July.  Soon these will be full of saucer-sized blooms. I am happy to say that I will no longer be staking hibiscus, strong storms or not!
July garden view:  hibiscus stalks more than 6' tall, blooms starting!
Other flowering plants that are making a big show right now are my bee balm, which hummingbirds love:
Bee balm
I staked my bee balm this year too (you can see the garden ties near the base, wrangling the patch together). They're getting a little out of hand, crowding my knockout rose (see trellis on left side of frame), and all the black-eyed Susans.  I've already separated some of the bee balm, but need to do more.
We love a crowd!  Bee balm, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers merging behind spirea, hiding the salvia in between
Other plants are showing their resiliency in the perennial beds.  The butterfly bushes are starting to bloom, and the lavender is pushing new growth after a devastating winter.
Resilient butterfly bushes, starting to bloom (early July)
My annuals are filling out nicely after weekly fertilizing throughout June.  Here are a few collage photos, comparing various annuals from mid-May and my last garden post (top row, when first planted) to the first of July (middle row, and bottom row for closer looks).
2014 Annual beds Comparison: Top row: mid-May; Middle row: July 1; Bottom row: detail July 1
2014 Container Comparison: mid-May (L) to July 1 (R)
2014 Courtyard Containers Comparison:  mid-May (L) to July 1 (R)
Here's one last surprise for you, as seen by Mr. P. and I, as we exited our front gate to start our early morning walk on the July 2nd (below):

In front of ours, as well as almost every property along our 3 mile walk path, there was at least one of the American flags you see in the flower bed above, placed on our properties sometime during the night before. There were 3 business cards on the pole (easily removed by sliding off), all from affiliated and local, family-run businesses (realty, construction and cleaning). Smart, and looks great in the neighborhood too!

What's new in your garden?  Any planned or unplanned surprises popping up in your flower beds?  Are your gardens cottage style or more formal?  Are your flowers flourishing so far in 2014?  I love them all, just give me flowers!

Dwellings' Amaze Me Monday
Sunday's Best
BNOTP Met Monday
Home Sweet Garden Party

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