Have you ever seen a goldfinch balance on the tip of a Liatris flower spike as it sways in the breeze? Or watched chickadees plucking seeds from the cones of your Echinacea blossoms? Birds enliven any garden with their colors, songs, and antics. They are also an essential part of the food chain. Planting an array of shrubs and vines, and perennials will ensure a steady supply of food and keep your feathered friends sheltered over the longest possible season. Highlighted here are some beautiful plants that will help to entice birds to your garden.
Lovely Coneflower ‘Fragrant Angel’ has large white blossoms with honey-colored centers that attract birds and other pollinators. For human admirers, it also offers a sweet perfume.
Regarded as one of the best ornamental shrubs for its late-season display of vividly colored berries, Beauty Berry ‘Early Amethyst’ shares many attributes of the species—a pleasant, rounded form, long, elliptical leaves, small pink flowers, and bright lavender berries. But this variety sets fruit in early September, well before other varieties.
We love this tough Ornamental Grass for its well-mannered, upright habit and thick blue-green blades. Use it as a vertical exclamation point in borders, or mass it to create a screen. You’ll love watching ground birds who seek cover in its leaves, and songbirds who come to feed on its seed.
Extra-large white flowers and compact size are outstanding features of this improved variety. The individual florets on Clethra Vanilla Spice® are about twice the usual size, blooming in 10–12″ bottlebrush-like panicles, which appear in summer. Their sweet fragrance attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. An excellent choice for the woodland garden or a mixed border.
Bring on the hummingbirds! Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’ produces a blanket of tubular, reddish orange flowers (coral shades on the West Coast) from late spring through summer. Later, the red berries attract goldfinches and robins. It’s a selection of our native species, Lonicera sempervirens, and plants are both carefree and noninvasive.
New lines of breeding have given our beloved Weigelas fresh garden glamour, offering repeat flowering without deadheading. Weigela Sonic Bloom® Pink covers itself with blossoms in late spring and follows up with repeated displays until frost. The dozen or so species of the genus Weigela are easy-to-grow, deciduous woodland shrubs from east Asia. Their showy flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and many Weigelas are worth growing in shrub borders or lightly shaded gardens for their foliage effects.
Red Chokeberry ‘Brilliantissima’ starts the season as an attractive but understated shrub with glossy leaves and small, fragrant white flowers. In fall, its foliage turns a spectacular scarlet red. It bears bright red berries that begin to take on color in September and persist well into winter, providing much-needed nourishment for birds at a time of year when food is scarce.
We have just come through a summer that was largely defined by irregular and extreme climate conditions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that, “Scorching temperatures broke heat records around the world last month [July], which ranked as the fourth warmest July on record. Excessive warmth during the first seven months of 2018 made it the fourth warmest year to date for the planet.” Here in New England, we endured record-setting heat, high humidity, and chronic downpours. Those of us who grew up in the Northeast remember hazy, hot and humid stretches that would last a few days and be followed by a thunderstorm that cleared the air. This year, thunderstorms came and went without refreshing the atmosphere, creating sauna-like conditions referred to by some meteorologists as a “heat dome.” Out West, the story was extreme heat, drought, and fire. According to NOAA, “Death Valley had the hottest month on record observed anywhere.” Other parts of the country and the world also baked.
Our suggestion? Approach your garden with a greater sense of purpose. If you’re unsettled by changes in our weather patterns, plant a tree and urge others to do the same. Leafy specimens are the best air-conditioners and air purifiers we know. The National Audubon Society recently noted that “one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, the equivalent of 11,000 miles of car emissions.”
Planting Natives & Lawn Replacements
Another way to combat uncomfortable heat levels and changes in climactic conditions is to help creatures great and small that are also being affected by it. Add native plants to your garden and yard to provide habitat and nourishment for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. In lieu of maintaining a manicured green lawn that often requires chemicals to keep it looking its best, eliminate or reduce the size of your lawn and create a native garden for pollinators. The beauty of these gardens is enhanced by its visitors, which include butterflies of many varieties, and birds. Come spring, we’ll be offering some exciting collections that will help you successfully convert some of your lawn area into a beautiful habitat garden. So begin thinking about where you’d like to site such a garden, and stay tuned for details.
