Monday, August 7, 2023

The July Garden


Sheila's Delight - one of the three roses I grow

The summer months of July and August are not big months in the garden. The "show" happens in May and June whereas July and August can even look a little tired. Many plants are past their blooming prime and others are not quite there yet. But still, there is a lot going on and beauty could be found everywhere.

I always love looking from the fence toward our house - look at those shadows on the walkway! The Japanese Maple is doing really well this year. When I bought it, it was tiny and lived in a pot for many years. Finally, 12 years ago I planted it in this big tub after I had removed the bottom of it, so the roots can actually grow into the ground. The tree really took off after that. In July I also cut down the rhododendron that was next to it, and now the little tree can show off all its glory.

Hello Goodbye - the poppies were on their very last leg - usually they don't make it into July - and the California fuchsia (Epilobium 'Bowman's Hybrid') started blooming toward the end of the month. These flowers are exceptionally drought tolerant and display a spectacular color when in full bloom.

Last year my Drumstick Allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) didn't do much and left me underwhelmed, but this year was a completely different story. It bloomed for weeks and weeks and only toward the end of the month showed some signs of tiredness. 

I often have deer strolling through my front garden, leaving little presents. They also determine what I can and can't plant. Often they obviously don't get the message that they're not supposed to eat certain plants (these rascals even nibbled on my young olive tree).

The lavender was still going strong which surprised me since usually they're done by July. Not this year, when everything was at least two weeks late because of the colder than usual and extremely wet winter.

Some of the Echinacea was doing better than usual, some were a bit blah - they just do whatever they want and I'm fine with it as long as they don't die on me (which some of them did). Unfortunately, plants that do well in everybody else's garden do poorly in mine. The worst is milkweed - I never get it to grow. Last year I planted native milkweed that is supposed to do very well in California - but not in my garden. I tried so many times without any success or just tiny, tired plants, so now I've decided to just let it go and not try again. 

On the other hand, my Vitex agnus castus is outperforming itself this year. This variety is called "Sensational" and it sure lives up to its name. This is a wonderful small tree, drought tolerant and thrives on neglect. The deer don't like it either. I have three more of these, all at different stages of growth, and one white one. Behind it (in the left photo) you can see the "puffs" of the Smoketree.

Verbena bonariensis is a favorite of mine and also of the bees - doesn't need much summer water and creates a beautiful accent throughout the garden. It mingles with the blue bog sage (Salvia uliginosa) which despite its name is very drought tolerant.

Another favorite little tree is our native form of Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) which has a beautiful vase shape and gives shade to its surroundings. I don't pick the berries, but leave them for the birds or let neighbors pick them.

My goal is to have more of those trees (Elderberry, Agnus, Western Redbud) in my garden since they cool down the area and are just good for the environment. By now I'm getting more and more of those "woodland" parts in the garden. I was able to plant native Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) as well as Pacific Bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa, which goes dormant in the summer) and so far they have been doing well. I also love to see grasses like this Oriental Fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale) gently sway in the wind.

My tomatoes have been doing very well and I already harvested a good amount. This is "Sungold", a very sweet and delicious cherry tomato. I usually eat it right from the bush, but I also put it into salads. The native grape "Roger's Red" (Vitis californica) has developed into nice little grapes and I suspect veraison will happen pretty soon. That is always very exciting for me (don't ask me why).

In my eyes a California dry garden is not complete with one or two varieties of native Buckwheat. This is such an easy plant - after it got established in the ground you can forget it. It's not fuzzy about the soil, it doesn't want additional water, but it's happy if the flowers are cut back sometime in late autumn. It's popular with pollinators and I often see butterflies sitting on the tiny flowers. Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens) on the left and St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum) on the right.

The tour through my July garden is coming to its end - I think we need something to drink. That's also required in order to join Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T Tuesday where we all get drunk ... uh, show our drinks. Weißbier (also called Hefeweizen) is the perfect beer for summer. We were very happy to discover this Bavarian one at Costco, even though we would have prefered glass bottles. I guess we can't have everything. Anyway - Prost! Cheers! Santé! Sláinte! Salud! L'chaim! Ganbei!

I will take a break from blogging for a few weeks. I'm not quite sure when I will be back, but I expect to be here again sometime in September. I wish all of you sunny and happy summer days (or the arrival of spring if you're on the "other" side) and see you in the fall.


Mae Travels said...

Your garden looks beautiful -- you must have quite a lot of space to be able to cultivate so many different types of flowers.
Have a good month off of blogging.
best, mae at

Kate Yetter said...

What a beautiful garden, Carola! I too have deer that determine what I can plant. It is quite annoying to see something ready to bloom and then the next time you look, the bud is chewed off.
I had a lot of cherry tomatoes as well and they didn't even make it to salads. I snack on them while cooking because they sit on my counter.
Happy Tea Day,

My name is Erika. said...

What a lovely garden Carola. The flowers are beautiful. ANd it's fun to see your cherry tomatoes (aren't they the yummiest?) and little grapes. I have a concord grape plant and I usually get enough to make a few jars of jelly. But I totally get why you get excited about having grapes because I do too. I'm not sure why, but it's kind of magical. And the beer looks quite refreshing. Have a great T day and week ahead. hugs-Erika

Amila said...

It's incredible how the Japanese Maple has thrived since you bought it. Nature's transformations are truly amazing. Your garden is truly stunning and I enjoyed looking at all these photos. Thanks for the share, Happy T day!

Iris Flavia said...

Sehr schöner Garten. Hier war... nichts, nada. Schön deinen zu sehen - Prost und bis Herbst (haha... den haben wir seit Wochen).

DUTA said...

