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Perennial Favorites in August

August is not a month that I look forward to as far as working in my own garden and I don’t expect too much from the plants.  So, it’s a delightful surprise when despite the heat and many dry spells, a few perennials and a favorite tree put on a show. 

Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' with Cardoon in foreground

Let’s start with Magnolia macrophylla, the bigleaf magnolia.  I purchased this deciduous tree from Trees Atlanta at one of their annual tree sales in October about 4 years ago.

 (Look for upcoming details about this year’s sale on October 13th). 

Magnolia macrophylla seedpod and foliage in August

This tree gets better every year and I am fascinated by the fragrant flowers, the buds, huge leaves and showy seedpods.  It’s one of my top ten must have trees hardy from Zone 5 to 8.   I also don’t have an irrigation system and it’s done well with a minimum of supplemental watering. 

close-up of seed pod, Magnolia macrophylla

Perennial favorites in my garden now include Joe-pye weed, Eupatorium purpureum.  One of the reasons I grow this native is for its height, about  8’ tall.

Joe-pye weed, Silphium, Rosa 'Perle d' Or'

I know they have dwarf selections but for me, taller is better.  Growing next to  Joe-pye is Illicium parviflorum, a good doer for a broad leaf evergreen that helps form a screen and also provides a living trellis for  another native Silphium perfoliatum .  With the dry weather we had earlier this summer my Silphium,is bending and twisting instead of standing up straight.  It has been in bud for weeks and the flowers have finally opened.  I noticed that the species bloomed about a month earlier at the Atlanta Botanical Garden,  which is just a few miles from where I live.  Maybe it’s the fact that the plants at the Botanical Garden get regular water and mine have to make it on their own.  I’ve written about this intriguing plant before and the way the leaves encircle the square stems so that when it finally does rain, the water collects in the leaves.  My 11 year old daughter thinks this is great, and so do I. 

Silphium perfoliatum buds and foliage in early August

Silphium perfoliatum flowers August 17

Rosa ‘Perle d’Or’ is pumping out lots of flowers and looks great for August. 

I’m not sure about the yellow flowers of the Silphium so close to the pink rose but I’m more forgiving at this time of year.  Growing next to ‘Perle d’Or,’ Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ still looks good,  especially with Amsonia  foliage as a foil and a cardoon I planted this spring. 

I wish my ornamental grasses were more robust like the Panicums at ABG but maybe next year.  I also have a few clematis in bloom, two without labels and one favorite, Clematis ‘Arabella, that’s been growing in my garden for over five years. 

Silphium and Panicum at Atlanta Botanical Garden in July

The weather seems to be a little cooler but here in Atlanta, summer’s not over yet.   Although, before you know it,  fall will be here with its blooms and bounty.

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9 Responses to “Perennial Favorites in August”

  1. Pam Faltisek says:

    Love love love the pictures from your garden. I remember your garden tours when you were carrying your now 11 year old daughter. Time has flown but you remain, thankfully, loyal to your fans! We look forward to hearing more!

  2. Your post is wonderful, I can hear your voice as I read it! I miss you and Gardener’s Diary. As Pam said, please do continue to write for us.
    You are a huge inspiration to me and so many other gardeners. One day I hope to be able to be able to inspire others as well. Thank you!

  3. Erica says:

    Thanks Anne. It’s so nice when plants please us and demand so little!

  4. Erica says:

    Thank you Sandi. I feel fortunate to do what I do and glad to hear the positive feedback. Happy gardening!

  5. Rhetta G. says:

    I fancy that I know most of the perennials grown in Atlanta, but was unfamiliar with Silphium. Also enjoyed hearing about bigleaf magnolia. I’ve wanted one for quite a while, but haven’t gotten around to acquiring one. Maybe this fall. Thanks for your continuing posts. I loved your show on HGTV and enjoy the posts as well.

  6. Erica says:

    Thanks Rhetta. Lots of great garden plants and Magnolia macrophylla is a winner!

  7. Rosalyn Marie says:

    I miss seeing Erica on television. Is she still doing tv? If so, what channel. Her program was one of the few real gardening shows and was very educational.

  8. Susan says:

    I garden on a large scale with no irrigation either (basically only water from Mother Nature) and the tall Silphium fits in great. It’s a fav of the Goldfinches every year. And many birds drink the water from its “cups”.

  9. Erica says:

    thanks Karen for your kind words. Happy gardening. Fall in the south is my favorite season.

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