Record heat around the globe has impacted the lifecycle of the bulbs we offer for fall planting. Higher temps have led to later harvest times in regions including Holland, England, British Columbia, and Japan. That means bulbs produced in these countries will arrive in the U.S. a bit later than usual. Rest assured these top-grade bulbs will be treated with the same consideration that’s required to keep them healthy and strong. They’ll be shipped overseas in temperature-controlled containers then stored here in our warehouse under ideal conditions before being shipped to you for fall planting. We don’t foresee any delays in getting bulbs to you. Order now, and incorporate some of these beautiful flowers in your spring garden.
At the farm this summer, the big news was the successful installation of our solar array, which means the farm’s offices and greenhouses are now powered by the sun. We’re pleased to have taken this important step in reducing our carbon footprint.
A New Rose Garden
The other big development at the farm this summer was the installation of a new Rose Garden on the site formerly occupied by our Shrub Border. The Rose Garden was designed with the assistance of noted landscape architect and designer Julie Moir Messervy and her talented team at JMMDS (Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio). Site prep began in July, and as of this writing, the garden is in its earliest stages. The bones have been laid out, with pathways delineated, plant groupings sketched in and in some cases planted. Even in skeletal stage, the garden is shaping up to be a most inviting and pleasing space. Several entrances and a winding path welcome visitors to stroll. The short walk will offer a chance to view a wide variety of Roses along with some superb companion plants. Planting of the garden will continue into autumn, and come spring, we’re all looking forward to its first season. We hope you’ll visit soon to have a look at the outline, then plan to return again in spring and summer to see how it progresses. There is no better way to see how new gardens are created and to borrow ideas for inspiration.
Moving the Garden Indoors
As the days grow darker at an earlier hour, and the temperatures (finally) begin to cool, those of us who love plants, greenery and flowers are looking for ways to bring the garden indoors for the winter. In our holiday catalog, which soon will be speeding its way to your door, you’ll find some stunning new houseplants along with new cachepots, baskets and plant stands that show them off to best advantage. (If you care for a sneak peak, many of these items are already on our website.) Our hard goods manager has been hard at work, and she’s rounded up some exciting new finds for indoor decorating – from botanically inspired dried wreaths in a wide array of styles and color themes to scented candles and sachets that carry the natural perfumes of Lavender and other garden favorites, to tiny plants that are ideally sized for table setting, and which make beguiling party favors for autumn and holiday feasts.
Planting in Fall for Next Season’s Display
We trust you and yours are looking forward to autumn and its many pleasant rituals. We’ll be spending as much time as we can in the garden, clearing out beds, adding new perennials and shrubs, planting bulbs, and creating the displays we wish to see next year. As you choose what to plant in your garden this fall, keep in mind that next season’s flower and foliage show is one you’ll likely share with family, friends and, depending how visible your house is to your neighbors, members of your community. Beautiful gardens do much to lift the spirits, bring beauty (and value) to your house and the neighborhood, and, as mentioned above, support pollinators and wildlife. Plant some lovely additions in your yard. It’s a terrific way to make the world a better place, one green oasis at a time.
With the first few nights of cool, crisp air arriving at last, it’s clear that autumn is on the way. As we begin preparing our gardens for winter, doing yard work and cleanup, it’s also a great time to refresh patio and front porch planters. The fall season comes alive when using colorful combinations to provide an extended display of vibrant blooms and richly textured foliage that will last right up until frost. Spruce up your outdoor spaces for fall festivities and harvest-time holidays including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pictured below are our new fall container plantings. You may order any of them through our website, or use them as inspiration to create your own fall container plantings.
Spikes of Ornamental Grass ‘Standing Ovation’ introduce a red tone that’s repeated in the foliage of Heucheras ‘Forever Purple’ and ‘Peach Flambe.’ Adding a sprinkle of gold are the yellow-and-green leaves of Euonymus ‘Aureomarginatus’ and the feathery evergreen foliage of False Cypress ‘Sungold.’
