A summer walk through the garden

August 3, 2022

Let’s take a walk through the garden “while the dew is still on the roses,” but here in our Irvington Garden the old hymn would ring out “while the dew is still on the daylilies.” One of the first daylilies to notice is the deep gold double bloom of “Condilla” — Grooms 1977. The plant is covered with flowers which glow at dusk. No wonder “Condilla” has won five different awards over time in the daylily world!

There goes the hyacinth bean (Lablab purpeus) starting to climb all four legs of the green ladder trellis. This fast-growing vine has pinkish-purple flowers with purple seed pods and is still grown at Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia.

Passing by the big rock garden it’s easy to spot some big bullies in the garden — mint, chameleon plant and gooseneck loosestrife which have pushed their way over the more polite plants such as hostas and daylilies. One daylily bloom was seen peeking over the top of the mint, barely visible.

As for the mint, there are many varieties such as lemon and even chocolate; just add a few leaves to a refreshing glass of tea, or as a garnish on a dessert plate.

Chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata) has beautiful heart-shaped leaves in shades of green with a touch of pink, and a small white flower in the spring. The leaves are edible, and some say they have a fishy-citrus flavor.

Speaking of bullies in the garden, ditch daylilies rank right up there with the best of them. Ditch daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) have a pretty orange bloom blended to dark orange with white or light-yellow markings on each petal. They grow tall and proud and don’t need any care. But be sure and watch them, because they are tough to dig out and remove with their long roots.

The garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) start to bloom in late June and are about 4’ tall with lavender purple flowers. There is a weed that resembles this phlox and it’s hard to tell which is which until the phlox blooms. Then when one realizes the other plant is a weed, pull it out quickly and hope nobody noticed. Garden phlox prefer full sun (six hours). Hybridizers have perfected several cultivars, one being “David” which has a gorgeous pure white flower.

Other daylilies are “Saber Tooth Tiger” (Gossard 2005) fringed edges of the petals are called “teeth;” “Primal Scream” (Hanson 1994) a Stout Medal winner in 2003; “Ashwood Summer Sunshine” (Norris 2007) rose-pink blended with yellow orange; and many, many more.

Our friend, Lucy, volunteered at the Missouri Botanical Garden in the Archives office at the back of the gardens. She would leave her home at 4:30 a.m., drive some 90 miles to St. Louis, then enjoy a bite of breakfast. “The dew was still on the roses” as she walked, all alone, through the gardens, and would pretend that “it was my garden.”

It’s always good to walk through the garden, even if there may only be a rose bush, a few coneflowers or Grandma’s pink peony. Just keeping an eye on the plants could prevent an invasion of insects, mildew or disease. But, as our friend, Ernie, used to say, “Enjoy!”

Questions may be answered by contacting a Master Gardener or calling the University of Illinois Extension office in your county.

Pictured above are Condilla Daylilies.

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