I left our last garden update with the picture above. In the meantime, Chouchou brought home one more bag of bulbs – purple tulips and calla lilies, and I purchased a few summer bulbs/ tubers/corms to try – canna lily, dahlias, gladiolus, and liatris. I still had the begonias to plant, too, from our nursery haul. Oh well, we got caught up in the excitement of beautiful weather and looking for projects to do at home.
Since planting the azaleas, butterfly bushes, and phlox, we have found a home for about thirty daffodils, twenty-ish tulips, three hyacinths, four hydrangeas, three lilies, three calla lilies, and then the summer blooming bulb/tuber/corms which I bought on a whim.
Everything seems happy in the garden with the exception of the hydrangeas, which I am still struggling to find an answer why the top half of the flowers lost their coloring, and the leaves turned brown around the edges… We planted the hydrangeas behind the boulders below, with the gardenia, and planted three begonias in front of the boulders.
For the most part, we used the begonias in the beds, as spots of summer coloring. They were also useful as “markers” where we had planted river lilies and they have yet to sprout. I think those seeds may take longer to germinate (if they do at all – we’ve had them so long!), so having the begonias between them helps remind me where we planted them. They have formed rings around our corkscrew willows, and also provided highlights of summer color on mounds that otherwise don’t have summer color.
Begonias hold a special place in my heart, they are my favorite annual. I love the reds especially, and used them as “roses” when I was student teaching and we were reading Le Petit Prince. I briefly mentioned this “lesson” from the book in a book review of Little Prince board books.
I purchased a flat of begonias for my lesson, and before we read the chapter where the Prince discovers a garden of roses, and that his rose is not the only rose, I briefly acted out a preview. I had one begonia at the front of the room, on a barstool. The rest of the begonia flat was at the back of the room. I fawned over the one on the barstool, about how unique and beautiful and special it was. Then I walked to the back to begin the lesson and had a breakdown discovering that my “rose” was not so unique or special. The students enjoyed my quirky approach, and at the end of the lesson, I gave each of them a begonia to take home and plant.
Summer bulbs – gladiolus, liastra, and canna lilies
As we have been filling in the garden, we have some fall bloomers, spring bloomers, and some summer bloomers, but not many. I’ve expressed my enthusiasm for bulbs before, so when I learned there were summer blooming bulbs you can plant in spring and they will bloom the same year, I had to buy.
What I did not know at the time is that summer bulbs are not winter hardy like the spring bulbs (daffodils and tulips) we have. The only exception to this is the liastra we purchased – it is hardy in zones 2-9 – what a champ! So after each killing frost, for all of the other flowers, we will need to go out and dig up the bulbs to overwinter and replant them the following spring unless we want to make a new purchase of bulbs. Since bags range from five dollars to seven dollars and can include as many as 10 or as little as two bulbs, I think it’s worth the extra labor to save them. Plus, if they multiply like other bulbs tend to do, it will be worth it to dig them up, split them, and replant.
Gladioli are beautiful, long stemmed, and full of flowers. We decided to pair our gladioli in clusters of five in front of the milkweed and one of our daffodil patches. MC helped plant these and remarked that the bulbs resemble pumpkins. Ever observant, she is!
These flowers prefer full sun, are deer resistant, and bee friendly. Our variety will reach a height of 58-60 inches, which I learned is the reason why we had to plant these bulbs so deep in the ground- eight inches! According to Gardening Know How, it seems that we may be able to heavily mulch these bulbs for winter and they will do fine in our 6.5 USDA hardiness zone.
They suggest to sequence plant these, every two weeks, to have continuous blooms, but we didn’t buy enough this year. I am hoping that the bulbs will multiply, and next year we can do one sequential planting. Over time we should be able to build this up.
In researching the symbolism, I was surprised to see this is my birth month flower, August. It symbolizes strength, integrity…and infatuation and remembrance according to FTD.com.
I am super excited about the liatris mixture I purchased – it was one of the less expensive bags, had twelve corms, and is winter hardy. It’s deer resistant, attracts butterflies and is a tall flowerer, reaching heights up to three feet! Our mix includes white, creamy pink, and opal purple flowers and will bloom mid to late summer. I decided to pair a row of liatris and a row of purple tulips at our entrance to the garden to give some color there throughout spring and summer.
According to A to Z flowers, liatris symbolizes happiness, and joy – feelings that this butterfly garden gives us as we honor Millie’s memory. It can also represent a desire to try again – which is a profound feeling in our hearts right now, too.
I had never heard of Cannas – they are not actually lilies, just like Callas aren’t really lilies. The one bag that was left had two rhizomes of “Happy Emily.”
This name reminds me of our doctor, who is always bubbly and positive for us and has been with us through each of our pregnancies. We simply adore her, and so I thought it only fitting to add some flowers that would honor her.
These beauties flower late spring into fall and are deer resistant, bee friendly, and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
They are not winter hardy in our zone, so I will dig them up this year and hopefully they will have multiplied. Since there were only two rhizomes, I’d like to split them if possible for replanting next year. I planted these cannas in a bed filled with tête à tête daffodils (the daffodils with the dainty, petite yellow blooms). These should pair nicely, as the daffodil will flower early spring and canna should follow shortly behind with their flowers.
Over the years as the rhizomes are split, I hope to fill in the whole middle section of the flower bed and create an impressive show of summer cannas. According to The Spruce, cannas are an impressive and showy flower – even watching the leaves sprout and unfurl is a sight to see.
Calla lilies are associated with the Greek goddess, Hera, and I appreciated HGTV.com’s post as the most comprehensive explanation of the history and symbolism of this flower. They mention broken calla lilies as an image on tombstones symbolizing someone who died before their time. These flowers are a choice for Easter to symbolize rebirth, and also can express sympathy when in funeral arrangements.
The calla lily is not winter hardy, so we will need to dig up the rhizome in fall. However the beautiful flowers will last months, so we will be able to enjoy the blooms almost all summer long.
I decided to place the three callas opposite of the the azaleas, as I read they prefer partial shade in warmer climates. They seem to be very happy here and have perked up since being planted.
Chouchou brought home enough orange tulips to be split into twenty or so plantings, and enough purple tulips to be split into twelve plantings.
We’ve paired the purple with the liatris at the garden entrance and the oranges with the asclepias (butterfly weed) on one mound and with daffodils on another mound.
Although they are done flowering for the season, I imagine a colorful display for next spring.
FTD.com offers interesting stories and histories about the tulip as well as symbolism of the flower – deep or perfect love, especially for red tulips. I prefer BloomNation’s interpretation for the colors purple (rebirth, as well as nobility/royalty, which don’t really apply to us!), and orange (happiness, energy, enthusiasm, mutual connection).
We haven’t planted the dahlias yet, since I read it’s not recommended to plant right before rainstorms, and we’ve had some heavy rains this past week.
After the dahlias, we may purchase one plant for Millie’s birthday this year, but we are done adding for the summer. We want to enjoy (and learn to care for!) the plants and bulbs we’ve purchased, so future updates should include lots of blooms and lessons learned!
I also need to give my body a rest, as I can tell by my sore muscle and pinched neck that I probably pushed myself a little harder than I needed to. It’s a labor of love and I put my all into it, but I am welcoming the break to observe new blooms and developments in the garden. Stay tuned!
For previous garden updates, check out the links below: