Wild Things…
Midsummer Madness
By Karen Vizzi
    Midsummer madness reigns supreme in the wild garden now. The party is in full swing with flowers flirting, birds competing for attention and space, and butterflies and bees providing daily music and dance. Everyone is dressed in their finest and it is truly a spectacle. 
     I am amazed by my wild garden in July because its beauty is certainly not the result of careful design or planning. In fact, very little attention has been consciously paid to how plants will look next to each other. The placement of plants in my garden is based primarily on animal or insect habitat value and cultural requirements. However I must admit, I am often surprised by happy accidents of plant combinations…a grouping of plants that creates a visually stunning display. Mostly it is the color of the blooms that go so well together, but often it is the combination of leaf color and texture as well.
     Here are some from this year’s garden …
  • 1) Deep purple Siberian iris, the bright lime green of Lady’s Mantle (alchemilla mollis) and magenta spiderwort (tradescantia) – an early blooming combination that looks wonderful in the ground and also in a vase.
  • 2) The burgundy leaves of purple perilla (an herb) as a background for bright orange butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) and pale purple phlox – this combination reminds me of a spectacular sunset.
  • 3) Pale blue borage flowers (herb) and scarlet nasturtiums – a sunny combination that is enhanced by ever-present bumble bees.
     I guess you could say that this visual display provides habitat value for the two-legged critters (the human kind) that visit my garden, too. A walk through the wild garden is truly food for the soul. 
    Bird Brainers: Did you ever notice the greater intensity of bird song at dawn? The reason is not known for certain, but one theory suggests that males are singing to let females know they have survived the night (from predators and such) and are alive and ready for mating.
    Butterfly Bullets: The monarchs have finally returned to my garden! The common milkweed (food plant for monarch caterpillars) is in bloom and the fragrance is intoxicating.
    Plant Pointers: Potted plants dry out very quickly in the heat of summer. They will most likely need daily watering, as well as additional fertilizer.

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