Cape May Garden Journal July 2017

Cape May, NJ – I wander through the backyard, bursting with flowers and wonder: is this really our garden? Where are all of those little scraggly seedlings that never looked like much, except to me?

Our perennials have grown up. This is the summer they’re paying me back big time for years of hard labor.

The Culver’s Root – both the purple Fascination and the white species -  have turned into sizeable clumps. They look like the belles of the ball, dancing in the wind.

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The white Wild Quinine was slow to establish at first but has spread in its own stealthy way.  It’s sharing a space with the purple Verbena Bonariensis, but it looks like the quinine is trying to evict its neighbor.

I figured the pink Stachys for goners this year. Our garden is just too dry for these guys. But they’re back and better than ever. Who knew. Nice to see them again.

They’re called Pink Cotton Candy Stachys – from the wonderful Chicago Botanical Gardens.  No wonder they’re so tough.

A couple of surprises this year.

Some yellow hollyhocks that disappeared from the garden have returned after years of absence.  No explanation. They just showed up again.

The hollyhocks came from our gardening friend Karen Williams, who got them from the late Cape May gardener Marion Glaspey. Interestingly, Karen says the hollyhocks reappeared in her garden this year as well.

In another odd garden moment, a plant we were captivated by on our trip to Victoria, Canada and subsequently planted in our garden has never bloomed in five years. Every spring I would watch and wait, thinking this will be the year. This year, I gave up.

The perennial,  Spiny Bears Breeches, has an impeccable sense of timing. For the first time, a flower emerged.  It’s been that kind of year.

July would not be the same without Garden Partner’s two favorites – pink Queen of the Meadow and red Jacob Kline bee balm, both almost dead after last year’s drought. But they’re survivors. They’re both looking good and fighting for the coveted spot beneath the downspout.

Or my favorite -the Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangeas, now towering 15 feet or more, their blossoms turning from white to pink as the heat starts up.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that they were small enough for me to to cart home from Cape Island Gardens in the back of the pick up truck?

Then there’s the clump of seemingly ordinary yellow daylilies, expanding every year.

I was kneeling in the garden years ago and looked up to see our late friend Larry Wilson grinning as he rounded the corner with his surprise gift – an armful of daylilies. That armful has grown steadily over the years.  And every June and July,  when the flowers start to bloom, I can still see Larry’s smile.

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About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.