Life After Peonies: Tah Rah Rah Bloom-A-Day Continues

While not “officially” over (at least a dozen plants still have more than one flower left), the extreme heat and lack of rain over the Memorial Day weekend certainly speeded the peony blooms up. The life of a peony flower has two main spoilers—heavy rain and sustained heat. Of course, during the most recent heat wave, we could have certainly used some rain. Instead, the heat served to push the peonies through their stages more quickly, leaving no plump bud unopened. If a heavy downpour had come in the midst of this heat, all of the opened buds would have been gracing the ground instead of standing perky and bright. So, as is the case with most things in life, timing is key. And so we’ll move on to the next flowers that have patiently waited for the divas to slip past their prime.

Waiting patiently in the wings on the north side of the house is Cornus kousa, a dogwood that can put up with more abuse than our native Cornus florida, which is prone to disease. According to an Ohio State University publication, this Japanese species is disease resistant and tolerant of alkaline soils.
Eremurus stenophyllus, or foxtail lily, is very easy to grow but can become overcrowded quickly in soil that is too fertile. At least that's what I've surmised from my experience with these tall stunners. The plants in the photo have just begun to show a bit of color and will reach their peak in a week or so depending on the weather. This grouping began with just two plants and it's tripled in three years. I'd planted a white variety in the same raised bed as some peonies, and they declined each year until they finally had no blooms at all.  I'd wanted them to flower with the peonies, but they've consistently bloomed after the peonies. No problem, though. These babies are taller than most anything else in the garden, so I'm thinking of planting a backdrop of clematis on the fence. 
The showy Clematis is 'Carnaby'; the white flowers belong
toClematis recta 'Purpurea'.
Speaking of Clematis, 'Carnaby' is slowing down but Clematis recta 'Purpurea' is giving it a fresh look and fragrance. This variety of Clematis can be trained to grow upward on a trellis or allowed to just hang out on the ground. One advantage to encouraging Clematis recta 'Purpurea' to grow upward is that it will bloom closer to your nose. It's one of the few species with a strong enough fragrance to notice.

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