4/11 Gravel Bench facing East. ‘Toronto’ tulips behind.

5/11 Gravel Bench entrance. Chives, ‘Bright Diamond’ lilies, Echinacea purpurea and, dead center, a Dahlia planted two years ago that came up this Spring after a minus 17 Winter.

5/17 Gravel Bench face East.



6/3. Stump pots contain bush beans: haricots verts at left, “Dragon’s Tongue’ sharing the pot at right with Datura. I wonder what will do to the beans.




6/24 Sol y sombra.

geoffrey bale palazoo reale genoa 1

Photo by Geoffrey Bale of a tapestry in the Palazzo Reale, Genoa, Italy.

Any close and worthwhile contact with the earth tends to make one original or at least detached in one’s judgments and independent of group control.—L.H. Bailey

*pear tree bed

March 15. New beds keep a gardener happy. Eight years ago, this garden began with a six-foot diameter ring of stones around a dying plum tree.  It hasn’t been easy, it isn’t pretty, it’s the best creative endeavor, it attracts and nurtures life. Nature makes a garden, humans help.

*face west pond back door

March 26, looking West from the back door on a rainy day. Ditch lilies, Hemerocallis fulva, on the rise.

*face west 3

March 28, facing West. Buddy Chamaecyparis, a gallon pot eight years ago, perished in July’s unprecedented heat. I didn’t give enough care, I knew it wanted shade. Farewell, Champ–who will the lilies lean on next year? Maybe something purple. The trellis poles await bamboo, a fresh-cut pile of ten-foot poles stacked by the garage. At the back of the property is the stump of an enormous Mulberry, Morus rubra, decades ago split in half six feet above the ground by a great natural force (lightning the legend, flood likely). The thick laterals extended at least 15 feet on both sides of the boundary line, sprouting to ten feet through a tangled understory of Lonicera maackii and piss Elms, Ulmus pumila. This was the eldest of three Mulberries on the property, by far the most attractive to birds, and officially on the neighbor’s side for removal. It took a crew of five and heavy machinery to do the job. Look at all the new light. This year, the aging Cherry gave a spectacular bloom and a symphony of bugs, faded and gray in this picture.

garage bed 1

April 12. Garage bed facing East. New bamboo and the last year for this old raised bed. Self-seeded wild arugula at right; seedlings of escarole, Calendula and Asclepias center and left; snow peas starting to climb the bamboo. In the trellis beds, seeds of bitter melon, pole beans and cucamelon; and ‘Pintung Long’ eggplant seedlings next to the short bamboos. The barrow and big pots hold tomatoes, ‘Rosita’ eggplants, basil and petunias. Yellow chard and elderberry cuttings in other pots.

garage bed 2

April 12. Garage bed facing West.

main path face northeast 1

April 30. Garage bed from the main path, facing North. Tulips, Salvia and daisies on the left. Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, golden Creeping Jenny, on the ground. It is a beautiful living mulch, it’s infamous vigor kept in check by our Summer heat, drought and a thick mulch of straw in early July.

*tulip gavota 2

April 30. Tulipa ‘Gavota’, returning for the third year.

*snapper returning to big pond 6

In early May, a couple of snapping turtles migrate from the nearby creek to the big pond on the back patio. The creek usually dries up by the end of June–but in this 2018 garden, August was wetter than April.

**robert burns 2

Robert Burns basking in Summer digs. I saw him last in early September.

**allium christophii 2

May 25, Main path North of Garage Bed. Starry Allium christophii in front; glaucous leaves of Rudbeckia maxima, giant coneflower, at left; tall shoots of Helenium ‘Rubinzwerg’ back left; pink puffs of red clover, Trifolium pratense, weaving. The red patch behind the creeping jenny is self-seeded ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth.

bean pole

May 25. Garage bed facing West. ‘Danish Flag’ poppies in foreground, underseeded with lettuce; marigolds, jalapeno and poblano peppers along the horizontal bamboo. ‘Black Vernissage’ tomatoes in the tall cages. The few fruits harvested were fine in salads, unremarkable from the vine, no fault of the cultivar in this weather.

**trellis seedlings

May 30. Pole Beans on the left, Cucumbers and Bitter Melon on the right. Bush Beans below. I usually plant these crops a week or two earlier–our last predicted frost date is April 21–but my tardiness made no difference this year. We went from Winter to Summer in three weeks, which included a killing frost. Pole beans, usually the most reliable crop in the garden, did poorly.

*entrance 7:9

June 9, Entrance

*ride face west 2

June 6. The Ride facing West, Garage Bed, 8:30PM. Buckets of Aji amarillo and ‘Amana Orange’ tomatoes. Beans along the bamboo look their best here, heat and rabbits soon took them. Until 2018, I counted on a personal Summer’s worth of beans, cukes, okra, a few great tomatoes, mustard greens and amaranth. It flipped this year, amaranth the sole constant; peppers were delicious and abundant–Aji, ‘Fish’, Jalapeno, Poblano, ‘Santa Fe’, Serrano–and I haven’t enjoyed so much pesto in decades. Basil and all the Mediterranean herbs were unusually generous, and the potted Bay grew a foot taller. Two of seven ‘Munstead’ lavenders overwintered, a rare triumph.

*buckets mid-june

June 6. Five-gallon buckets, bottoms removed, filled with loam, manure, compost and worm castings. ‘Amana Orange’ tomatoes in the left row, Aji amarillo peppers middle and right. ‘Will Rogers’ zinnias in between the buckets.

cricket katydid scudderia sp

Katydid on Genovese Basil.

**front elder darlow ninebark

June 10. In front on the creekside, left to right, Burroughs elderberry, ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ rose (fifth year), and dark-leaved ‘Summer Wine’ Ninebark, Physocarpus opulus ‘Seward’ (second year). I seeded white clover as a no-mow living mulch last year and will add more this Spring.

**urn bed herbs dianthus lychnis allium

June 5, Urn Bed face East. Rue; ‘Drumstick’ Allium; tarragon in front; Lychnis coronaria; unknown red-flowered Dianthus; and chives.

lonicera major wheeler

June 1. Lonicera ‘Major Wheeler’–a tough, floriferous and non-fragrant honeysuckle–on the chain-link in front.


**snake path face west 3

June 5. Snake Path facing West.

*linaria maroccana

Toadflax, Linaria maroccana ‘Northern Lights,’ blooming at the beginning of June from a mid-March sowing. I have seen great sweeps of toadflax blooming wild in Spain but this is the first time I’ve had it in the garden. Charming.

gravel bed face east 6:15

June 15. The Gravel Bench, facing East.


