September 03, 2018

Playing With Colors and Vases

pink just open

I'm new to growing Dahlias, and I'm pleased with final outcome. They're certainly dramatic and colorful, aren't they?

yellow opening

I was getting impatient because it seemed like it was taking forever for them to bloom. Now that they've shown their faces, I'm thrilled. I can't tell you what specific varieties I have, because they were labeled "decorative mixed." I'm growing them in pots, with plenty of stakes because they're tall and branching--I didn't want them to blow over in the wind.

The first two to bloom (a fuchsia and a medium yellow) seemed warm and deeply colored.


I thought they'd work as very colorful companions with the yellow and fuchsia of 'Zowie' Yellow Flame Zinnia. It's hard to see here, but Zowie has a fuchsia-colored ring near the center.


So I lined them up in bud vases and played around with the vases and the flowers. It worked until the Dahlias began to fade to pastel tones.

tithonia & zinnia

At that point, I clipped a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) as a companion for the warm Zowie.

yellow graceful

The yellow took its time opening, as if it was shy and afraid to show its face. I liked it in all its stages.

yellow still shy

I especially like it here, in the aqua vase, with just a "lock" of a petal draping over its "eye" or disc florets.

pink outside

The fuchsia faded to a bright, vibrant pink--equally at home out on the patio...

pink mellowing

Or in its little bud vase in the house. Do you see the lovely tinges of yellow at the bases of the petals. Dreamy, eh?

I don't know why it took me so long to grow Dahlias--I've enjoyed them as purchased or gifted cut flowers for years and years. All I know is that I will dig up these tubers after the growing season and plant them again next year. ... I'm in love.

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I'm linking this post to Cathy's In a Vase on Monday meme at Rambling in the Garden. My vases are very simple this time, but head on over to Cathy's blog to see creative cut-flower displays from around the world.

August 10, 2018

Plant of the Month: 'Summer Beauty' Alliums

SB with swallowtail 1

When I looked out the window the other day and saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on the blooming alliums, I knew what the plant of the month had to be. Fortunately, the butterfly stayed long enough for me to grab my camera and head outside for a few shots.

Something more exciting happened on this plant a couple of days later, but I'll cover that later in this post.

summer beauty 1

I added Allium tanguticum 'Summer Beauty' to the garden a few years ago. I ordered a few bulbs, and also Linda at Each Little World was kind enough to give me some when she divided hers. I planted them here and there in the garden, and while not all of them bloom every year, they find little spots of sun. I planted these beauties because, well...they're beauties, but also because they repel rabbits!

'Summer Beauty' is dramatic massed in a sunny border, but I don't have a choice--I have dappled sun in most of my garden, so that's the way it is. I noticed, however, that it's listed as tolerant of shade, which is true. This hybrid allium, like 'Millenium,' blooms in mid- through late summer, but it starts just a little earlier and the color is a little lighter--lavender-pink--where 'Millenium' is a brighter purple. They're great companions, though, as they bloom around the same time.

Here are a few details about 'Summer Beauty':

  • Height: 12"-18"
  • Spread: 18"-24"
  • Hardiness zones: 5 to 8
  • Attributes: Tolerant of drought, shade, and sun; seeds are sterile

SB with littles

Oh, and then there's the fact that it attracts pollinators of all types! It's fun to watch them climbing among the little flowers of the umbel bloom.

SB with RP 1

And here's the special joy that happened while I was photographing the flowers: The endangered rusty-patched bumblebee made an appearance!

SB with RP 2

I was thrilled to see this rare bumblebee in the garden: I must be doing something right to attract it! I hope to post more in the future about this special pollinator (the first bumblebee to be listed as endangered). Until then, You can read more about its special story here.

summer beauty 2

So, yes, I'd say 'Summer Beauty' Allium was a good addition to the garden! Do you have any summer-blooming alliums?

sb with swallowtail 2