July Is Bloomin’ Lovely

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis


Well what a month it’s been. It feels as though it hasn’t rained in weeks and weeks and yet when I look back to June we had raindrops on roses. That, I think, was the last time the garden saw any of the wet stuff. And then only a brief shower.

 I went out with the camera yesterday morning wondering what I would find. And whether there would be enough for a post at all. It would be wrong to call it a drought. Readers in Cape Town, California and Australia wouldn’t bat an eyelid over a month or so without rain. Nor our recent temperature ‘highs’ in the upper 20sC. The difficulty is we’re not used to it. Not least the gardener who has adapted to the more normal conditions of South West England by majoring on moisture loving plants. Morning tours of inspection have been thin on the ground in recent weeks. Along with the gardening mojo. First the rabbits. And then the weather. Both have taken their toll.


Lilium superbum


Lilium superbum

So what I found when I did venture out was something of a surprise.


Helenium 'Waltraut'


Helenium ‘Waltraut’

It’s been quite a while since this one featured here. Three years. I checked. Since then it has merely limped along: weak, slug nibbled, barely flowering at all. But it’s a sun lover. And what do we have right now? The other thing in its favour of course is that the molluscs are few and far between. Especially on a south facing hard baked hill. I shall enjoy it while it lasts.


Eryngium x zabelii 'Big Blue'


Eryngium x zabelii ‘Big Blue’

While heleniums do need some moisture, eryngium prefer it to be dry. So this is another bloom not seen in years. At least two years. It will take on a much deeper blue hue as it matures.


Abutilon 'Hinton Seedling'


Abutilon ‘Hinton Seedling’

And I thought I’d lost the abutilon. It took ages to show any sign of life after the cold, late Spring. One could still be forgiven for thinking it in repose, certainly without the benefit of a zoom lens, since flowers and leaves exist in clusters only at the highest reaches of each stem. Otherwise its long legs are entirely bare. Next Spring I had better move it to a more open spot.


Erigeron karvinskianus


Erigeron karvinskianus flowing off the edge of a wall, picking up the colour of a backlit Phormium ‘Pink Panther’


Lysimachia clethroides


Pointing the way..

Lysimachia clethroides


Penstemon 'Plum Jerkin'


Penstemon ‘Plum Jerkin’


Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander'


Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’

Another of this year’s success stories, divisions from an overly congested clump. Seen here with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’, it’s part of a new area of planting which may feature in a future post. As long as it works of course. As long as it works..


Agapanthus 'Zachary'


Agapanthus ‘Zachary’

I’m going through a yellow phase. It started with a T-shirt, bought in a sale earlier in the year and then left in the drawer. Pulling it on for the first time last week something clicked. I’ve just ordered two more yellow T shirts. And a scarf. And a blue shirt to go with the yellow. The mood seems to have spread to the garden too. I remember saying when I first acquired the yellow grass Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ that it was difficult to place. How little did I know. It goes with everything..


Agapanthus 'Indigo Dreams'


Agapanthus ‘Indigo Dreams’

..but it goes especially well with agapanthus.


Allium sphaerocephalon


Allium sphaerocephalon

Digitalis ferruginea 'Gigantea'

Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’

I could have started out yesterday morning with the intention to include an insect in every shot. I didn’t. But it wouldn’t have been hard. The garden is positively buzzing.


Dipsacus fullonum


Dipsacus fullonum

I don’t think I’ve ever seen teasel in bloom before. Even if it does just highlight the sorry state the vegetable garden has become. Self seeded from somewhere I shall now leave it over winter for the goldfinches to enjoy.


Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet'


Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’


Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination'


Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’

And this is an intriguing one. Apparently the name is a play on fasciation, which affects this cultivar particularly. Mine is no exception.




Another novelty. My colour shifting hydrangea is even bluer this year.

It started life on the terraces where it was bright pink. In an effort to render the primary view from the house easier on the eye it got booted off to the woodland, where the soil is clearly more acid. Interesting that the young blooms still emerge as pink. Almost as though it is mirroring its recent evolutionary past.


Crocosmia 'Lucifer'


Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Maybe the mojo hasn’t gone AWOL after all.


Verbena bonariensis


Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you will find a host of seasonal bloomers from around the world.


2018-08-22T09:20:21+00:00July 15th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. janesmudgeegarden July 15, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Fabulous photos, Jessica. It’s amazing the plants that can cope with dry and heat and some plants just keep on giving, don’t they?