Late June. Gravel Bench, facing North. Echinacea purpurea, juvenile Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’, and red ‘Serengeti’ lilies. Rosa ‘At Last’ and Petunia ‘Ultra Blue Star’ in the bench pots. Elderberry blooms fading in back.

*afternoon light new elders

June 25. Flowers of Sambucus canadensis ‘Bob Gordon,’ collected from the wild in Missouri in 1999. Mr. Gordon encountered his namesake during a routine ramble in the woods, describing it as a specimen of unprecedented size and vigor. He wasn’t kidding: two-year plants from seven-inch cuttings are now eight feet tall. Harvesting elderberries is a fiddly task. After cutting the berry clusters, I put them in the refrigerator for a few days which seems to help loosen the berries from the stalks. All parts of the elderberry plant contain toxic cyanide compounds, only fully ripened berries should be consumed, stems and green berries must be removed. Six hours of careful picking yielded three gallons of useful berries which became one gallon of elderberry liqueur: vodka, elderberries, lemon and orange zests, black peppercorns and brown sugar syrup; strained and aged for at least three months.


“Young Hare” by Albrecht Durer, 1502. Photo Wikimedia Commons.

*small barrows

July 1. The small barrows, home to ‘Cherry Falls’ tomatoes (bred to cascade), bright orange ‘King Theodore’ nasturtiums and ‘Genovese’ basil. ‘Red Globe’ amaranth in the pots. The tomatoes had unusually curled leaves and yielded poorly, which I now know is due to juglone, a growth-stunting compound contained in all parts of black walnut trees. I knew the barrows were under the drip line of the walnuts but I thought juglone was soil-based. Wrong; plus tomatoes are highly allergic to juglone. Even rainwater dripping from the walnut leaves was enough to cause harm, though it didn’t bother the basil at all.

*garden edge face west

July 7, facing West. Green light before a storm. Pale lavender blooms of bee balm, Monarda fistulosa, in the distance. Plenty of bumble and small bees this year but very few honeybees.

*feeling the heat chamaecyparis miscanthus 7:29

July 15.

*lilium ‘scheherazade' 8

July 15. Lilium ‘Scheherazade’. Photobomb Monarda.

*lilium auratum gold band eryngium yuccifolium

July 15. Lilium auratum ‘Gold Band’ with ‘Rattlesnake Master’, Eryngium yuccifolium.

*lilium tiger

July 15. Tiger Lilies budded at once, blooms barely lasted four days.

*little path bedraggled

August 9. Little Path, facing East. Daylilies, asters, snapdragons and lilies in front. Ipomoea ‘Solar Tower Black’ on the pole at left. It really does climb, eight feet by first frost.

*empty bed 7:29

August 12. Seedlings of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana x mutabilis ‘Bella’, on the move, while tender and pinnate-leaved Cassia didimobotrya languishes in the hot semi-shade of the mulberry tree. I’ll replace it with the native and perennial Cassia marilandica in 2019, not as fine in structure but much tougher. A border of catmint in front. self-seeded Leonitis everywhere.


Eacles imperialis on the front screen. Wow! Indulgent of my documentation, measured relaxed wingspan just under seven inches. Shook the screen twice but it hung tight. Early next morning, it was gone.



Lilium ‘Bright Diamond’ and Hemerocallis ‘South Seas’.


Hard storms getting harder.






Main Path facing South. Berberis ‘Tangelo’ front left.



Main Path from the South.


Sparse fruit on native Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis ‘Burroughs Creek’.
















*garden entrance 10:3

Garden entrance, 10/3. Today brought the first gestures of Autumn: cool temperatures, a mix of clouds and sun, and thousands of grackles gathering for their annual voyage down South.

*bidens aristolchia 10:3 2

Tickseed, Bidens aristolchia, in the foreground, 10/3. A most appealing yellow, to me and to dozens of insects. Five years ago, I seeded a big patch of it elsewhere in the garden and was alarmed by it’s spread the following year. Its easy to identify and pull, now restricted to a few patches. It blooms here in late September, a true harbinger of Autumn.

*garage bed face west 10:8

Garage bed facing West, 10/8. Two nights in the high 20s didn’t knock much down. Once the heat subsided, mid-August, the tomatoes began flowering and fruiting again. I had hopes of fair weather and a lucky, last-minute harvest but…

*tomato squirrel

Squirrels. There were about a dozen plump and blushing fruits hanging on various plants. Squirrels are discerning diners, taking a single bite from each fruit to judge flavor. Once the bite is made, the bugs move in. I had planned this ‘Cherokee Purple’ to be my last tomato sandwich of 2018, salted and peppered on crusty bread with a thin smear of mayonnaise.

*aji amarillo pumpkin 10:7 1

10/7. Squirrels here don’t usually eat hot peppers–the Aji amarillo were untouched except by a friendly pumpkin vine. My new favorite pepper to grow and eat, the Aji ignored the damning heat, flowering and fruiting with generosity throughout the season. Medium-hot, like a Serrano, with a sweet peachy-pineapple flavor. Fifteen delicate-looking plants easily yielded 10 pounds of fruit over four months. Sauteed with garlic and thyme for a starter, soups and stews, pickled, and pureed for a sauce that freezes well.

*amaranths 10:3

10/3. I’m hooked on the Solanaceae and Amaranthaceae families; beautiful, interesting and useful plants. I’ve yet to harvest the seeds of amaranth but I gladly eat the leaves. A delicious passalong green amaranth in front, “Hopi Red Dye’ behind. If you cut red amaranths for the house, use a clear vase–they turn the water red.

*pepper bed 10:7

The Garage Bed looking north, 10/7. Peppers, tomatoes, amaranths, Ricinus and Leonotis. You can see where the squirrels have been planting acorns under the bamboo.

*lonicera mac berries color 10:24

Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii, giving Autumn color and berries. Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, glowing gold at bottom right. Amur honeysuckle is a Top Five invasive plant in Kansas–I fight this plant more than any other in my garden. But twice a year, it is beautiful.

*gomphrena small barrows 10:8 2

The Small Barrows were a good trick this year. Planted with ‘Genovese’ basil, ‘Cherry Falls’ tomatoes, and Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’. The Gomphrena blooms mimic small tomatoes and I saw several people double-take. “What kind of tomatoes are those?”

*leonotis wind 10:3

Leonotis nepetefolia, the Lion’s Ear, in strong wind, 10/3. A mint growing to ten feet and more, their square stems are thick and very strong. I dry them most years for garden canes.

*leonotis lean 10:8 2

Leonotis on the lean, 10/8.

