Now Comes High Summer
In our garden high summer comes in a very literal way, with the first blooms of some very tall plants. My favorite among these are the Cup Plants (Silphium perfoliatum), which grows eight to ten feet tall.
Their height gives Cup Plant a certain majesty combined with a gangly, awkward beauty. They are the Abraham Lincoln of August prairie flowers.
They also combine wonderfully with other August blooms, for example this patch of Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).
This Wild Bergamot is growing in the Driveway Border, and bloomed later than the plants of the same species in the Sidewalk Border – and has far less powdery mildew. I wonder why.
The Cup Plant is growing in the Front Island Bed, where it is joined by Sweet Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum), another flower that puts the height in high summer.
The blooms of Sweet Joe Pye Weed create domes of dusty pink. You can also see Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and Monarda ‘Purple Rooster’ flowering in the Front Island Bed. ‘Purple Rooster’ is straining to be seen, I really should have planted it in front of the milkweed. The Swamp Milkweed blooms outlast the Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), which has begun shifting from flowers to seed pods.
Going back to the Driveway Border, we can find another of my favorite August flowers – Yellow or Grey Headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata). These yellow ray flowers are just starting to poke out from around the central disks.
Yellow Coneflower makes a pleasing combination with Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). Mexican Sunflower has been blooming for a good month or so, but as it blooms its stature and presence grows – until it literally starts coming apart. Staking will delay but not prevent this from happening.
Here’s a long view of the Driveway Border. As late summer perennials take center stage, the earlier summer blooms are fading. You can’t tell from this picture, but the ‘Conca d’Or’ lilies are turning brown and soon they will be gone. The petals of Clematis ‘Jackmanii Superba’ are falling fast, making purple splashes far and wide.
The bumblebees find the nectar of the last Butterflyweed flowers exceedingly sweet, even as they also partake of newly available blooms. And so the garden shifts with the seasons, like a parade with new colorful cohorts stepping forward as others retire to the rear.
What are your favorite August flowers?