Purple Fountain Grass sends up a burst of burgundy foliage followed by a spray of flower spikes in late summer and autumn. It creates a breezy canopy over the single daisies of an Aster and the bronzy purple foliage of an Ajuga.
Anchored by evergreen Arborvitae ‘American Pillar,’ our handsome autumn collection features rich, beautifully textured shades of burgundy Heuchera, blue Juniper, variegated gold-and-green Boxwood, and rosy red Calluna.
The blue-green flower spikes of an Ornamental Grass stand tall just in time for an autumn show. Supporting the display are the silvery felted leaves of a Stachys, the frosted maroon leaves of a Heuchera, and the white flower spikes of a Calluna.
Set the stage for fall with our easy-care combination of 3 harmonious companions. Sure to draw the eye is False Cypress ‘Boulevard,’ with striking blue foliage that serves as a colorful backdrop for the richly hued leaves of Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe.’ Cascading from the pot is Ornamental Grass EverColor® ‘Eversheen,’ each green blade highlighted by a central yellow stripe.
As visitors stroll the display gardens at the farm, they often ask us about the plants they see in the borders and beds. No plants generate more questions than Alliums. Members of this genus are available in a broad range of colors – from various shades of purple to pink, true blue, yellow, and white, but the hallmark of this family of plants is a form that is both playful and utterly distinctive. Larger cultivars such as Alliums ‘Globemaster,’ form sizeable spheres (in this case 8-10” flower heads) that appear to float like balloons above other plants in the border. Smaller varieties including the delightful Drumstick Allium (Allium sphaerocephalon), produce lollipop-sized orbs on slender stems at a lower height.
Alliums are more commonly known as Flowering Onions, a pedestrian name unworthy of these remarkable plants.
It’s worth mentioning that Alliums, like Daffodils, are deer and rodent resistant, thanks to their faint oniony scent. The odor is not noticeable above the ground unless the leaves are cut or bruised, and many of the flowers have an enchanting, sweet scent. There are hundreds of species within this under-appreciated genus, and we annually struggle to restrain ourselves to a reasonable selection. They are reliable perennials when they get good drainage and plenty of sun.
Using Alliums in the Garden
Alliums offer colorful, distinctive, and long-lasting flower forms that are standouts in the early summer garden (there are some fall bloomers as well). They love sun and prefer a well-drained, even sandy, soil as long as it has sufficient nutrients. Tuck the bulbs around clumps of summer-flowering perennials where the Alliums’ withering foliage will be hidden by the expanding perennials. Some combinations we use at the nursery include Allium ‘Globemaster’ among Echinacea (Purple Coneflower); Allium sphaerocephalon (the Drumstick Allium) with Yarrow, Asiatic Lilies, or Phlox; and Allium cristophii (Star of Persia) with Salvia ‘May Night,’ Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), or Roses. We offer 5 varieties of the shorter Alliums (10–30″ tall) as A Big Mix of Little Alliums. They look best along the edge of a shrub border or planted in front of late-blooming perennials.
How to Care for Your Allium Bulbs
Light/Watering: Most Alliums grow best in full sun, with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Those we offer require well-drained soil and are longest lived in locations where the soil is on the dry side during summer dormancy.
Planting: Plant Alliums more shallowly than comparably sized bulbs, just one to two times the diameter of the bulb deep.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Alliums prefer well-drained, fertile soil. Fertilize in fall and spring with any bulb fertilizer.
Continuing Care: The leaf tips of many varieties, especially the tall ones, begin to brown before bloom time. Remove the spent flowers (except from varieties that are sterile, such as ‘Globemaster’) if you wish to prevent them from self-sowing.
Pests/Diseases: Alliums have few problems except when planted too shallowly or in wet soil.
Companions: Place Alliums behind heavy-foliage plants such as Peonies and Iris. Good for bedding, and in mixed borders. Flower heads are good for drying.
Dividing/Transplanting: Alliums rarely need transplanting or dividing, but this can be done when the bulbs are dormant.
Flamboyant blooms on stately, splendid plants grace the garden in June. Bearded Irises are available in a veritable rainbow of colors, from vibrant primaries, to subtle bicolors and gentle pastels. Breeders have introduced a variety of reblooming Irises, which have a tendency to flower again from late summer into fall depending on climate and growing conditions. Please note that Bearded Irises may not bloom the first year after planting.
