Weekend Notes: Heat, Containers, and a Stone Path Update

‘Westerland’

Thanks for the rain, but could you turn up the AC? Friday we finally got a decent amount of rain, and I’m giving the soaker hoses a rest. However, it’s brutally hot and humid, and temperatures are supposed to stay in the 90s all week. I try to take a lot of breaks and drink a lot of water while gardening, and I’ll try to do more earlier in the morning and later in the day.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) with Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine in background.

 Containers Full of Summer Annuals. So I’ve chosen the summer annuals, and now it’s just a question of watering and watching how they do. The containers in the front are mostly hot colors: red, orange, and yellow; with some blue and white for counterpoint. In the shadier back, the colors are cooler: mostly shades of white and blue. Most of the pansies ended up on the compost pile, but I’ve kept some of them and will cut them back later in the summer.

Containers newly planted with Summer annuals.
  • Vertical plants: Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias currasavica), Star Flower (Penta lanceolata), Zonal Geranium (Pelargonium hortorum), Zinnias (Zinnia ‘Zahara’), Canna Lilies. Actually, we’ll see how vertical the pentas and geranium end up. They’re really more mounding than vertical, but they should be taller than all their neighbors.
  • Filler plants: Red and Orange Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus), Lantana, Petunias, Million Bells (Calibrachoa) , Ageratum (Ageratum hustonianum).
  • Trailing plants: Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) , Blue Lobelia (Lobelia erinus), Bacopa (Sutera cordata), Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum). The Sweet Alyssum was planted in mid-Spring. Though it tends to stop blooming in very hot weather, I’m going to keep it through the Summer and cut it back in August. I love the scent, and when you crowd it against the edge of the container it spills nicely over the side. It will rebloom in the Fall.

Stone Path Update. Since resetting the stone path, I’ve been trying to establish plants to take over the spaces between the stepping stones. This has been made more challenging by the intense heat, which is magnified by the stones. Here’s a report card for the plants I’ve tried.

Stone path with thyme.
  • Nutmeg Thyme (Thymus praecox). Grade: D-.  I found an eight pack of this thyme at Home Depot for about $10. Such a deal! Planted in the sunny part of the path, only two remain alive. The others were quickly fried by the heat.
  • Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Grade: A. I replaced most of the dead Nutmeg Thyme with Garden Thyme. More expensive in individual pots, but they shrugged off the heat. While this thyme grows taller than ideal for planting between flagstones, I find I can cut it with my push mower.
Stepping stones with Schotch Moss and shadows.
  • Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’). Grade: A. This plant has settled in without any fatalities. It already seems to be spreading and even blooming a little. 
  • Irish Moss (Sagina subulata ‘Irish Moss’). Grade: A-. This has been slightly less successful than the Scotch Moss, one of the plants looks almost dead. Also seems more mounded, less spreading, and not quite as low-growing as the Scotch Moss.

    Daylily ‘Eye-yi-yi’ with butterflyweed.

8 Comments on “Weekend Notes: Heat, Containers, and a Stone Path Update

  1. Love the containers – you definitely have an eye for color. My pots rarely turn out how I envision them – this year, the colors were okay but not the heights. At least with gardening, there is always opportunity for a do-over. Thanks for the report on flagstone plantings, too – useful comparison.

  2. Thanks. I can already see that I may have miscalculated on heights. The Star Flower and Zinnias are supposed to be taller than the Orange Cosmos bu so far that is not the case.

  3. I particularly like the final combination. Have never seen ‘Eye-yi-yi” before but it goes really well with the butterfly weed. Great photos!

  4. Like Karen, I’m enamored of the daylily butterflyweed combination.
    I hope you’re managing the heat; looking at the weather map tonight, I was very grateful to be in one of the two cool spots (the 2 northern corners of the country).

  5. Karen and Jean – thank you both, I also like the daylily/butterflyweed combination. Actually, I like butterflyweed with most things, I’m very fond of orange.

  6. Have you tried Chamomile for in between the stones? It’s not as useful as thyme but the smell (when rubbed or crush) is very sweet.

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