If I were to sum up the current state of the front garden in 2 words, they would be: Bee Balm. Bee Balm, Bee Balm, Bee Balm. Specifically, Monarda didyma ‘Raspberry Wine’.

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The Bee Balm is so visually dominant in part because so many other attention-grabbing plants are blooming late.

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Right now is this year’s peak for our Clematis ‘Jackmanii’. It covers most of the west-facing brick wall at the front corner of the house, which I like to call “The Great Wall of Purple”, though it is either white or green for most of the year.

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My So-Called Meadow

There is a part of the back garden where grass did not grow well, or at all. So I came up with the bright idea of turning it into what I called a “pocket meadow” consisting primarily of Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pennsylvanica). My thought was that it would look like this, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

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What I Did About the Japanese Yew

You may recall a couple of posts during the spring where I talked about how I was removing a large Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) from the southwest corner of the Back Garden, right next to the gate that opens up to the alley.

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One of our new Red Osier Dogwood flowering back in May.

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Yesterday we saw what the Front Garden had on offer at the beginning of July. Today we head to the shady back garden, under the dappled shade of Silver Maples and other mature trees.

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All of a sudden, it’s hot out and feels like summer. But the garden is still clothed in the blues and whites of late spring, especially out front. The reds, yellows, and oranges (but especially yellows) of summer are gathering force, not yet ready to bust out. They are delayed in part because of the cold spring, in part because some plants were cut back hard.

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Trying Something New

I’m trying something new this year: Bush’s Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe bushii). This is a close relative of Wine Cups (C. involucrata), in fact it used to be considered a variety of that species. My understanding is that Wine Cups will spread out more expansively.

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Bush’s Poppy Mallow settling into the Driveway Border. 

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A single Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) goes a long way. It’s a big plant – ours grows about 5 feet tall with a 4 foot spread. It’s a perennial but looks more like a small shrub. But if you have the space in a spot that’s moist and shady, this plant has a lot to offer. It makes a frothy splash in June, after most woodland flowers are just a memory.

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A Near-Death Experience for Caladiums

Back in May I was congratulating myself for doing such a good job on growing 20 Caladiums from corms (which are like bulbs except that they’re different) on the back porch. You know how expensive it is to buy Caladiums in pots at the garden center? I forget exactly, but it’s expensive, especially if you want 20 of them.

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Caladiums growing indoors on a heat mat before moving outside.

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The Lurie Garden: After the River

The River of Salvia is an annual high point for Chicago’s Lurie Garden. This year, though, by the time I was able to visit the river had started to dry up, with most of the Salvias no longer in bloom. But even after the river peaked, there was plenty of excitement at the Lurie Garden when I visited today.

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