*leonotis nep ants

Leonotis with Ants. Six years and this is the first time I’ve noticed ants on the blossoms of this plant. The flowers are nectar-rich, hummingbirds flock to Leonotis. Hummingbirds are aggressively territorial and I’ve seen amazing aerial battles over the years.


*aster yucca 10:7

*gravel bench tangle 10:8

*new bed 10:8

*maclaeya cordata rain 2

Plume poppy, Maclaeya cordata, in the rain. They flopped this year and look like giant Alchemilla.

*ipomoeas batatas and quamoclit not bw

10/3. Not a b/w picture, taken at 5pm before a storm. Ipomoea batatas ‘Solar Tower Black’, a climbing sweet potato, and Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’, the feathery, white-flowered cypress vine, on the pole.

*urn bed rue 10:7

The lacy blue leaves of Rue, Ruta graveolens, remind me of sea plants. Host to swallowtail butterflies.

*main path empty space 10:3

Empty space on the Main Path, 10/3. Most of the pots that stood in the bare patch at left are now on the back patio.

*main path helianthus 10:7 2

Main Path Helianthus, 10/7.

*main path frosted 10:17

Main Path after first hard frost, 10/17, 8pm. Orange flowers of Gaillardia pulchella, a fine plant for most gardens.

*off we go 10:24

Klee set-up with yellow Amsonia hubrichtii, juvenile blue Juniperus, grasses, lilies and flowering tobacco.

*ride face east 10:8

The Ride facing East, 10/8. Sagging ragweed in the foreground.

*ride face east 10:24

The Ride facing East, 10/24.

*solanum quitoense 2

Solanum quitoense, 10/3.

*solanum quitoense frosted

Solanum quitoense frosted, 10/17.

*view from table 10:3 1

View from the table, 10/3.

*view from table 10:24 1

View from the table, 10/24.

*brush pile 10:24

Brush pile on the West fence. Eight feet tall by 20 wide in May, now five feet tall and collapsed to two feet by Spring. The soil underneath the pile will make a rich mulch. Home to dozens of my marauding rabbits, cute Eastern wood rats, and one tetchy groundhog.

*pots coming indoors 10:8

Pots holding for Winter quarters on the back porch. Rosemary, Fuschia and Pelargonium.

*lot going on

Lots going on.

*autumn light 10:24



*barolo anaheim ducks 1

Dad’s birthday lunch at Barolo, one of his favorite Italian restaurants. A lifelong sports fan, Dad was very happy to see members of the Anaheim Ducks at a nearby table. “They won a Stanley Cup,” he said with pride.

*barolo chicken piccata 2

Pollo piccata at Barolo.

*agave transplant 1

Agave encroaching on the front sidewalk were transplanted to the back yard. I was concerned that the sprinklers would provide too much water but…

*sprinkler bad

This sprinkler only waters the pavement. A chore for the next visit.

*brugmansia 1

Brugmansia borrowed from the neighbors.

*brugmansia 2

*papaya corner

Planted a Papaya in a sheltered corner. A transplanted rose and cuttings of Senecio, Crassula (guessing), and Pelargonium below.


Blood Banana, Musa acuminata var. zebrina, planted near the Fig Wall, Ficus repens.

*garage bed

Blank canvas by the garage.

*thunbergia salvia asclepias

A fine tangle: Thunbergia alata (‘Blushing Susie’, I think); white-flowered Salvia; and red-orange Asclepias curassavica.

*thunbergia purple flower unknown

The same Thunbergia with a striking and unknown purple-flower, perhaps a Hibiscus relative.

garage red plants

After 10 days away, back home to my own lovely tangles.







garage shadows

Sunplay on the back wall of the garage, west-facing. The amaranth on the right is twelve feet tall and still reaching. The seed (provenance unknown) was given by a friend as a “real good eating green.” The young leaves are indeed tender and unusually tasty, until hard heat sets in. Then the plant is set on growing straight and tall, leaning in September to disperse it’s seed and increase territory. I pull out far more than I keep but its still a keeper.

carrot grow bag sedum glads

Seeded ‘Touchon’ carrots in a grow bag this year. Budding mystery Sedum–ahem, Hyloteliphium–on the right. 9/5, no germination.

cricket katydid scudderia sp

Camouflaged. Katydid (family Tettigoniidae), munching on ‘Genovese’ basil.

lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, is in my Top Five lifelong plants. I have grown it in four counties, three states and six towns, often in pots. It is always beautiful, sometimes fragrant, tough, delicate, humble and highly attractive to insects. I hope to never be without it.

tapestry 4 8:16


Cucamelon, Melothria scabra, finally on the move. They hugged the ground until rain came at the beginning of August. Also known as Mexican sour gherkin and Sandita, “little watermelon.” Grape-sized when ripe, striped black and green. A good crunch, almost sour, cucumber green. Kelly Kindscher advises slicing them in half for salads.

bales ears

Always tickled to see the straw bales sprout. Rye, I think (Secale cereale). I’ve caught several neighbor cats eating it. Seeds sold as Cat Grass are often rye. Nice set up for the Taro, Colocasia esculenta.

gravel bed bench 8:16

Tritunia ‘Blue Star’ on the gravel bench 8/16.

gravel bench 8:22

Gravel bench 8/22. Thyme, Talinum, sage, miniature roses, lilies and fading Echinacea. A wave of yellow Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Light Green’ crashing from the left. Meyer lemon in the pot at left, rhubarb chard seeds in the pot at right.

gravel bench 8:31

Gravel bench 8/31. Peachy Rosa ‘At Last’ in bloom on the bench.

rosa at last

Rosa ‘At Last’ from a quart pot planted in April. Rich soil, mulch and monthly feedings of fish emulsion. Fourth bloom flush so far, slight fragrance on hot evenings. Sweet alyssum seedlings coming up underneath. Advertised as 3’x3′, it will go in the ground mid-September.

nepeta lysimachia plectranthus

The future home of Rosa ‘At Last’, between the blue and gold. Catmint on the left, Creeping Jenny at right. A wee Plectranthus in the bottom right corner.

ipomoea quamoclit alba

Cypress vine piling up on the left, Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’.

little path nicotiana bella

Little path facing West, 8/22. The pink-white trumpets of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana x mutabilis ‘Bella’, held aloft on strong, thin stems at right.

little path face west

Little path, 8/31. The Nicotiana at right now stripped by tomato hornworms (likely). At back left, magenta-red Madagascar Periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus–a Catharanthus species is increasingly used to dramatic effect against childhood Leukemia. ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil and yellow chard mixed in.

main path south entrance

Main path, South entrance, 8/31.

