Back and blooming

I understand that I am far too inattentive to regularly grow anything from seed or by rooted cuttings, so I am quite pleased by the success in growing blackberry lilies (Iris domestica, aka Belamcanda chinensis, below) from seed to today’s blooms. Dozens of seeds were collected from a variety of sources, and while I managed to kill many with an irregular watering schedule, many survived that have been planted the past few springs.

In their second year, seed grown lilies are flowering, though substantial pruning of an overly vigorous yellow flowered baptisia was required for a clump wedged between long established plants. The baptisia does not suffer as a third of stems are chopped to the ground, and now there is sufficient sunlight for blackberry lilies to flower. The same process must be followed in late spring every year, but this minor inconvenience will be rewarded by glorious summer blooms.

Yesterday, I returned home after two weeks of travel. With several thunderstorms in my absence this unirrigated garden is in superb condition. Even in drought the garden is not irrigated, though several pots on the patios demand regular attention, so I have no concern leaving the garden untended in mid July. A few towering weeds were plucked the evening of my return. The new planting area in the lower, rear garden is starting to cover again with one of several ground hugging weeds, but these almost look as if they were planted, so I have to jerk them out but mostly just keep them from creeping into other plants. Now that the mulch of leaves has decayed I might have to add a layer of pine bark to the new bed that has less plant coverage than the rest of the garden.

While blackberry lilies are at their peak bloom with only a few flowers missed, I have returned to white flowering Bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora, above and below) just past their peak, but visited by numerous swallowtail butterflies that were only occasionally seen prior to my trip. The past few years I missed the entire flowering season for the buckeyes, so I’m pleased to be back to see any flowers.

Two pink flowered ‘Ruby Spice’ summer sweets (Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, below) are shaded, one in part shade is flowering with the more shaded one a week behind. The pinks are in dry ground, while a younger white flowered summersweet is just beginning to flower in damp soil.

While pollinators are attracted to buckeyes and summersweets, it is mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, below) that brings an abundance of varied bees and wasps. With so much activity, shy butterflies and moths are rarely seen on its flowers, but bees hardly notice my presence as they gorge on the mint’s nectar. The vigorous clump must occasionally be chopped back, and with the adjacent planting area expanded a year ago I must watch so that it does not overwhelm its new neighbors.

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