Rain, rain. . .keep coming

We've been enjoying several days of rain - unusual for late July in Kansas, and much appreciated since it's kept us from having to water the trees we planted this winter. Yesterday, we sat out on the front porch for half an hour watching a gentle rain fall and listening to the natural "fountain" Ken made.

He found this great "holey" rock in his Grandpa's pasture in the Smoky Hills near Salina. He brought it home and sunk it in the ground just outside the front door under the downspout. (It's a HUGE rock - a sort of iceberg, since it's mostly underground.) Now, every time it rains, the water splashes from the downspout onto the rock, dances in and out of the holes and provides a great water show for free.

Coleus in a Strawberry Pot

I have loved Coleus ever since I saw it growing on a window sill in a friend's New York apartment three decades ago. This strawberry pot full of several varieties of Coleus started out looking pretty sparse, but now, at the end of July, the colorful leaves have almost buried the pot. Best of all, every so often I'll snap off a nice size cutting, let it root in water in the kitchen window, and I have the start of a whole new pot. I planted some little flowerpots with coleus starts last fall and brought them inside when the nights started getting cool. They provided nice spots of color in a sunny window all winter long. I should have taken them outside this spring though because they finally withered and faded. But not before I saved cuttings from those plants for my summer pots. It's a nice "vicious" circle. I did learn the hard way, though, that Coleus doesn't like the cold. Also, even though the plant does develop spikes of tiny lavender flowers, if I pinch the spikes off as soon as they appear, the plant gets bushier and does better.

The Coneflowers Show Up...Finally

It's July 15 - our two-year anniversary of moving into this house and beginning to plan the gardens. We've been waiting for the coneflowers that were in our wildflower mix to show up, since we've been seeing them in profusion in other gardens for several weeks now. We don't have many, but we're encouraged they are finally showing up. Hopefully there will be more next summer.

I Promised You a Rose Garden

A reader commented a few days ago that we were missing roses in our garden and I promised to share. Well, we don't have a lot, but we do have an arbor we're trying to train two rose bushes to climb. The rose on one side is a gorgeous peachy yellow color with a multi-layered bloom. I think it's some sort of floribunda variety. The rose on the other side of the arbor is a beautiful deep pink, but it sort of gets lost among the prairie rose bushes along the back of the garage.
We've been delighted with the Carefree Delight Roses, a prairie native we bought at a plant sale last spring at our local arboretum. These prairie roses bloom constantly spring through fall, never have to be deadheaded, and grow so fast we can almost watch them spread. So, there you have our offering of roses.

July Transitions. . .

I've been out of state for almost a week and came home to a changed garden! Before I left, we pulled out most of the Bachelor Buttons since they were pretty much spent. We also cut back quite a few of the Black-eyed Susans that were looking a little ratty. That left some empty spots, but now other things are springing up in their place - especially the prairie grasses.

Ken got some great photos of the grasses in bloom. Above is Sideoats Grama and at right is Switchgrass. As much as I like these grasses in the summer, they are even more beautiful in the autumn.

Our Favorite "Firecracker" this Fourth

Fameflower Rock Rose has become a favorite as it spreads and blooms in profusion in front of the boulder. The blossoms look so delicate waving above the frilly foliage on wiry stems, but they've proven to be hardy little flowers and we can enjoy the bright splashes of their magenta blooms even from as far away as the living room window. Prettier than any fireworks this 4th of July!