main path pots 8:22

Main path pots facing East, 8/22.

ricinus amaranthus

Spiky flower heads of Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ at left; chenille tresses of Amaranthus cruentus ‘Hopi Red Dye’ at right.

tomato amana orange

Tomato ‘Amana Orange’. Nearly all of the early fruit was spoiled by blossom end rot, occurring when soil moisture is inconsistent, as it was during our June/July heatwave. A few fruits are ripening unscathed.

garage bed face south 8:22

Garage bed face South, 8/22.

garage bed face north 8:31

Garage bed face North, 8/31.

garage bed 2

Garage bed face West, 8/16. Wild arugula owns the pathway.

fungus yellow rosemary 8:4

A striking yellow mushroom, Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, popped up in the rosemary pots, 8/4. Common in warm, organically rich soil. I’ve never seen it before but I did go heavy on the compost this year and it has been very warm. It also came up in the lemon pot a week later.

robber fly Promachus rufipes

The Red-Footed Cannibal Robber Fly, Promachus rufipes. What an excellent name; also known as the Bee Panther. Reputed to kill hummingbirds on the wing, Robber flies feed primarily on flying insects: bees and wasps, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and their own kind. They are strong and swift in the air. They find elevated camouflage (as above), perching immobile until prey flies by. Rocketing onto the backs of their targets, they use strong legs to enfold and immobilize, and inject a paralyzing enzyme via a sharp proboscis. All on the wing.


gladiolus white

White Gladiolus bloom. I’ve never grown Glads before but I’ve bought plenty from florists over the decades. I planted 30 corms in Spring; 10 each of green, white and yellow. Several sent up spikes at the end of July but they soon burned. Two whites have bloomed so far.

leonotis nepetifolia

In early September, the tallest plants in the garden are usually the Leonotis nepetifolia, aka Lion’s Ears or Klip Dagga, the orange-flowered mint at top right. Hummingbirds are crazy about it, nectar-rich, easily accessed, and one of the last energy resources of the season before they move South. This plant is seven feet tall now, 10 feet easily in two weeks, probably two feet taller by the middle of October when it will fall flat on the ground. I planted it five years ago, a Zone 9 tropical in a (then) Zone 5 garden, and it has reseeded more and more each year. Now, like Perilla and Amaranthus, an introduced plant requiring editorial diligence.

fuschia gartenmeister 8:16

Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’, backed by blooming Plume Poppies, Maclaeya cordata, 8/16.

opuntia snowball echeveria

An un-rooted pad of Opuntia ‘Snowball’, hopefully rooting, and a tender Echeveria struggling to bloom.

opuntia nebraska orange

Fingers also crossed for a pad of Opuntia ‘Nebraska Orange’ across the Little Path from Opuntia ‘Snowball’.

ipomoea quamocilt ipomoea batatas tritunia blue star

Ipomoea batatas ‘Solar Tower Black; Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’, the white-flowered Cypress Vine; and Tritunia ‘Blue Star’. All in the family.

pumpkin monarda

Pumpkin ‘Jarrahdale’; Monarda fistulosa re-sprouting behind; and Sweetbay‘s Bidens aristolchia moving up, top left.

ride face east 8:22 1

Ride face East, 8/22.

ride face west 8:31

Ride face West, 8/31.

ragweed giant

Giant Ragweed, Ambrosia trifida, (Asteraceae). Long ago it was pointed out as a troublesome weed so I routinely pulled it out. This year, because it was the only plant in July that was tall, green and thriving, I let it be. A visiting botanist identified it at the end of the month. For three weeks, I’ve been weeping in the garden like a Celine Dion song and I thought it was the misery of age. That ragweed is gone.

A final note about Ambrosia trifida: It blooms at the same time as Goldenrod, Solidago sp., and because the Goldenrod is showier, it is falsely accused as the allergen. Ragweed makes you sneeze, Goldenrod feeds the bees.

peppers santa fe

Baby ‘Santa Fe’ peppers, thick-skinned and Serrano-hot when red and ripe, about the size of a ‘Cubanelle’. A bone-warming heat for soups and sauces.

view from table 8:4

View from the table, 8/4.

view from table 8:16

View from the table, 8/16.

view from table 8:31

View from the table, 8/31.

solanum quitoensetapestry 2

solanum jungle 8:22

Solanum jungle.

stump pots 8:31

For the third year in a row, Spring is getting shorter, June and July are much hotter, August wetter. Bitter cold last Winter but only three inches of snow. More bugs, more rabbits, busier voles, and poison ivy everywhere, even in gravel. Lantana over-wintering at minus 15.




*feeling the heat chamaecyparis miscanthus 7:29

We’re all talking about the heat. Unprecedented fire and drought all over the world. We all can’t afford my spending as much water next year as I did in 2018. On July 30, my accounting confirmed that my vegetable garden expenses exceeded the cost of buying the same produce from the farmers market. That’s a moot argument: it isn’t the gardening game and there aren’t enough small farms. We have to become sincere  phenologists, we have to think ahead.  I’m planting Forestiera, Opuntia and Portulaca for 2019, and reading up on swales and dry farming.

*entrance 7:29

Entrance 7/29. Cloudy day, storms on radar bearing down, only spitty rain came. Two cloudy days followed–the plants had a respite from cruel sun and heat.

*barrows small 7:29

Two small barrows, handles sawed off, placed end to end under a Hackberry but still too hot. Tomato ‘Cherry Falls’ and ‘Genovese’ basil. Tomato flowering shut down after the second week in the 90s, early June.

*Lilium ‘Scheherazade' 7

Lilium ‘Scheherazade’, fourth year, now tough. Not a bit of scorch on those beautiful leaves. Seven-footers, before leaning. They share space with a four-year stand of Monarda fistulosa, also a shameless leaner. I’m not an enthusiastic staker but I’ll give them better direction next year.

*lilium ‘scheherazade' 8

Lilium ‘Scheherazade’ in flower. The one on the right is a week older than the left. The new flowers have extraordinary substance, almost feel like plastic.

*lilium saltarello apricot 2

Lilium ‘Saltarello’. Flash in twilight.

*sun scorch on lily

Scorch, early July.

*lilium auratum gold band echinacea

Scorch 7/17. Lilium ‘Legend’ and Echinacea purpurea. That was as good as that lily got this year.

*lilium auratum gold band eryngium yuccifolium

Lilium ‘Legend’ again, faring better in the company of Eryngium yuccifolium in a hot, gritty bed.

*lilium tiger

The Tiger Lilies all bloomed at once and barely lasted four days.