Light/Watering: Full sun and well-drained soil are important for vigorous growth and flowering. Do not overwater, as too much moisture in the soil can cause the rhizomes (roots) to rot, but do water deeply during summer drought. Consistent watering is especially important for reblooming Irises.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Iris will not tolerate soils that are wet in winter. Good drainage is important all year, and a pH near neutral (7.0) is preferred. In climates with very hot summers, plant the rhizome just below the soil surface; in cooler climates, the top of the rhizome should be exposed. Do not mulch around the rhizome as this practice may encourage rot. Fertilize in early spring with an all-purpose fertilizer scratched in around the plants, avoiding direct contact with the rhizome. Reblooming Irises perform best if fertilized again after the first wave of flowering is finished.
Pests/Diseases: The Iris borer, the worst pest of these lovely plants, overwinters as eggs in spent leaves, so don’t give the critters a hiding place. The borers emerge in the spring as tiny caterpillars, which spend a couple of weeks boring through the leaves down into the rhizome, where they grow fat and cause great damage, often leading to soft rot that causes even more damage. Vigilance can help—it’s actually possible to kill the borers in situ if you catch them early enough. You’ll see vertical streaks in the leaves; that’s your guide to help you squash the pests. If you see any signs of rot in the rhizome, dig it up and remove the affected parts. Unless the infestation is severe, plants usually recover, or grow lustily enough that you can salvage healthy chunks to keep growing. The rhizomes may also become infected with soft rot. Well-drained soils are important, so add sand if your soil is heavy and plant so that the top of the rhizome is above the soil line. If soft rot does occur, dig out and discard affected rhizomes and cut away any smaller areas of damage.
Reflowering: Remove spent blooms consistently; Bearded Irises will flower sequentially on buds spaced along the stems. After blooming is finished, cut flower stems down at their base. Although reblooming varieties have a tendency to rebloom, sending up new fans that sport flower spikes as they mature later in the season, they are not guaranteed to bloom a second time. Repeat bloom is dependent on many things, including geographic location and growing conditions.
Dividing/Transplanting: Divide your Irises when the clump becomes crowded and bloom diminishes, usually every 3 to 4 years. The timing of division is very different than that of most perennials, because Bearded Irises go dormant shortly after flowering, and summer is the ideal time to dig up the rhizomes. Even though reblooming Irises don’t go dormant, this is also the correct time to divide those varieties. Break the rhizomes into pieces or cut them with a sharp knife. Select divisions with healthy fans of leaves, most likely from the outermost part of the plant. Discard the crowded interior pieces, and any that show signs of soft rot; dispose of these in the trash, not in the compost. This is the time to trim the leaves back to about 6 inches in length. Some gardeners like to dust the cut surfaces with powdered sulfur, or to dunk rhizomes in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. We haven’t found this step necessary, but it might be advisable if you have had problems with rot. Replant promptly. You will probably find yourself with extra divisions you can share with friends.
End-of-Season Care: After hard frost in the fall, cut foliage back hard, remove any foliage that appears spotted or yellowed and dispose of all debris in the trash. We recommend winter protection in cold climates, especially for the first winter after planting. We suggest covering the rhizomes with an inch or two of sand topped with a light layer of evergreen boughs, applied after the ground freezes and removed when the Forsythias bloom the following spring.
Calendar of Care
Early Spring: Diligently remove and destroy any old foliage to allow for fresh, new growth and prevent Iris borers from emerging as the weather warms. Remove any winter mulch. Feed plants with an all-purpose fertilizer scratched in around the plants, avoiding direct contact with the rhizome.
Mid-Spring: Watch vigilantly for the telltale signs of Iris borers in the foliage — dark vertical lines that may appear watery show up in the leaves. Squash the bugs where they live; if infestation is severe, remove affected foliage completely and destroy.
Late Spring: Taller forms may need staking. Deadhead as flowers fade, and cut entire flower spikes down at the base when blooming is finished. Fertilize reblooming varieties again after the first wave of flowering is through.
