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Iris, Catmint and Sage in Gold and Violet - West Garden in June

Posted Jul 05 2011 12:44pm

The west flagstone bed, which earned its own post in the spring here , put on a pretty show in June.

Golden yellow iris contrasted well with 'May Night' Salvia (sage) and 'Walker's Low' Nepeta (catmint) in shades of violet. In the photo above, you can see short spots of warm purple color where Aubrieta 'Axcent Purple' put out yet another flush of bloom after a haircut. This Aubrieta started blooming in March - what an impressively long bloom season!

Bees of many types have been happily buzzing around the sage and catmint. There are eight catmints and twelve sages along the path. The repetition and massing of the sages (the catmints are big enough on their own, but I planted the sage in four groups of three) look good to my eyes. Imagine that, those design principles actually work! My kids have been taught to stay out of the bees' way but not to be afraid of them. We all enjoy watching them work.

Unfortunately, some of the iris - like 'Tumalo Sunset' above - leaned away from the wall toward the sun when they started blooming.

I have decided to remove the leaners and keep the ones that can stay upright despite the lopsided light conditions. Above is upright 'Pure as Gold' (though I'm not entirely sure the label is correct, since there is a flush of purple at the base of the flower so it's not 'pure' gold). After the changes, there will be three clumps of this iris scattered along the path.

I'm also going to switch around the violet iris. These 'Royal Amethyst' iris will fit better with the backyard color scheme, so away they'll go.

Instead, I'm going to divide up these 'Evening Tidings' iris to make three clumps along the path. I usually prefer flowers that are all one color, but I like the way the two colors on these blooms tie together the shades of violet and lavender of the sage and catmint.

Of course, I don't know if 'Evening Tidings' will become a leaner when planted right next to the wall. If it flops over next year, I might have to do more adjusting. But that's OK, as I have no qualms about transplanting.

To add some pink to the color mix, I transplanted little divisions of Armeria maritima (thrift or sea pink) to the edges of the flagstones. Their small size prevents them from making a huge impact, but the added color is nice when you notice it.

By now the sage plants are done with their first flush, so yesterday I paid my son a quarter to cut them back. Soon the catmint will be read for haircuts, too. Because they only get afternoon sun, they won't bloom as heavily through the season as plants in full sun. But both sage and catmint should put out some color in the months ahead.

Next the asiatic lilies will start blooming in this bed - 'Royal Sunset', 'Fangio', and an unnamed rosy-orange dwarf lily. Newly planted 'Jethro Tull' coreopsis is already flowering since it had a head start at a greenhouse this spring, and 'Early Sunrise' coreopsis has buds ready to open. There are a few roses open on the climbing 'Crown Princess Margareta' roses, with buds on 'Teasing Georgia' and 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. Unfortunately the roses were cut back so far by the harsh winter that the small plants aren't making a huge impact this season. 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies are flowering, and later 'Apricot Sparkles', 'Smoky Mountain Autumn' and 'Hush Little Baby' daylilies will join in. I'll post another update in a month or two.
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