*lilium black beauty cypress vine

‘Black Beauty’ lily suffering. Rabbits took it down last year, now beaten by heat.

*garage new paint

TP and JT put new paint on the garage.

*jordan briceland

I was glad to bring this Jordan Briceland sculpture down from the South-facing garage wall, placed by the artist seven years ago. It was deep blue then. My plan was to set two posts standing six feet above ground in the thicket along the fence line and attach the sculpture at eye level–a short, pruned path leading to it–to block a dull view and prying eyes. A job better suited to Autumn than 100-degree days in July. I leaned it against a honeysuckle trunk in the interim. Two weeks ago, a storm threw the sculpture to the ground, snapping off most of the protrusions and dismantling the frame, and giving us two inches of rain.

*insect butterfly pearl crescent phyciodes tharos

Pearl Crescent Butterfly, Phyciodes tharos, resting on Hibiscus acetellosa.

*insect imperial moth Eacles imperialis 7:28 1

The Imperial Moth, Eacles imperialis, seven-inch wingspan, 7/28.

*gravel bench floor

The floor of the Gravel Bench. Thyme, Hylotelepium ‘Blade Runner’, and regular self-seeder, Talinum paniculatum ‘Kingswood Gold’, less gold with each year. ‘Jewels of Opar’ is the charming common name of this succulent plant, young leaves good in salad.

*red stems three

Three red stems. Left to right: Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’; Hibiscus acetosella ‘Mahogany Splendor’; Amaranthus cruentus x powellii ‘Hopi Red Dye’.

*helenium flowering early

Three- year Helenium blooming mid-July, a month early. At least its upright at this point–last year it was a groundcover when it bloomed.

*hyperion moonglow

Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ and Juniperus ‘Moonglow’.

*hemerocallis yellow chartreuse noid

Hemerocallis ‘Wedding Band’, two feet tall with an eight-inch flower. From the Greek: hemeros (day) and kallos (beauty), we get the common name of Daylily.

*main path pots 3

Main path pots.

*solanum quitoense urn bed

Solanum quitoense, Naranjilla.

*empty bed 7:29

Seedlings of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana x mutabilis ‘Bella’, on the move after deep rain at the end of July.

*little path bedraggled

Little Path facing East.

*trellis north

*elder fruit sparse

Sparse fruit set on the native Sambucus canadensis ‘Burroughs Creek’ this year. Hoping the stressed berries are extra-potent.

*colocasia 7:29

*buckets face west above 7:17

*view from table 7:29

View from the table, 7/29.

*pointillistic 7:9


That Liriope needs thinning and transplanting. I hesitate to call it invasive, all successful plants are, but it is certainly vigorous. A member of the lily family.

caterpillar petunia

Dapper caterpillar on Petunia. Still unidentified.



empress wu

Hosta “Empress Wu” spent her first two years in a big clay pot. Now she’s under the mulberry tree: morning sun then dappled shade. Covered in birdshit for a few weeks while the mulberry is fruiting but that’s why we have hoses. “Empress Wu” is touted as the largest Hosta in cultivation, so far. Five feet tall by nine feet wide. The little cage behind contains nettle seedlings.

firepit evening

Seedlings that spent the season in pots are now in the ground.

jalapeno final

The jalapenos were generous this year. They perished after three nights below freezing.

amaranthus hopi red dye seedheads

Chenille seedheads of Amaranthus “Hopi Red Dye.”

chamaecyparis & friends

Fading lilies with Artemisia, Chamaecyparis, and blue-flowering Perovskia.

maquis 3

Maquis 1

maquis face west

Maquis 2. Few people in Kansas are familiar with the maquis biome, though similar to the prairie, so my affectation usually goes uncontested. What barely qualifies this bit of the garden as maquis is Mediterranean plants, lavender and thyme primarily, and dry, rocky soil. Faking a maquis doesn’t come easy in Kansas clay: two feet under these plants is an eight-inch layer of pea gravel, three 40-pound bags and a lot of digging.

malevolence fruit 2

Fruits of Solanum atropurpureum, common name “Malevolence,” generally considered hardy to Zone 10. It has re-seeded for three years in this Zone 6b garden.

zinnia will rogers 1

Dahlia “Bishop of Llandalff” struggles in our unpredictable weather. Zinnia “Will Rogers” doesn’t.

thunbergia final

Tropical Thunbergia alata flowers profusely in September and October, turns to mush at first frost.

barrow zuke 2

Butterfly barrow.

oyster 1

The shiitake mushroom logs, at top, gave at least 20 pounds this year. The oyster mushroom logs were deemed a failure until this bloom after the first frost.

oyster 2

Oyster mushrooms, “White Pearl” here, flush in cold, damp weather. Sauteed with garlic and jalapenos then scrambled with eggs.

lemon 1

Centuries of practical experience recommends removing all fruit buds in the first producing year of any fruit tree, to allow that fruiting energy to be directed to plant growth. This two-year Meyer lemon, eight inches tall when it arrived, had four baby fruits in Spring. I couldn’t resist keeping one.

baroque rococco

new bed 2

The purple (more like hot pink), coneflowers were re-seeding selfishly in the garden. I prefer the whites. I corralled the pink rogues in new beds by the bench. The goldfinches are crazy about the seeds.

morning glory trellis

“Heavenly Blue” morning glories are accurately described. I threw a handful of seeds at the base of this trellis when planting the Dead Log elderberry bed in August. And they bloomed. They seem to do better with afternoon shade here.

toadstool indicator of oyster fruit

This wild fellow reminded me to check the mushroom logs.

bay 1

Laurus nobilis, the Mediterranean Bay tree, my dear friend. Bought as a three-inch start five years ago, now four feet and seemingly amenable to my topiary dream. It comes on the back porch every Winter.

pokeweed snakeweed

Pokeweed and snakeweed.

okra bugs

Okra “Stewart’s Zeebest” was so productive that I’ve had enough for this year. Glad these bugs can use the rest.

salvia elegans first blooms

Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, with few blooms in too much shade. In full sun, they flower with abandon but require daily water. Trying to find the balance.

solanum atropurpureum fruit

Little Path facing West.

pepper chinese five-color

Chinese “Five Color” peppers are remarkably cold-tolerant. This photo was taken after a 28-degree night. Very hot; use sparingly for salsa and Arrabbiata.

ride face east 1

The Ride, facing East.

poison ivy 1

Poison Ivy coloring up.

gravel bench 1

Gravel bed in progress, for Thymus, Dianthus, small bulbs and miniature roses.

view table 1

View from the table.

