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Friday, 31 August 2012

August flowers

It's been a dry month, often very hot and a fair amount of wind too. This has taken its toll on the flowering side of the garden, as more of my gardening time has been spent watering to keep it looking alive rather than tidying up. Consequently I have in places rather an overgrown jungle - there isn't the time (or quite frankly in the heat, the energy) to be chopping back, deadheading, weeding etc. Also the veg garden is taking up my time with harvesting and sowing more crops so the ornamental side gets left, although I have been finding the time to do a bit more of a big tidy up during the last week with cooler days. Oh the joy of being able to work out in the sun in the afternoon without dying of heat!

At the beginning of the month the coneflowers looked good, now they are faded but the perovskia is still looking colourful and quite fresh.

Gatekeeper butterfly (Pyronia tithonus) enjoying the Coneflower nectar,
with Perovskia behind

Bronze fennel was at its best earlier in the month and surprisingly attracting many honey bees - when I say surprisingly - as I've not grown this before and it is closely related to dill I wasn't expecting this, as dill doesn't seem to attract bees. My brother was here staying with us at this time and we were wondering what fennel honey would taste like! A bit aniseedy and odd, we thought.

Bronze Fennel covered in honey bees

The plants above are located in this bed at the front of the house which has full sun from morning until early evening, consequently it dries out very quickly and needs drought resistant plants in it. I still have to water as few so-called drought resistant plants are tough enough to withstand the dryness here without showing signs of suffering. Even wild thyme goes yellow and frazzles here without added moisture!

I call this my butterfly bed as there are many herbs
and other flowers here attracting them,
such as the large lavender in the foreground

My large lavenders have continued to flower and attract butterflies, moths and bees throughout the month.

Female Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) on Lavender

Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria) on Lavender

We have a bed with hot coloured dahlias in, but they haven't been very spectacular this year and are tailing off a bit now. Maybe it's the weather, going from wet to dry and cool to hot. Who knows?

Dahlia, not sure which one!

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' started flowering earlier on in the month and looks quite stunning, but it's a hard plant to keep looking good as this and the coneflowers need so much water I really shouldn't have them in my dry garden at all - I feel they would be much better suited to a bog garden, for the amount of water they need! Consequently they are quick to droop and crisp up so the foliage never looks very good, only the flowers.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'

Sedums, on the other hand, are happy in my free draining soil and during this month the purple varieties flower and are loved by the bees.

Purple Sedum with Perovskia behind

Honey bees on purple Sedum

Another plant much visited by all sorts of pollinating insect is garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) which I grow more for the pretty flowers than for the edible leaves!

Garlic Chives, purple Sedum and Catmint in the background along by the veg patch fence

Various flies enjoying the Garlic Chives

I'm always a bit surprised when Japanese Anemone starts blooming in August because I think of it as an autumn flower. It grew enormous this year for the first time due to the rain earlier on, but consquently it's fallen forwards and gone rather floppy!

Japanese Anemone

On the two sunny sides of the house where there is hard standing I have all my tubs and pots of pelargoniums and a few other tender perennials, which overwinter indoors.

A few of my unknown varieties of Pelargoniums in tubs along by the house wall;
the blue Plumbago was just starting to flower on the left

Nerium Oleander, unknown variety.
Smells beautifully of almonds but is poisonous
and has a nasty spike on the end of the leaves!

South west-ish side of the house which has full sun
from midday until late evening.

All month the star of the show continues to be Verbena bonariensis, attracting the most butterflies and daytime flying moths of any other flower in the garden! Here is a poor Swallowtail which has completely lost both hind wings - it was able to fly but was having problems balancing on the flower head to drink the nectar. This is only the second Swallowtail that I have seen this year, which is rather sad, as usually they are quite common.

Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon) on Verbena bonariensis

Finally, this month the sunflowers around the edge of the veg patch have been a blaze of colour although one snapped off yesterday due to the wind. Never mind, I have a vase full of sunflowers on my dining table now and there are many more to come on that plant.

Multi-headed giant Sunflowers attracting bumble bees


  1. All looking gorgeous Mandy, our flowers are definitely past their best and looking very autumnal.

    1. Thanks very much Ladybug! There's plenty of hints of autumn here too but some of that I think is dryness as there are plenty of leaves dropping, but also being the end of August there are the normal pinky/orange/red tints on many of the leaves anyway. I find it a bit sad!

  2. I do too! All my lovely hanging baskets which have given me so much pleasure over our dreary summer are really starting to die back. If I'm honest they're past their best and should probably be taken down, but I'm squeezing the last bits of colour out of them!

    1. Do you have any geraniums (the pelargonium kind I mean)? They just go on and on so are good value for colour around the house even if everything else has gone over! Also deadheading helps prolong flowering but the problem is finding the time.