Summer: If plants need dividing, complete this task after flowering finishes and then trim the foliage back to six inches. Water divisions well during dry periods.
Fall: After hard frost in the fall, cut foliage back hard, remove any foliage that appears spotted or yellowed, and dispose of all debris in the trash. Winter protection in cold climates is recommended, especially for the first winter after planting. After the ground freezes, cover the rhizomes with an inch or two of sand topped with a light layer of evergreen boughs; remove when the Forsythias bloom the following spring.
It’s easy to gush about Hydrangeas. Grown for their large and spectacular flower heads, these classic shrubs are vigorous, of easy care, and attractive at virtually every stage of growth. Best of all, they dazzle in summer and fall, a time when many woody plants are resting. Whether you are a novice with growing Hydrangeas or an expert, our video series mentioned below can help you learn more about these beautiful shrubs.
Most Hydrangeas are not fussy as long as they receive their preferred amount of sunlight (generally full sun to part shade) and are planted in moist, well-drained soil. They will even thrive in coastal areas, since they tolerated high winds and salt. Most Hydrangeas do need water if it doesn’t rain, but are otherwise undemanding. Mulching Hydrangeas will conserve moisture and buffer soil temperatures.
There are many different types of Hydrangeas, from mophead (macrophylla) varieties, vining Hydrangeas (anomala petiolaris), native Oakleaf Hydrangeas and many more. Some are shade-loving types such as Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’, which also offers a sensational display of colorful fall foliage. To learn more about the different offerings of Hydrangea, watch our video “What are the Various Types of Hydrangeas” below.
Flowers come in shades of white, cream, chartreuse, pink, blue, and red. Blooms of many hydrangea Varieties change color over time, so they show is continually intriguing. Some varieties of Hydrangea change flower color depending on the pH of the soil, generally blue on acid soils and pink on alkaline. For help on getting your hydrangeas to bloom, watch our video, “Why Didn’t My Hydrangea Bloom?” below.
The biggest breakthrough in Hydrangea breeding has been the introduction of varieties that bloom on both old and new wood. Endless Summer®, Blushing Bride®, Let’s Dance® Moonlight, and Twist-N-Shout™ are among these exceptional long bloomers. They flower on old wood starting in late spring and then on new wood in midsummer. In warm climates, the bloom period can last up to six months. These newcomers also make good choices for colder climates, since bloom on new wood is reliable ensured, even after a severe winter. Regular deadheading of these varieties helps to encourage rebloom. For tips on pruning all varieties of Hydrangea, watch our video, “Pruning Hydrangeas” below.
Since Hydrangea varieties range from compact to sprawling, check your plant’s size at maturity and give it room to grow. Many Hydrangea varieties look superb when grown as a hedge. When Selecting companion plants, be sure that their light requirements match those of your Hydrangea and the planting site.
Hummingbirds are enchanting visitors to any garden. Small, fast, and as aerially sophisticated as helicopters, they zip around, feeding at nectar-rich blossoms. By planting the natural food sources they prefer, you’re sure to welcome these delightful little birds to your garden. Hummingbird feeders are another great way to entice them to your yard, and they’ll begin to investigate these as a possible new food source. Below are some of our favorite perennial plants and products, all of which will entice these remarkable flyers.
Hummingbirds are drawn to the brilliantly colored, bright magenta-red blossoms of Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine.’ These plants bloom long and hard and show excellent resistance to powdery mildew. A member of the Mint family, this vigorous Bee Balm will spread. Divide plants in spring and share with friends. A White Flower Farm introduction in 1992.
Of the 200 species in the genus Asclepias, the best known are North American wildflowers. They have small, curiously shaped blooms that appear in dense clusters. Asclepias ‘Cinderella’ is a genuine star with unusually dense clusters of pale pink flowers that open from dark pink buds. The vanilla-scented flowers last well in winter and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Agastache is a genus of about 30 aromatic species native to central and eastern Asia, Mexico, and the United States. Careful breeding and selection have given us newcomers that offer exceptional garden performance and a long season of bloom. Robust Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ produces a mass of soft powder-blue flower spikes from July onwards, making it a magnet for butterflies and admiring visitors alike.
