August is a Garden Color Free for all

August can turn into a colorless month if you don't plan ahead. Most of my perennials have petered out. Sure, some are gearing up for another round in mid-September, but I'm not holding my breath for more Monarda or an additional flush of Liatris.



To help ease away from the raggedy remnants of once perky blooms, I've tucked Zinnias I started from seed among the bee balm. I've scattered among them a few spiky-flowered plants like Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious', Salvia 'Mystic Spires' Blue, and Salvia 'Black and Blue'.

Salvia 'Mystic Spires' with waning bee balm.
Meanwhile, in the new cutting bed, the larkspur is flagging, but the Ageratum and 'Blue Monday' clary sage I grew from seed are still giving off that great blue aura that makes warm colors pop.

It's hard for a garden to have too much blue, especially when that garden is host to lots of brightly-colored Zinnias.


My goal is to always have color and more color around the corner. In my back garden, that means I'm looking forward to asters and Dahlias. One Aster has been in bloom already for a couple of weeks. It's called 'Tiny Tot' and it's true to its name.

And then there are the Dahlias, one of which is already blooming, but the flowers are held within the plant's foliage, so I'm waiting to see how it will do once I pick those little guys for a tiny vase.

'Dahlia 'Little Beeswings' on the plant.
Dahlia 'Little Beeswings' in a tiny vase.
I couldn't resist the name or the cuteness of the flower. 'Little Beeswings' is an old variety. Introduced in 1909, it's also hard to find. Luckily I located it at Old House Gardens, a company that specializes in heirloom flowers.
The other two Dahlias are not blooming yet, but that just gives me something else to look forward to in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, on the shady side of the garden, things are still rotating through their bloom and growth cycles. I absolutely love the Bergenia ciliata, which I suppose you could call a "squeakless pigsqueak." You see, this Bergenia has tiny hairs, which is a departure from Bergenia cordifolia, a species with thick leaves you can make squeaky noises with. (Hence the name.) I like this plant because its leaves are so big and healthy-looking during a time when most of my plants are chewed up by some sort of bug or another.

It took a long time to become established, but Cyclamen purpurascens looks like it finally has taken hold. One thing that intrigued me about this particular Cyclamen was its origin in eastern Europe where my ancestors originated. According to the Cyclamen Society, it doesn't mind a little lime and is at home among tree roots and leaf litter. Although I planted two tubers in the spring of 2012, only this one survived, and appears and disappears seemingly at random, the flowers first and then the leaves. It obviously is happy beneath the boxwoods in heavy shade. I've cleared out the area surrounding it as it spreads, removing sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) from around it.