Mid July into August is when the cone flowers really start to shine. The Echinacea (Purple cone flowers) are the first, they're going quite strong now. If I find the time to get out there and cut off some of the older blooms, they'll send out new blooms all the way until the end of summer.
If you only have room for one kind of cone flower, this is the one I'd recommend. It brings flocks of bright yellow goldfinch to the garden, an amazing sight and sound!
The Liatris are revving up too now. According to many gardening books their nickname is "Kansas gay feather" but I rarely hear them actually called that around here. I don't know why I didn't take a photo of one in full bloom, guess it's something to do today.
My garden used to be filled with purple Liatris but one day I had a white one seed into the garden and now it's seeded all over.
Isn't it beautiful! The gold finch love the Liatris too, they cling sideways on the stalks and pick out the seeds (you have to let them turn brown and go to seed first). On a warm sunny afternoon you can go out and find Liatris stalks covered with fat happy bumblebees. That's another picture I'd like to get one day this week. Not today though since we are getting some needed rain.
Tall plants are so cool, I have quite a few different varieties in the garden. This is Rudbeckia maxima, it's at least 6' (2 meters) tall. Birds try to land on it for the seed and it's quite comical to see them suddenly bow down under the weight of a tiny bird.
Here's a corner of the bed behind my swimming pool. Right now it's a riot of color, just my kind of garden! You can see the Rudbeckia maxima in the top left corner. The grass that's just coming into bloom is Molina 'Skyracer', another excellent tall plant accent, quite different from any other grasses here.
The other day I was in the pool just on the other side of this bed. As I was swimming laps I realized that there were goldfinch in the bed just feet away from me. I felt like a submarine as I slowly cruised back and forth with just my head sticking out of the water.
At first I thought that I should get my camera and keep it perched on the pool edge but then I thought maybe that might not be a good idea.
Somehow I can just invision Calie the wonder-doodle-dog kicking that camera into the pool. She just goes wild when somebody is swimming, she begs for us to splash her and then tries to catch the water droplets in the air. What a crazy dog!