July in Chicago is typically hot and humid mixed with a few good storms – that’s how this July went down. The yard has been at the peak of it’s growing season blooming full of flowers in every corner. Let’s take a look back and check out what’s been growing in my midwest urban garden this July.
At the beginning of the month the greens of the Black Eyed Susans ‘Rudbeckia hirta’ were prominently overtaking their flower beds as they do every year. Many flower stems were budding and just beginning to peak open at the start of July.
By mid-July hundreds of the Black Eyed Susan flowers bloomed and they have been going strong ever since, even as I write this, a week into August. There are still plenty of these pretty yellow flowers to enjoy in the coming weeks.
I caught sight of this bright green grasshopper hanging out on the flower petals – such an intricate little creature. It’s amazing how many forms of life you can spot in just one small city backyard garden. Over the years we’ve had a lot of amazing insects come through, some that we’ve only seen once, others who show up more often – all are fun to meet.
These Black Eyed Susans fill the yard with bright yellow blooms for over a month. I believe they are the hardiest plant in the yard. As the flowers dry out each head drops a ton of tiny black seeds into the ground so they are sure to return again next year.
The Hosta flowers continued to bloom throughout July, just below is the tail end of the Bressingham Blue Hosta flowers. These flowers emerge from the largest Hosta in the yard, about 4-5 feet in diameter, (below) the flowers are as full as they get before they start to slowly drop their petals.
Another variety of Hosta in the yard bloomed a little later, it started to bud in the beginning of the month. There are so many types of Hostas, I haven’t quite figured out which one this is, but it is one of the most common in our garden. Their flowers create quite a show – these bell shaped Hosta flowers are an intense purple color with a white striped star like pattern in the center. Do you know which variety this is? So pretty!
While the heat of the sun has started to burn a lot of the Hosta leaves, these flowers didn’t seem too phased by it. Generally they would prefer a bit more shade, unfortunately our garden sits in full direct sun for most of the day – so when it’s in the 90’s for many days in a row, we definitely see some burnt leaves around the garden. Luckily outdoor plants seem to know how to survive the elements- they just carry on and do their thing.
We have several varieties of Sedum around the yard, the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ variety has been budding all month but we are still waiting for flowers. Usually these flowers mark the the beginning of the end of the gardening season. They bloom healthy and bright flowers as the rest of the yard seems to be winding down for the season. The Autumn Joy is the largest Sedum variety we have, there are about 8 scattered around the yard, each grown from cuttings of plants from my parents yard. I remember them being around since the beginning of my time- when I was a child I enjoyed inspecting the thick leaves and pulling them into layers. I love that these Sedum plants come from my first home and continue to grow in my life.
In the pathway leading to the front of the house there are a couple Stargazer Lily (Lilium ‘Stargazer’) flowers growing. They’re planted in an odd spot, so I have to be careful not to accidentally pull them up with the weeds. They come back every year and I love to anticipate their bloom – the buds begin forming at the beginning of June and they seem to take FOREVER before they finally open up. Stargazer Lily- it just sounds like it would be a fantastic flower and it is….
This year however, the blooms were not as spectacular and flawless as previous years. Still gorgeous, but something has been chomping on these guys all season, so they were a little more beat up than usual. But that’s just how it goes sometimes, they are totally beautiful just as they are. I have no idea how old they are, but I know these plants have been blooming for at least 7 years by my count!
Beyond the blooms we are starting to see some seeds forming. The Bloody Cranesbill Geraniums have been going to seed all month and if I don’t hurry, I might miss my opportunity to collect some and save. I would love to attempt to spout them from seed to share wth family and friends next year.
The peonies have also been working on some seeds. These seed pods are pretty large, probably the largest seeds I will attempt to save this year.
The Phlox started to appear at the end of June and have continued to blossom though July and in to August. Somehow we have 3 different colors blooming in every corner of the yard. They are definitely spreading like weeds, but that’s okay, they’re pretty and easy to remove as desired – we’ll keep ’em!
The last of Julys blooms are the Balloon Flowers ‘Platycodon grandiflorus’! Such beauty. They started to bud in June and have been opening up throughout July. I really love these flowers, their foliage is dense with pointy leaves that grow on the entire length of the stalks/stems. Their flowers form a pillowy balloon before opening their petals.
We’ll wrap up the tour of the garden in July, here is a picture of what the garden looked like in the beginning and the end of the July – what a difference a few weeks can make in a garden!
If you’d like to catch up on the previous months of this year’s backyard garden, check them out here: