Friday, July 15, 2011

Midsummer's Luxurious Lushness

Peering from under the Scarlet Curls Willow in the Perennial Garden across to the Bold Border one certainly gets a sense that the gardens are at midsummer's peak of lushness! The flaming red daylilies are 'Lusty Leland', the bold grasses you will see below...

The Bold Border has spectacular tall Variegated Reeds (Arundo donax 'Variegata' with the yellowish variegation and 'Shanghai' with the real white variegation above). This is the "true" reed whose stem is sliced to make reeds for wind instruments like the clarinet. The bold bluish foliage is from the Giant Black-eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia maxima).

The Wisterias over the Perennial Garden's lakeside arbor are also lush with lovely cool blue encore flowers to enrich the scene -- depicted is mainly the Wisteria sinensis cultivar 'Texas Purple' which is a reliable rebloomer.

Lord Baltimore Hardy Hibiscus or Rose Mallow (Hibiscus hybrid) is again lord over all our red-flowering cultivars in the Perennial Garden. This plant is now 20 years old and finally shows it will need dividing next spring. Never divide a hardy hibiscus in the fall as they grow best (and re-establish) in hot weather. Yes these big perennials are hybrids of American native rose mallows and are closely related to tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and hardy Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).

Disco Belle White Hardy Hibiscus remains our best white in the Perennial Garden with abundant bloom on a compact plant. The red "eye" to each flower adds a nice contrast too.

Pink Clouds Hardy Hibiscus is again the best pink-flowering Hibiscus in the Perennial Garden with full form and abundant real pink flowers. This one was hybridized in Nebraska and is extremely hardy.

The Island Garden's pools are starting to really bloom with waterlilies in an array of colors from white to yellow, peach, vibrant fuchsia, pinks, blue and near violet.

The Water Cannas ('Erebus' in salmon and 'Ra' in yellow) are at peak of bloom in the Island Garden pools and have more bluish-green leaves than typical cannas.

The Yellow or Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is a native prairie wildflower that is blooming vibrant golden yellow now in our prairie plantings and remnants around the gardens.

Some of our trees have put on lots of new growth this year: this is a new and rare Winged-Hackberry tree (Pteroceltis tartarinowii) growing by the old Visitor Center. This new plant has had a slow go at establishing but is unique from China/Mongolia and related to our elms and hackberries.

The Rose-of-Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) are in peak bloom and this one is the Plant of Merit 'Diana' with pure white blooms that stay open at night. Diana is Goddess of the Moon so this is a perfect name for this plant which deserves to be in every moon, evening or white garden. Celebrate it tonight as it is the full moon! One garden friendly feature of Diana Rose-of-Sharon is that is one of only a few seedless varieties so doesn't self-sow all around the garden.

Plan your visit now to see the midsummer lushness of Powell Gardens. Despite the predicted heat the gardens will be irrigated and hopefully flourish through the heat wave. The Perennial Garden certainly is at its peak now and is celebrating its 20th birthday.