monty model


My ideal garden is a cross between a Victorian family farm and Ninfa. What I usually end up with is a cross between an unkempt laboratory and a set for the Planet of the Apes. “Right plant, right place” and “Nature bats last” are my primary principles, both inferring tolerance for a high degree of informality. Last Spring, I was stymied by a visitor who described the garden as “kind of municipal.” Was it the zinnias? Another friend called it “a good place to take a nap.” Whatever the garden is, this was it’s most floriferous year and I have the birds and bugs to prove it.

barrow thyme

The Barrow of Thyme.

bidens 1

The yellow flowers of Bidens aristosa in the foreground, orange Thunbergia alata–one of the many plants called Black-Eyed Susan–on the tower behind. Red Amaranthus cruentus “Hopi Red Dye” on the lean.

cukes 2

The last of the “Poona Kheera” cucumbers.

helenium perilla amaranth 2

Burnt-orange blooms of Helenium “Flammendes Kathchen” jostling with purple Shiso, Perilla frutescens, and Hopi Red Dye amaranth. Naked stem of red Ricinus up front. I’m a big fan of Rousseau.

barrow circle trellis


Unknown pink-mottled, burgundy-leaved Coleus behind the fire pit.

ligustrum coleus ipomoea zinnia

Bottom to top: the waxy, variegated leaves of “Jack Frost” privet, Ligustrum japonicum; that unknown burgundy Coleus, which takes a surprising amount of afternoon sun; Ipomoea batatas “Sweet Caroline Bronze”; and, in the barrow, Zinna “Profusion Apricot,” yellow and white Lantana camara, and an expiring zucchini. The white Lantana, typically hardy to zone 10, over-wintered in open ground, zone 6b. A native/naturalized Euonymus climbing the elm tree.

ride west

The Ride, facing west.

ride east

The Ride, facing east.

canna red king

Canna x generalis “Red King Humbert” blooming late. I would grow this for the foliage alone. Below, bush basil, wild aster and a potted banana seedling.

little path 2

The Little Path, facing west. Bottom right, a toppled castor bean, Ricinus communis “Carmencita”; bottom left, the first blooms of the “Bluebird” aster, Symphyotricum laeve. Above are the ripening stems of “Scheherazade” lilies and the flopping stems of bee balm, Monarda fistulosa. The Chamaecyparis flopped upon is the second plant I put in this garden seven years ago. I owe my stolid Chamaecyparis friend two things: more shade from the afternoon sun, and to look up it’s full name. The rosy flowers of Sedum, ahem, Hylotelephium “Autumn Joy” attract an amazing number and variety of insects.

aster yucca

“Bluebird” aster sprawling on Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, on the right, and a variegated Yucca filamentosa “Color Guard” at left. A blue “Moonglow” juniper seedling, Juniperus scopulorum, center right. Chives, red valerian, thyme and yarrow fill the gaps.

okra bed 1

Okra does well here and I try new types regularly. “Stewart’s Zeebest” is a Louisiana heirloom touted as spineless, extra tender, smooth (no ribs), and heavy yielding. So far, its living up to it’s press: seven-inch pods are perfectly tender. Blaring red “Will Rogers” zinnias share the bed.

main path face north

The Main Path, facing north. Right of center, the Popcorn Cassias, Cassia/Senna didimobotrya, have been struggling lately, shedding leaves and refusing to bloom. Might be too damp in that spot this year. Leaning in from the left, the extraterrestrial orange flowers of Lion’s Ear, Leonotis nepetifolia, a nuisance self-seeder this year–a mint, after all. Most of the plants are at least eight feet tall. In Autumn, they start to lean, a very efficient method for increasing their territory. If the plants aren’t pulled before the seed ripens, and the stems are allowed to fall, in Spring you’ll find clumps of easily transplanted seedlings coming up at least 10 feet from the parent. Lion’s Ear is a powerful hummingbird attractor.

tomato last

The last tomato, “Amana Orange.” Misrepresented as an Amish heirloom, it was selected by Gary Staley of Brandon, Florida, in 1984. The fruit tended to crack this year but we had unusual summer rains. The fruits are a fetching shade of apricot-orange, the texture is meaty, the taste is good–more sweet than acid.

snake path full length west

The Snake Path looking patchy. Baked, then drenched, all summer. The Blue Bed on the left is due for an overhaul. A storm at the end of the month flattened the Impatiens balsamina “Peppermint Stick,” and there was too much shade for the pineapple sages, Salvia elegans, to produce a decent flush of bloom.

rose prairie sunset fading

Probably the last bloom on “Winter Sunset” for the season. It spent this year in a pot, recovering from a near-fatal rabbit encounter. It will go back in the ground in a couple of weeks.

hosta guacamole

Hosta “Guacamole” on the fade, attended by a self-sown orange Impatiens. The yellow Coleus to the right of the Impatiens is also self-sown. Serious zone-pushing this year. The plume poppy, Maclaeya cordata–those deeply cut, gray-green leaves–could use more sun.

elder patch

The Dead Log elderberry patch was planted from cuttings in early March, in a small clearing between a mulberry tree and a walnut tree. The plants get three or four hours of direct sun a day, then mostly dappled shade. They’re looking well. “Heavenly Blue” morning glories on the trellis.

lemon portulaca

Potted Meyer lemon under-planted with a peachy Portulaca. Surrounding pots contain Agapanthus and “Apricot Profusion” zinnias.

pelargonium table

Pelargoniums on the back patio.

face east

Facing east. Snake Path on the left, Little Path to the right.

view from table end sept

View from the table, September 26, 2017.

thunbergia amaranth

bidens 2








long path face north

Entrance to main path looking North.

snake path impatiens

Six inches of rain in 60 hours. Five inches of mulch were swept from the Snake Path to smother a seedling thyme hedge 20 feet away. Balsam responding with first scarlet blooms.

ride face west

The Ride, facing due West.

drunk drive 1

August 16. A woman in a red Trans-Am going at least 50 in a 35 zone “lost control of her vehicle” and took out the mailboxes in my neighbor’s drive.

drunk drive 2

And cruelly pruned a Yucca and flattened a Miscanthus. It was a hit-and-run but the driver behind her got the license plate number. The Yucca is already sprouting and what’s left of the Miscanthus is blooming. If only humans were still as adaptable and resilient as plants.

beanville 1

Beanville. First attempt at growing bush beans in containers, a yellow flagelot. I get a handful of beans most days. They adapt well with daily watering and weekly fertilizing with fish emulsion and the occasional sprinkle of coffee grounds. I over-planted this time: the big pot on the stump contains seven plants. Three next year.

