When my friend Linda told me her Formosa lillies (Lilium formosanum) survived last week’s big storm–I grabbed my little camera and rushed over the next afternoon.  These tall, fragrant white flowers  are not to be missed.  And Linda has a slew of them weaving in and out of her mixed bed of a front yard in Raliegh.  (Grass is too boring for her–so she has none)

The old Art-History major in me thinks they are the same flowers in the lovely Sargent painting–Carnation, Lily, Rose.  Linda started with 7 plants.  She now has dozens.  Her propagation method couldn’t be simpler–In the fall she collects the seed and sprinkles it around the yard.  (She also shares and gave me a handful last year)

I may have gone to see the lilies–but I was also very taken with her giant Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis).  Another stunning August bloomer–it is also fragrant, makes a great cut flower, and attracts butterflies by the flock. 

Plant envy.  Chinese Abelia goes on my fall must-have list.

The butterfly magnet in my yard right now is Clethra alnifolia, or Sweet Pepper Bush.   Another fragrant shrub that saves its best for August, this hardy shrub languished my garden until I found in some moisture and a little morning sun.  After I planted it at the base of on of the drainage/runoff pipes, it lived up to its potential and became a star. 

All three of these plants have great things going for them–fragrance, blooms, butterflies–

And they’re at their best at the toughest time of our year–August.  That makes them stars in my book.

Final thoughts about Linda’s garden:

Linda’s passion is spreading the word about healthy, fugal eating (check her out at www.cookforgood.com ) and we counted no less than 15 edible plants growing on suburban third of an acre.  It’s a good inventory to make when you’re strolling your yard sometime.  How much can you grow for the table?

Some plants in her garden bloom and flourish despite never making it into the ground.  Shows us how important it is to pick the right spot…then tough plants (like these camellias) and fend for themselves.

And don’t forget the mantra about visiting other gardens and talking to other gardeners–you will learn a ton.