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      It is amazing. Also that they manage to sit out the conditions which are less than perfect and then burst into life when things improve.

  2. derrickjknight July 15, 2018 at 11:10 am - Reply

    More wonderful photography of the rewards of your labour. Do you now have some idea of what bunnies don’t like ?

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I’m getting there Derrick. I was contemplating publishing a list of ‘Those Left Standing’ on the basis that if a plant can survive the challenges of chez rusty duck it is bombproof anywhere.

  3. Heyjude July 15, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Wonderful plants – your garden is a joy to visit. It is interesting to see which plants are enjoying the sun and warmth. Like you I have veered towards moisture loving plants and some of those are wilting a bit under the heat, but a honeysuckle is in full flower this year, the crocosmia has more flowers than ever and my herbs are loving it! And yes, I agree with you, this is not a drought. Yet.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      Yet. Indeed.
      I spent two hours watering shrubs beyond the reach of the irrigation system yesterday evening. By rights it should have rained bucket loads today. It didn’t. That worries me more than anything else..

  4. Lea's Menagerie July 15, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Beautiful blooms, and I love seeing all the bees and butterflies, too!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lea. It’s a wonderful year for pollinators. Long may it continue.

  5. vonniet July 15, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Incredible pictures – what an amazing garden and house!

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:43 pm - Reply


  6. FlowerAlley July 15, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Everything looks good there. I like seeing your little friends in the photos. We have had several setbacks here also. Mama deer ate about 90% of my daylily blooms and 100% of my hosta leaves. Some sweet daylilies are actually putting out some new buds. We also had a pond disaster that broke my heart. My next post is about going to get replacement the Koi. That’s just the start of the list.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      I don’t like the sound of the pond disaster..
      A family of deer appear to have moved in here. We now see them several times a day. They are a mixed blessing for sure. But oh, the baby.. so very cute.

  7. FlowerAlley July 15, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    P.S. The bunnies are fine.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      I’m glad to hear it!

  8. Beth @ PlantPostings July 15, 2018 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I’m so sorry about the lack of rain. That can make it hard on plants that aren’t designed for, or used to, drought. We’ve been tropical in the Midwest U.S. (at least my location), with highs in the 30sC and plentiful rain. It’s been a hot summer for us, but the rain is saving the plants. Your garden always looks incredible; I’m going to click back through and look at all your photos. 🙂

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      It’s the unpredictability of the climate that is so difficult. Every year is different which makes it hard to plan and select the plants that have the best chance.

  9. plantbirdwoman July 15, 2018 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Beautiful summer flowers. And what butterfly is that with the Lysimachia? It is gorgeous.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      I am not a butterfly expert by any means but I believe it is a peacock.

  10. Your blooms are all so gorgeous despite the lack of rain and your photography is breathtaking. You have captured every single element beautifully. I think my favorite (even though hard to choose) is the Agapanthus ‘Indigo Dreams’ and bee in flight!

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      That agapanthus is a bee magnet! Thanks Lee.

  11. Kris P July 16, 2018 at 12:15 am - Reply

    Each and every one of your featured blooms is beautiful, Jessica, and I loved the insect shots. That Agapanthus ‘Indigo Dreams’ is a gorgeous color (not that I can justify adding more Agapanthus to my garden). I understand your reaction to the dry, warm conditions in your area. While our summer conditions have always been more extreme than yours, the combination of a truly pathetic winter rainy season followed by off-the-charts heat still feels like a slap in the face to my efforts to build a drought tolerant garden. After our recent nuclear heatwave seared so much of my garden, I considered skipping a Bloom Day post altogether (which I’ve not done since I first started blogging 5 and a half years ago) – the gap between what I saw in my garden in early July before the heatwave and afterwards was so great, I couldn’t conceive that there was much worth photographing. The new blooms on the Leptospermum in the front garden are what drew me out as it’s blooming well this year and I thought it deserved notice, even if I posted nothing else. Frankly, I was surprised at just how many flower photos I was able to collect, but then I always am.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      The value of Bloom Day posts is that they motivate us to go out in the garden and look. I too am always surprised by what I can find. We may have very different climates but the transient nature of the garden is universal I think. That’s what makes it such a challenge and therefore so addictive.