clematis close

Clematis terniflora. Rampant, to 30 feet in trees. In my garden, this is a tough and cursed weed. And you too would curse it as I do, until late August. For two weeks it scents the air with sweet vanilla. Everyone in the neighborhood enjoys it. It is a Type 3 Clematis, cut hard above the lowest bud break in March.

canna leaves 3

Leaves of Canna “Red King Humbert” at 7pm.

canna flower backlight

Flower of Canna “Robert Kemp” at 7pm.

back door view

View from back door.

back door flash

Down the steps.

back door long view approaching storm

Off the patio and towards the garden with approaching storm.

amaranthus topple

Amaranth toppled by a storm. Unless they’re hurting a neighbor, I leave plants to do what they do. Now that the stem is closer to horizontal, every node has a new upwards shoot. Rosarians know this.

centranthus ruber

The pink flower is Centranthus ruber, a personal gardening triumph for 2017. I have known this plant for much of my life, in Spain and California. Loves free drainage, which takes years of careful soil work in a clay-heavy Kansas garden. This is my third year of growing these plants from seed and I had good germination this Spring. This one bloomed in a pot, perhaps a lesser triumph but I’m very pleased. I have eight more fattening up in my short patch of sandy, gravelly soil and, as a gardener, I expect more triumphs next year.

elberberry patch log

This elderberry patch was planted with six-inch cuttings in February 2017. “Heavenly Blue” Morning Glories climb the trellis.

eclipse leonotis

Eclipse. Mostly clouded. Leonotis nepetifolia, seven feet so far.

swallowtail caterpillars

Eclipse. Swallowtail caterpillars undeterred from chomping on fennel.

eclipse 1

Eclipse. At the darkest, chartreuse and yellow leaves glowed.

monty sculpture stump

How does it feeel?” Monty Don joins in on the chorus of one of our favorite garden work songs.

party down

persicaria virginiana

Persicaria virginiana, Virginia Knotweed. Many gardeners here pull this plant as a weed. I find it subtle and elegant. It does run quickly but easily controlled.

petunia blue 2

Petunias are often tricky in this humid climate but I always pick up a few from Vinland in Spring. They are good companion plants, a Solanaceae. This one, a NoID, appears far more blue in photos than real light, but its a real doer–non-stop blooms since July.

lilium black beauty 2

The shy blooms of first-year Lilium “Black Beauty,” an oriental hybrid (L. henryi x L. speciosum). I’ve had it reach seven feet in gardens past.

rose prairie sunset bud 2

A Griffith Buck rose, “Prairie Sunset,” in bud.

rose prairie sunset open 1

“Prairie Sunset” in bloom. The fragile blooms usually last for three days, fading to white, unless beautiful iridescent beetles find them.

shiitake logs flush 3 1

Third flush on the shiitake logs. We’ve had at least 30 pounds so far.

thyme barrow

The Wheelbarrow of Thyme.

snake path face south

View from the table, early August.

vacant lot face southwest

helenium perilla polygonum

Helenium “Flammendes Kathchen, Perilla, Polygonum orientale, “Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate.” The burgundy plumes of Celosia “Dragon’s Breath” in the background, left.

hosta impatiens

malevolence fruit 2

Solanum atropurpureum in fruit.

colocasia leaf 2

Colocasia esculenta.

talinum paniculatum

The bright, fleshy leaves of Talinum paniculatum ‘Limon,‘ Jewels of Opar, are a good salad leaf. Like purslane, Talinum is classified as a succulent. The pink flowers and scarlet seed capsules held on long stalks are charming. A regular self-seeder now.


Sambucus canadensis “Burroughs Creek.”

barrow zucchini long viewfriends over

*view table seat 2

View from the garden table, early July.

*view table seat end july

View from the table at the end of July.

*barrow love lies 1

Amaranthus caudatus ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ and ‘Poona Kheera’ cucumbers in the big barrow in early July.

*barrow love lies 2

The same barrow, another trellis added on the other side, at the end of July. I always enjoy the adventures of cucumber tendrils.

*barrow cukes

Cucumbers coming on. ‘Poona Kheera’ develops a russet skin at maturity, which might contribute to it’s prolonged holding capacity at large size, always juicy and tender.

*snake path before

The Snake Path before.

*snake path after

Snake Path after. The small plants edging the hump (snake) on the left side are old-fashioned Balsam, Impatiens balsamina ‘Peppermint Stick’. Despite being heat-lovers, the four hours of sun they get in Summer causes severe wilting and required daily can-watering. With a deep mulch of hay, I now water lightly twice a week in 90F+ temperatures.


Its a fake snake, sent by a friend shortly after I began making this garden seven years ago. I wasn’t expecting the package when it arrived, and when I opened it, I jumped four feet backwards from a standing position. An excellent garden gift. I move it to a different position every year and enjoy the occasional cries of alarm from visitors. Of course, once Winter passes, I have forgotten all about it when I’m cleaning away debris. This year, I managed to jump four feet backwards from a seated position. The shock is like a Spring tonic; I’m on high alert for a couple of days. A brush with mortality is often useful, an immediate change in priorities.

*pond long view

The big pond in the morning. Can you spot the snapping turtle? Hint: The carapace looks black.

*pond snapper

Hello you, Chelydra serpentina. Several snappers have occupied the pond over the years. They come in from the creek, Burroughs Creek, which runs along the south side at the front of the property. The creek usually dries up by August, except for a few mosquito pools, and the snappers come looking for deeper water. Once in, they are generally very shy, ducking underwater at the slightest intrusion. This youngster is getting used to me but he is not alone in the pond. I was lucky enough to sneak up on Emily Dickinson, the Queen of All Snappers, this morning, a resident for four years. She has, at least, a three-foot carapace, and is easily four feet from snout to tail end (females grow larger than males). I fling raw chicken legs in there every now and then because, other than each other, I can’t imagine what they could find to eat. The pond freezes solid in Winter and they survive. Remarkable beings.

*lily tangle

Two-year Lilium ‘Scheherazade’ making way through a tangle of native Bee Balm, Agastache ‘Black Adder’ top left, Castor Bean and Iris.

*fish pepper canna close

The Fish Pepper is a hybrid of either the Serrano or Cayenne, TBA, with the recessive gene for albinism. At the bottom right are nearly all-white leaves; most of the leaves are green with white mottling. This plant was overwintered on the back porch and is now heavy with fruit.

*queen anne bed i mow around it leave it alone

The far west side of the property is a blank canvas, weedy with Amur Honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii and Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra. Subtraction is the game here: mowing, pruning and sawing. Every year, I mow around a large patch of ground just to see what comes up. This year, Queen Anne dominates.