L'chaim! You definitely deserve the impressive glass of beer, after the grand tour in your July rich, beautiful garden!

Elephant's Child said...

How I would love to wander through your garden, sniffing, stroking and just generally admiring it.
Enjoy your break. You will be missed and we will glad to see you return.

roentare said...

All the flowers are dazzling!

Lisca said...

Thank you for taking me for a stroll in your garden. I love seeing all your flowers. Also it's a good indication of what might grow here too as California has a similar climate than here. I think here we are a bit more deserty and have colder winters, but on the whole, what grows in your garden should grow in mine (with due care).
See you in the autumn. Have a lovely summer!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I absolutely adore your gardens, Carola. I don't have deer, but I have squirrels, raccoons, and possums that want to chew on my herbs.

I am in awe of your lavender. Mine is dying back already. I also planted an entire packet of Echinacea and NONE came up. I was saddened by it.

Nice segway to the Hefeweizen beer. It looks very refreshing. I'm going to miss you, dear Carola. I'm so glad you were here when I opened your gorgeous gifts. Thanks for sharing your amazing gardens, the lovely plants and flowers, and your beer with us for T this Tuesday.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

These pictures simply prove, Carola, that a garden is a joy, and a repository of great beauty whatever the season and during the myriad changes in the life of a plant. That pesky deer knows where to come for juicy treats! Enjoy your time away. I will look forward eagerly to your return. Big hugs - David

nwilliams6 said...

Have fun on your break, Carola!!! Can't wait to see what you find and do while you are recharging. Love your garden pictures - makes me want to plant more things. Wonderful looking beer - cheers! Happy T-day and extra hugz

Valerie-Jael said...

I just wrote a comment, almost finished, and it went! Anyway - love your beautiful garden. Paulaner is a wonderful drink, nothing better in summer. Thanks for our comments on my blog, you are right about needing a break and not carrying on with things that are too much. I wish you a happy summer, enjoy the time, andI look forward to seeing you in the autumn! Hugs, Valerie

Valerie-Jael said...

I very muc h enjoyed seeing your beautiful garden, it looks like a lot of work to keep it that way! Thanks for your comments on my blog - as you say, too much is too much and sometimes a break is necessary. Have a good time, hugs, Valerie

DVArtist said...

All I can say is WOW!!!! What a beautiful, beautiful garden. I am so jealous. LOL Every photo shows how wonderful your garden is. Thank you for sharing it. Have a nice day today.

Sharon Madson said...

Your tomatoes look good. I was just reading about Echinacea, because I recently bought some Bigelow Lemon Echinacea tea and didn't know what it was. Apparently, it is an herb and is good for a lot of things among which is inflammation. And I didn't know that it was a cone flower, and that they are considered a wildflower. Then, I see you mentioning it on your blog. I had never heard of Echinacea until today! Anyhoo... Happy T Day. :)

pearshapedcrafting said...

Your garden looks beautiful- I can't imagine what it must be like to have deer in your garden. Have a lovely Summer break. Happy T Day, Chrisx

Jeanie said...

Have a terrific break, Carola. And well done on your gorgeous garden. I'd never heard of a dry garden before -- that sounds good. So mnay wonderful bloom and well done with the poppies -- one of my favorites!

CJ Kennedy said...

Your garden looks very lush and beautiful. You've created a welcoming and safe haven for the wildlife. Happy T Day

Veronica Lee said...

You have a lovely garden, Carola.
The flowers are gorgeous.

Enjoy your break - you are missed already!
Hugs and blessings

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely photographs of your garden.

Enjoy your blogging break.
See you in the fall.

All the best Jan

Rostrose said...

Liebe Carola, mir geht es mit meinem Garten auch so, dass er erstens im Hochsommer nicht so viel zu bieten hat wie im Mai und Juni oder im September (wobei deine Gartenfotos sehr schön aussehen!) und zweitens, dass hier manche Pflanzen nicht so gedeihen wie in anderen Gärten - und umgekehrt. Übrigens trifft das leider auch auf Buchweizen zu, den ich im Frühjahr großzügig auf meinem "Blühhügel" ausgesät habe - er konnte sich hier absolut nicht durchsetzen - sehr, sehr schade! Dafür wächst die Walzenwolfsmilch wie blöd.
Rehe mag ich ja gern - aber in meinem Garten möchte ich sie doch lieber nicht zu Gast haben.
Kirschtomaten sind mir die liebsten, hier habe ich auch schon eine schöne Ernte gehabt und noch eine weitere zu erwarten. Vorgestern hat meine Tochter einiges davon mit nach Hause genommen - und auch von unseren selbstgezogenen Kartoffeln.
Hab eine gute Blogpause!
Alles Liebe aus Österreich und schönes Wochenende

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks for this garden tour, Carola, and you do have some lovely blooms and the tomatoes looked delicious too. The beer you selected, Hefeweizen, is one of my favorites as well even though I am not a beer connoisseur. Enjoy your blog break and will look forward to seeing you in September after we return from our trip to Amalfi.

waldlaeufer68 Frank Scholtyssek said...

Hallo Carola
schön das du meinen Blog gefunden hast, auch freue ich mich über deine Kommentare ..ja die Rehe sind wundervolle Tiere wenn sie früh morgens sehr nah vor einem stehen und mit den Knopfaugen einen beobachten, tolle Momente .Dein Fächerahorn ist wunderschön wir haben auch so einen im Garten und es immer eine Freude ihn anzuschauen. Ich schaue mal wieder bei dir vorbei,ist ja sehr entspannt für mich da kann ich in Deutsch schreiben ;-))
Grüsse aus Deutschland