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The Buttonbush ( Cephalanthus occidentalis) is an unusual shrub with curious white pincushion flowers. It is found in the wild all over the United States, usually in swamps and moist areas.  Growing up in rural Alabama, I remember seeing it in the woods behind our house.  It doesn't garner much attention until the blooms make their appearance.  Sources vary on the size of the plant. In the wild, it can get to 20 feet but in gardens, most likely under 12 ft. In my garden, it is about 4 feet tall after five years in the ground. It is located along the back fence in an area that doesn't get much supplemental water although I am working on the area and watering more often this year. The flowers have a slight honey-like fragrance. Bees love this plant! Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Looking Good in August

African Daisy (Osteospermum), Fan Flower (Scaevola) and
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea)

It is the most miserable time of year and last week was a doozy. We had a record number of days with temperatures over 90. 

As I write this, however, the windows are open and a cool breeze is coming through the house. It is about 70 degrees, much more to my liking. This will be short-lived as another 3-day stretch of hot weather is coming up this weekend.

Gladiolus 'Olympic Flame' in a pot. These were a very pleasant surprise!

Agapanthus 'Purple Potion' - This is the first time I've
gotten agapanthus to bloom. 

One of my favorite plants - African Boxwood (Myrsine A. 'Scarlet Marglin').
 It grows in a pot on the deck in full shade. 

A heat-lover that I love is the Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus).
 The bees love it too.

Another plant that probably prefers it warm is this
 Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora 'Coral Glow')

Clematis 'Comtesse de Bouchaud' - Most of the clematis are
on the wane but this one starts later.

Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata 'Bristol Fairy')

Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis) - I haven't grown this since the Alabama days. There it was aggresive so I was apprehensive about it. I'm keeping my eye on it.

The lilies are doing nicely - most are in pots.
This one is 'Roselily Natalia'.

'Stargazer' still one of the best

I would never have guessed that pansies would be flourishing in August!

And for matter, snapdragons too!

Painted Tongue (Salpiglossis sinuata)

Porcelain Vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata 'Elegans')

Jasminum officinale 'Fiona Sunrise'

I guess I'm a fan of redbuds. These are just two - 'Ruby Falls' peeking on the far left and 'Rising Sun' on the right. In the middle is Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa 'Jealousy').

'The Impressionist' - This poor rose has been moved three times. I have no idea why it is now pink - it is normally a coppery yellow. 

Michael pruning a rose and trying to save the clematis growing in it.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Your garden looks stupendous this August, especially given the recent heatwave. My Osteospermums mostly shut down flower production during the summer months (although, when I'm lucky, the plants themselves don't perish). My snapdragons are done and gone. The chaste tree I planted years ago from a tiny pot is still small and hasn't flowered but I haven't given up on it. Oddly, I haven't even seen flowers on my Hesperaloes this year - maybe too little water even for them :(

  2. The photo of Yucca 'Coral Glow' is looking very nice against the weeping cedar. It's not often that you shoot this angle of the garden. It looks to be a dark leaf Euphorbia in the back. Do you know which it is?

    1. Chavli, that is Euphorbia 'Blackbird'. This bed is along the elevated retaining wall next to the driveway (that goes downhill). It has been a challenge finding things that grow well there.


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