Refreshing Little Lime Hydrangea

First bloom of 'Little Lime' Hydrangea. June 28, 2012.
What's the most refreshing bloom color on a 100°+ summer day?  My vote goes to the huge, cool snowballs of 'Little Lime'™ hardy hydrangea from Proven Winners®. 

I know! I know! I'm obsessed with refreshing lime and refreshed light green garden benches to cool down my garden!

Garden Benches Refreshed

Many, many years ago at a property that I no longer own, a neighboring farmer teased me when I was painting my old, weathered barn. He said "A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint will make it look like what it ain't."

It was true that the old barn had warped boards and a rusty metal roof. It needed more help than a coat of paint. Fortunately, my metal garden benches were showing only a bit of rust and faded color—easily remedied by a good scrubbing and a coat of fresh paint. After seven years in the garden, I was ready to use some color.

I bought the spray paint, Valspar® Satin Leafy Rise, as my color of choice. It's a pale green that looks so much cooler than the dark bronze of the cottage garden bench or the black of the gravel garden bench. I also painted a rusty metal plant stand and a pot.

Meadow Flowers Shine in Late Evening

The last rays of the sun shine on the willow at the end of lower path.
There is order to the path edging plants, but there are"wild" flower
pairings mixed in the rest of the deer resistant meadow garden.
1. Around 8:00 pm on a June evening in the deer resistant meadow garden.
When the summer sun heats up and the temperatures rise, the best time to walk through the garden is late evening.  The light is soft and the true colors are easier to capture with the camera.

1. The purple spikes of meadow blazing star (liatris ligulistylis) are backlit by gold/yellow black-eyed susans (rudbeckia hirta). White shasta daisies (leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska') truly shine in the low light of the fading sun. Wisps of feather grass (stipa) provide a backdrop for the tufted blooms of deep raspberry bee balm (monarda 'Raspberry Wine').

Garden View from Street and Above

Left of house is west and driveway with entry gravel garden.
 Right is east with the red/white and orange/yellow flowers.
Front is south-facing with 2 acres of open meadow grass.
There is no garden in the back (north) as our woods (2.5 acres) come up to the back deck.

Paved driveway (west) ends in the gravel entry garden.

The gravel entry garden is the first thing a visitor sees when arriving. There is sufficient space for a car to park in front of the bench. In a few years, the dwarf Burford 'nana' hollies will create a hedge to separate the gravel garden from our concrete parking area for our garage. A large oakleaf holly and a crepe myrtle flank the bench area. A row of rosemary lines the opposite side of the gravel parking space

A Staggering Japanese Iris Vignette

Iris ensata. June 2012

Although I always dread the fall chore of digging up big clumps of Japanese iris every three years, I must admit that doing so opens the opportunity to try different vignettes.

The purple Japanese iris (tag long gone and so it is unknown) is a great bloomer. With my last division of this iris, I planted it graduated—or staggered—up a slope rather than on the same level.  My logic was that each clump grows quickly and by planting each divided piece up the slope instead of grouped on the same level, I could hopefully extend the number of years before needing to divide again.

The Red and White Garden

OVERVIEW: Red and white garden, straight ahead, left.
Orange and yellow garden on the near left by a new path cut-through.
Green shrubbery (osmanthus fragrans and hollies) on the right.  June 2012
The "red" in my "red and white garden" is delivered through monarda 'Jacob Cline' along with a mass planting of bright red salvia greggii, crocosmia 'Lucifer'. The red salvia blooms first, followed by the monarda, then the crocosmia.

The white daisies are planted uphill and for now, provide most of the "white" in this garden. Note: A yellow-blooming St. John's Wort shrub (left of the bench) provides the axis between the "red and white garden" and the "orange and yellow garden." The yellow centers of the daisies tie in with the yellow blooms of the shrub.

Native Wildflower Ratibida Columnifera Repels Deer?

Ratibida columnifera
(Mexican hat, upright prairie coneflower, thimbleflower) with
Santolina pinnata (green Lavender cotton) in the background. June 2012

Debuting in my deer resistant meadow garden this year is the US native wildflower, ratibida columnifera, commonly called Mexican hat. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database, the foliage of this native has a strong smell that repels deer. But wait—there's a catch! The same database says that deer will eat this flower. Hmm...

Currently growing beside my open meadow where the deer congregate each night for slumber parties, there's nary a nibble so far. I've not detected an offensive smell—but I'm not a deer!

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