Sunday, July 25, 2010

This we dream about?

The long dank winter here always finds me dreaming of sunny July days. Now that July is almost over, I'm longing for some cool weather, and so are many of the plants in my garden.

It's been such an extraordinary season on the Cape and elsewhere in New England; the unprecedented heat moved many late summer plants to flower in June, and I do wonder how the garden will look in August and September - usually the peak of bloom in my garden.

One of the stand-out plants for this kind of weather is Vitex agnus castus, commonly called Chastetree. Not hardy much north or inland from here, it's done well in all but one of the 20 or so years I've been growing it. The scent of the foliage is somewhat like eucalyptus, refreshing and not too strong. I have it planted near the house in an area with impeccable drainage, just behind my favorite hydranges, H. preziosa. The color combination varies as the season progresses, and is a little different each year as the plants react differently to vagaries of heat and moisture. The Hydrangea flowers start out white, as do the Vitex; the former then progresses through speckled pale pink to red and then to a dusky purple. The latter becomes pale blue, the color deepening as the flowers age.