Summer flowers in urban garden

Summer flowers or summer blooms? Could I include a blooming cucumber plant in my “flower” list? What about blooming basil, thyme or mint? The mood, and objective, of our backyard has certainly shifted this year. I was aiming at creating working city garden for a while now, but this year gave me the final push. Halfway there model no longer worked. When spring turned into summer backyard turned chaotic, completely lacking any colorful annuals unless self sown, veggie producing container garden jungle. Here are some of my favorites, all grown from seed this year, most saved from last years plants. I am missing names on many of them. What started as an ambitious seed farm with neatly arranged labels, turned into planting frenzy one damp day in May. Just because the conditions were right! Names were misplaced, zinnias mixed up. I can name only two now – the purple brown yellow colored Aztec Sunset, that produces cascades of small, cheerful flowers and neatly drapes itself with its curly branches over the ceramic pot. The other is Queen Lime Orange, the name says it all. Regal, tall, and a chameleon of lime and orange hues currently peeking through cherry tomato plants. I have been careful not to deadhead any of them too early, after observing bumble bees talking their time luxuriating in the pollen of the mature booms. Bumble bees win, every time.

Spider plants, or cleome, have been with me for years. I always gather seeds, then forget to plan them, but nature still takes care of them for me. They overwinter in the soil and pop up when decide it’s warm enough. This year there are pink and some pure white ones. Always fun to watch tiny insects swarm them and slide on their “whiskers” like acrobats.

August brings sunflowers. This year I am growing Ruby Eclipse. We have a mini forest of them right outside the windows, gently bouncing in a wind. Occasionally, the bounce turns out to be not wind, but yellow finches, who take to them with gusto, as if they were woodpeckers. The sunflowers, as well as zinnias, make great cut flowers. Mine stayed fresh in a vase for almost two weeks. I tend to mix them with whatever I can find by the sidewalk, or whatever I prune out in the garden. Entire tomato branch in the arrangement? Why not?

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