  12. annamadeit July 16, 2018 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Ooh – those lilies!!! Wow! Love the Abutilon as well, and so many other things including the Hakonechloa. That Agapanthus/grass combo is spectacular!!
    I had a Teasel in my garden a few years ago. It was a big aphid year, but lo and behold – ALL the aphids (and their guardian ants) were on the Teasel. I had no trouble with aphids on anything else! learned that year that Teasels are phenomenal aphid magnets, so good for you! I’d be cautious about letting it go to seed, though…

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      They grow so fast, I would fear for my garden if I had more than one! I shall also be out at first light tomorrow checking the teasel for aphids.. 🙂

  13. Peter Herpst July 16, 2018 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Excellent images with all of your happy and pretty insects. Lots of gorgeous blooms in you garden and I’ll certainly join the chorus of voices praising the Hakonechloa/Agapanthus combination; it’s glorious.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      It was of course a complete chance occurrence. I could never be clever enough to put together a combination so delightful.

  14. Mary July 16, 2018 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Wonderful photos, as usual. Intriguing that some plants you thought were lost were merely waiting for a heat wave to show their faces…while the rest are simply waiting for some rain.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      It does intrigue me how plants have the ability to return from the dead. Or at least the almost dead. All those many years of evolution have given them a level of patience and tolerance I can only dream of.

  15. Rebecca July 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Wonderful plants! Eryngium is one of my favorites. Sorry about the weather where you are. Hopefully it will improve soon.

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      There are raindrops on tomorrow’s weather forecast. Whether they actually appear is another matter altogether!

  16. Pauline July 17, 2018 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Fantastic photos as usual Jessica. It’s amazing what is surviving the drought in our part of the world isn’t it. Some plants carry on regardless and others just give up the ghost as the first sign of heat. Did you get rain yesterday, we had just a tiny shower for 5 minutes, no use at all!

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Yes, a tiny shower here too. Another opportunity tomorrow I hope. But really, unless we get some serious rain all it is doing is encouraging the weeds.

  17. Susan Garrett July 17, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    You have some lovely plants. The difference is that countries that have regular hot, dry conditions tend to have irrigation systems whereas we have watering cans!

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      We do have partial irrigation. On a south facing hill I couldn’t manage without it. But it doesn’t cover all of the garden. And of course providing for the extremities means further to carry the cans!

  18. Arun Goyal July 17, 2018 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Lovely and unique assortment of flowering plants.
    Have a great week

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Arun. You too.

  19. Chris N July 17, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos!!! Here in California we don’t usually get rain till the fall. We water quite a bit. In the sierras though there are often thunderstorms and can be lovely. Our water bill last month was $167.00.:(

    • Jessica July 19, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Your water bill says it all. In California water is the new gold dust.
      In the UK we get thunderstorms too. It’s often said that summer here is ‘three hot days and a thunderstorm’. But not recently. It’s weird.

  20. Diana Studer July 19, 2018 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    A wonderful display in a garden which doesn’t expect a heat wave. And your fresh thatch makes a perfect frame to the garden.
    We have berg wind, hot, which is disconcerting and our July rain seems to have wandered off too far south.

    • Jessica July 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      I had to look that up… my mind was going down the route of wind from the south, off icebergs.. how could that be hot? But berg, mountain, makes much more sense!

  21. Brian Skeys July 20, 2018 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    So much that is flowering with you are also performing well here, ‘lucifer’ has never done so well here before. The problem is if we all plant drought tolerant plants we will have one of the wettest summers on record next year.

    • Jessica July 21, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      Exactly Brian. The climate has become just too unpredictable.

  22. snowbird July 22, 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Some delicious blooms here, especially Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’. Thank god for the lack of slugs, but I prefer them than no rain, everything in my garden is wilting, my soil has returned to sand, not a drop of moisture in it. xxx

    • Jessica July 23, 2018 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      It’s bad isn’t it. Even established shrubs here now. And I am having to stab at the weeds to get them out. It’s probably pointless. They will just resprout from all the roots left in the ground.. if it ever rains again!

  23. Carrie Gault July 24, 2018 at 10:26 am - Reply


    • Jessica July 25, 2018 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Carrie.

  24. susurrus July 25, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Fantastic pictures. I was going to mention the ones I liked best but the list got too long!

    • Jessica July 25, 2018 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      It’s been a hard summer for blooms, they’re going over far too quickly!

  25. offtheedgegardening July 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos, so rich and warm, wonderful!

    • Jessica July 25, 2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gill. We need to get into rain dancing. Seriously. Three hours watering tonight. The Met Office tease and tantalise with a raindrop on the chart. And then they take it away.

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