The Bold Colors of our Summer Garden

Just a few years ago, this area was unwalkable. Overgrown with brambles and many invasive plants, my husband cleared this area and we created a new garden bed that sits between the main road that runs through our neighborhood and our wooded acerage. 

This south facing transition space lends itself well to pollinator plants. Many hardwood trees are host plants for lepidoptera [butterflies and moths] and these insects will need nectar plants once they make it to their adult stage (with the exception of some moths that don't eat as adults). 

In just a few years, the perennials have reseeded or spread creating a lush and full cottage garden look. My goal was to provide a riot of color from spring through fall with plants that support pollinators and birds. Another consideration was low maintenance plants because as we continue to expand our gardening space it means more work to keep the garden looking HOA presentable; especially since this is a highly visible area (everyone drives by here in and out of the neighborhood).  

This space also became an educational opportunity. My hope was to inspire neighbors, visitors and anyone driving by with plants that are showy, easy to grow and readily available at nurseries. Mostly native plants (straight species and cultivars) were planted with the exception of a few non-natives such as daylilies and gaura. Over the years of working with different organizations, I have found that including a few plants that are commonly found in landscapes or those that non-gardeners recognize helps people [HOA inforcers] feel more comfortable with the design.

Since June is pollinator month and this week specifically is national pollinator week as well as Wildlflower Wednesday, hosted by Clay and Limestone, I thought it would be a good time to share what is blooming here now. 

rudbeckia, echinecia purpurea, asclepias tuberosa, coreopsis spp., gaura

The purple yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is spreading beautifully and was a good choice to compliment surrounding plants such as tickseed, stokes aster and asclepias tuberosa. As it spreads it will aide in surpressing the weeds that have been plentiful and have required constant attention [pulling] not to reseed.

Achillea millefolium with Asclepias tuberosa

Achillea millefolium with coreopsis

Achillea millefolium with Stokesia laevis

The prickly pear cactus (Opuntia compressa) was given to me from a friend, where it was growing in the crack in her driveway. It is shallow rooted so it can grow in many situations. In this bed it likes our well drained, clay soil. I love that it requires little attentiom and provides a texture to the area plus the bees enjoy the flowers. 

These Hypericum shrubs started as seedlings from our original plant that was propagated at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gainesville years ago. Unfortunately, I lost the plant tag and don't remember the cultivar name.  The daylilies are transplants from another flower bed and original to our landscape. When the homestead verbena bloomed earlier in the season they looked fabulous with the yellow daylilies. 

A wide variety of bees are constantly visiting the Hypericum blooms, scurring around the stamens. On sunny days you can hear the bumble bees buzzing energetically. 

The loud yellows of Rudbeckia laciniata and fulgida. not only pair fabulously with the purples and pinks of other perennials but attract all manner of bees and once pollinated attract the goldfinches with their seed buffet. 

Phlox paniculata is another showy flower with bold color that is magnet for butterflies. 

As the growing season continues this bed will endlessly change. Grasses, asters, sunflowers and doll's eye daisy will be stars later on while penstemon, verbena, baptisia and virburnum looked fabulous in spring. My biggest hope for this space is to encourage people to support pollinators. Now more than ever we need to bring pollinators into our gardens. They are an integral part of the natural world, ensuring that plants continue to reproduce while feeding other animals like birds, amphibians and other mamals as insects are an important food source.  A balanced garden is a healthy garden that doesn't require [much] human intervention. If you are interested in a low maintenance garden that is beautiful through the seasons, ditch the manicured shrubs and monoculture of lawn and embrace the natural garden. 


  1. Beautiful and the combination of gold and blue is delightful.

  2. Love your landscape and photos! I know the pollinators do too!

    1. Thanks Penny! Hope you can come and appreciate it in person sometime soon!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Janet! Creating garden spaces in high traffic areas does take more consideration but I'm happy how it turned out and was able to tie into our landscape design.

  4. This inspiring and beautiful, Karin! You have made a wonderful pollinator habitat.

  5. Beautiful! We grow many of the same plants, though Stokesia does not do well for me. The summer color here is still about 2 weeks away.

  6. Lovely and informative blog post! We are also working on a pollinator garden in our front yard. I recently learned (this week) from a workshop on indigenous cultures in WI that pollinators are primarily interested in indigenous flowers and wont even visit a lot of the flashy annual varieties we plant in gardens. I put this theory into practice in my observations this week and noticed not one single pollinator of any kind visiting a petunia, but DOZENS of bees large and small on the spikes of our mullein plant. I love your photos too, you have a great eye for composition and grabbing a moment with a beautiful butterfly.


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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