In the Mix – Late July Garden


When you look at a complex garden, and I have one,  you have to envision the plants as part-players in an orchestra. The musicians all have their part to play in color, texture, wildlife habitat, and seasonal bloom timing. While some plants push to the forefront, there will be those waiting in the pit ready to perform as the season progresses.


Sure you got the solo artists of the concert, but the important thing – it is a concert. All plants are impactful in their own way. The perennial standouts of each week differ with eye-catching flowers reaching above the rest, the blinding color in some instances are there only briefly. Why are they important? You can see them from a distance. They add a lot of life to the scene. Life visually, but also literally when wildlife visits – those that you have been seeing with my feature plant posts lately.


Other plants are fillers that pay homage to those around them. Quieter, looser, softer, airier, and more delicate, they champion the showy, colorful plants shouting for attention.

Some of the cast are spire-like, towering high above the others like an exclamation point as they bolt skyward. Veronica and sage in the mix.


Complex gardens sound so much better than mishmash gardens. Gardens of too much excess can get confused and jumbled. Often complex gardens do have excess, but again if well planned and contained, the color and texture keeps on coming with waves of interest. The floral splendor continues, the service to wildlife soldiers on.


Too bad the weather has been arid and parched, the brief rain the other day was but a token. Parched plants were fleeting, lasting a mere day, but boy did they play their hearts out. I have been really apathetic this year having to water so frequently even with all the drought resistant plants. I hope this is not what is in store from now on.

Uneasiness about this particular summer, plants feeding insects need rain to make nectar. Plants supporting insect development need water. It is most evident in natural spaces with meadows dry and blooms shriveled. In drought, it is the home gardens to the rescue, where we can monitor when plants are exhausted from the heat or on death’s door from drought. Above the moth caterpillar is found eating the cosmos in my tiny city garden, not a nature park or preserve. In It’s a Small World Out There, I showed the small Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the garden. Very tiny.

In a week, I am off again visiting gardens for a few weeks. Hopefully they are colorful… and upon my return, I hope to have a garden showing a new ensemble of perennial players. The Hibiscus, Pee-Gee Hydrangea and Perovskia are on the way.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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29 Responses to In the Mix – Late July Garden

  1. Love your analogy and will check out the swallowtail caterpillars soon. Such an entertainment or espectaculo en espanol. A real spectacle!

  2. Those are good points to keep in mind, and you expressed them so poetically!

  3. libbylottie says:

    Beautiful photos from your garden…always look forward to them.

  4. Nice analogy – someone has to play second fiddle! 🌺

  5. Christie says:

    How lovely to have such color in late July and going into August. Described beautifully.

    • Thank you. The color goes into November and December some years. I have had Iceberg Roses with snow atop. Even one year the geraniums where covered and kept blooming for two week longer. Neither plant is in the garden any longer, but I still do have some that weather well.

  6. Reblogged this on Happiness Cards and commented:
    Here’s some inspiration for all you gardeners and eye candy for everyone else.

  7. Happy travels and garden visits! It looks like you have a steady supply of beautiful bloomers throughout the growing season. Lovely.

    • Thank you, some exciting travel in a few months coming up. I always do have flowers from very early to when the snow flies. I have even had bees in days following a brief snow. It is why I post on the garden so often – to talk about why it is planted as such. It is why it is complex too. So many design directions in a tiny space. If the gardens were not organized within the boxwood in the garden, they might look a bit uncontrolled with all that color. The boxwood tone down any confusion of color and texture.

  8. I love how you describe the harmony of a well planned garden. Beautiful photos.

    • Thank you. Gardens have been compared to music for eons. The rhythm of the seasons, the flow of drifts, the repetition, it is endless how the comparisons can be made. Even staccato articulation, the abrupt disconnect is a design trick for ‘moments of silence’ in the garden.

  9. Your garden looks fabulous even if your weather has been dry. You are so right about the importance of the filler plants between the stars. What kind of Veronica and Sage do you use, and how tall are they? I want a tall blue plant for a couple of spots to balance the reds and oranges – I was thinking of Echinops.

  10. rose says:

    Your garden is such a lovely combination of colors and textures, Donna. It’s been dry here, too, the past few weeks; plants that can stand up to this lack of moisture are much appreciated this time of year. I spy a tall Veronica, I think, in your last photo–I’d be interested in knowing what cultivar this is, too.

  11. This garden is lovely. I love the different shape, some flowers are tall other short, and the mixed colours. It’s beautiful !

    • Thank you. It looks more natural when plants are not all arranged from short to tall. Many of the big gardens use this design direction. Since my garden is ‘enclosed’ by Buxus and Taxus, the bed has a less formal feel by having the floral mix within.

  12. bittster says:

    I love all the color. Your watering has paid off but I agree completely that nothing saps the energy out of the gardener more than drought. Hopefully while you’re away a few showers roll through… Yet miss your vacation spot!

  13. I love your comparison of a garden to an orchestra where every plant plays its part and all create the whole. That is the best type of garden.

    • Thank you. I agree about the best type of garden. Really the only way to design is having the parts equal the whole in a pleasing, functional or utilitarian manner. It was one of the first things learned in architecture. Parts make the whole, but don’t focus on the parts but the whole.

  14. Always a pleasure seeing your complex and colorful garden beds Donna.

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