*queen anne lace fleabane best and this is what it does

And this is the beauty it gives. I have doubts that this the straight Daucus carota–it lacks the central dark floret. Could be Daucus pusillus.

*castor self-seeded

Self-seeded Castor Beans, Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’.

*verbascum monarda

The white-flowered Mullein, Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken, fronts the purple haze of native Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa, with the orange blooms of Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans, climbing the utility pole in back.

*shiitake logs

Pleasantly surprised by Shiitake after a thunderstorm.

*shiitake long best

A fine dinner here.

*nicotiana syvestris

Self-seeded Woodland Tobacco, Nicotiana sylvestris, in the herb bed. They always find a right place.

clematis jackmannii canna robt kemp

This purple Clematis jackmannii was four feet up the post in April until decapitation by rabbits. Nevertheless, it persisted, now flowering two feet up. Beside it is a Spring-planted ‘Black Beauty’ lily now setting buds. The large maroon leaf in back is Canna x generalis ‘Red King Humbert‘, overwintered in the ground without mulch–highly unusual. Our winters are distinctly warmer than a decade ago; we had very little snow last year.

hosta maclaeya polygonum

Left, Hosta Guacamole; Maclaeya cordata, the Plume Poppy, with glaucous, incised leaves and sprays of white blooms; and deep green Persicaria virginiana, Virginia Knotweed, soon in delicate flower.

*whit bones

A sculpture by Whit Bones atop a dead elm trunk. Pollarded Catalpa bignonioides on the right. Young Buddleia ‘Black Knight’ at the base.

helianthus annus chocolate cherry

Helianthus annus ‘Chocolate Cherry’ and another Whit Bones sculpture on the stump behind.

*chasmanthium latifolium

Chasmanthium latifolium, Indian Wood Oats.

*lilium bright diamond tragic beauty

This ‘Bright Diamond’ lily is a favorite–the first lily I planted here, long-blooming and intensely fragrant–and having a hard season. Deer, rabbits, floods, wind… Once the foliage ripens, it will be moved to a better situation.



The Stinkhorn is a fungus in the Phallaceae, hence the colloquial name “Devil Dicks.” This is carrion-scented Mutinus caninus, swarming with flies.

*asclepias gaillardia helianthus beat down storm

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa; Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata; and Dogtooth Daisy, Helenium ‘Flammendes Kathchen’ flattened after a downpour.


*more zuke

HR Giger undoubtedly took a design tip from zucchini. Q: Why do country people always lock their car doors when they come to town? A: So some farmer won’t slip a bag of zucchini on the back seat.


*dianthus pushing through

This tiny red Dianthus, provenance unknown, has had an even rougher time than the ‘Bright Diamond’ lily. Moved three times in three years, in every “perfect” place I put it, it is soon swamped by it’s neighbors. Next season, it will have it’s rich reward (see next photo). In Kansas, Dianthus transplanted in Autumn frequently rot over Winter. Wait until new growth is up and strong in Spring, then divide and transplant.

*purple grit quartzite 1

The light purple stone mulch is chicken and turkey grit, 100% quartzite, $13 for a 50lb. bag at Orscheln. In Britain, a nation of gardeners, horticultural grit is available at every nursery, at 1/4th the price here. Chick grit is the closest we get in retail America. In combination with compost, it improves drainage in heavy clay soils, and makes a great mulch–perfect for the beleaguered Dianthus, Mediterranean herbs, natives, succulentsany plant that needs quick drainage from the crown. Thyme, Daylilies, Sedum and burgundy Gaillardia are already in place. After looking at it for a couple of weeks, I don’t mind the color at all, and it will be covered in green soon enough.

*purple grit quartzite 2

*calamintha main path

On the Long Path, the bright green leaves, center, belong to the tropical Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue, flowering best in September, when the worst of the heat has passed. It leans against Iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby’ and is flanked by Calamint aka Nepitella, Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta, a member of the Mint family and a prime honeybee plant. It tastes like a cross between mint and oregano, partners well in vegetable and mushroom dishes, and makes a fine tea. After four years in the garden, I can report that Calamintha self-seeds freely in NE Kansas, maybe too much, as is the case with Perilla and Ageratum. Lamb’s Ears, the sterile, non-flowering Stachys ‘Helene von Stein’, are the gray-leaved plants along the stones.

*phyllody 3

See those bright green clusters of leaf-like structures where flowers should be on this white Echinacea? That is phyllody, the result of a hormonal imbalance caused by environmental conditions such as heat stress and drought, and by severe insect damage. In this garden, the vector is most likely a phloem-munching insect: Hemiptera, the Leafhopper. I don’t mind the occasional mutation in the garden but best practice is to pull and discard affected plants. Don’t compost them.

*lilium gold band leonotis

Lilium ‘Gold Band’ on the right; the beanstalk stem of Leonotis nepetifolia, Lion’s Ear, on the left

*tiger lilies

Tiger Lilies, Lilium lancifolium, in bloom on the north side of the house, the first flowers from their smothered bulbs in at least a decade. The brush along the fence line was extremely thick and each year I thin out more and more. Two years ago, I noticed three-foot lily stems poking through. I cleared a bit more space around them. Last year, the stems grew to six feet but didn’t bloom, instead storing energy in the bulbs for this year’s spectacular resurrection.


pelargonium table in disappearing woodpile

Also on the north side, the Pelargonium table in the disappearing woodpile.

*moth bumblebee monarda

What hovers like a hummingbird, has antennae like a moth, and looks like a bumblebee? Hemaris diffinis, the Bumblebee Moth, all over that Monarda.

garage tower cuke tomato

Tower 2 is home to ‘National’ pickling cucumber, a self-seeded cherry tomato, Thunbergia alata and ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory. Cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus ‘Dwarf Blue’, are dying off at the base, making room for seedlings of ‘Ragged Jack’ kale next month.


Jalapenos and Petunia ‘Ultra Star Red‘.

*little path overhead

The pots bordering the Little Path mostly contain Mediterranean herbs requiring free drainage: ‘Munstead’ lavender, hyssop and rosemary.

posts painted

The new trellis posts have been trimmed and painted–a suitably innocuous hue, I think, which should disappear when covered with growth next year. The installation of the posts has caused enough disruption in these beds this season. I’ll let the plants grow on undisturbed and deal with the remaining construction when the garden is finished for the year.

cassia leaves

The leaves of the Popcorn Bush, Cassia didimobotrya.

*7pm light

July 29, 2017, 7pm.

monty almost suppertime

Almost suppertime.

*love lies on coleus