Bring on the hummingbirds! Lonicera ‘Major Wheeler’ produces a blanket of tubular, reddish orange flowers (coral shades on the West Coast) from late spring through summer. Later, the red berries attract goldfinches and robins. It’s a selection of our native species, Lonicera sempervirens, and plants are both carefree and noninvasive.
In addition to enchanting us with their aerial acrobatics, hummingbirds can be a beneficial presence in the garden. A great way to encourage them to take up residence or visit often is to utilize hummingbird feeders. Our Hand-Painted Hummingbird Feeder is made in Mexico from recycled green glass that’s hand-blown in the shape of a blossom then painted by artists. Each brightly colored, beautifully constructed nectar feeder is secured by a metal stand that pushes easily into the ground.
Most gardeners enjoy growing flowers for the beauty they bring to outdoor areas. But we also like cutting blossoms and bringing them indoors in vases. For advice on how to cut and care for your own fresh cut flowers, we turned to White Flower Farm staffer Mary Altermatt. In addition to her job here in the Publications department, Mary is the owner of Mountain Meadow Flowers of New Milford, CT, purveyor of beautiful, organically grown perennial and annual cut flowers.
On her farm in New Milford, CT, she grows approximately 200 varieties of annual cut flowers from seed using organic methods. Throughout the growing season, she creates cut flower bouquets, which are sold at the White Flower Farm Store in Morris, CT, at area farmer’s markets, and to private clients. She also sells flowers by the bucket so clients including restaurants can create their own arrangements.
After 25 years of growing, here are some of Mary’s field tips for harvesting flowers:
Have plenty of clean buckets on hand, lightweight plastic is fine. Before cutting flowers, wash your buckets, vases and pruners with a mix of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water, let sit for a few minutes, rinse out and then fill with clean water, about 1/3 full. Bacteria growth in the water will clog the flower stem and prevent the flower from staying hydrated so these hygiene steps are well worth the effort. Buckets that are clean enough to drink out of is the rule of thumb.
Bring your bucket to the garden, preferably left close by in the shade, so when you cut a handful of stems they can go right into the water. When cutting, be sure to use a floral knife or scissors with thin blades to avoid crushing the stems. (If stems are crushed, it will inhibit or block the uptake of water.) As you’re harvesting, strip off the lower foliage that would be below the water line and shake off any excess dirt, to keep your harvest bucket as clean as possible.
It’s best to cut your flowers when they are cool and well hydrated, either early in the morning or later in the day, not in the heat of the day. Avoid harvesting flowers that are wet from rain or after watering. Damp flowers and foliage in a bucket will invite mold and fungus. Rather than over-stuffing your bucket and possibly crushing blooms, bring an extra bucket to the garden.
Do a little research ahead of time to know at what stage to harvest certain flowers. For example, a Sunflower should be cut when the petals start opening away from the center disk. A Peony should be cut before it opens at all, when the bud feels like a marshmallow.
After harvesting, bring the buckets into a cool holding area and remove any leftover lower leaves. The stems can be recut at an angle underwater. This prevents air bubbles from forming within the flower stems thereby blocking the flowers’ water uptake. For some flowers, like Dahlias, which have hollow stems, you can hold each stem upside down under the faucet, fill it with running water, hold your thumb over it like a straw, then submerge it into the bucket. This will strengthen the stem and prevent collapsing.
Transfer the stems to the “resting bucket” of clean water with a flower preservative, most commercial ones contain sugar for food, bleach to control bacteria, and a water acidifier. Let the flowers rest for at least a few hours in a cool spot or overnight, so they can take up plenty of water before more handling and arranging.
When it comes to arranging, Mary will provide a separate blog post with tips. But for some general guidelines, choose a color palette you like, choose a variety of heights, flower forms, and textures. Add something aromatic, if you have it, from fresh picked herbs to fragrant flowers.
After arranging your bouquet, hold it in one hand, if possible, and give a clean cut to even out the stem ends. For a longer vase life, the bouquet stems should be recut every three days and the vase water changed every other day to ensure clear uptake. If a flower completely wilts or becomes moldy, remove it from the bouquet. Display your bouquet out of direct hot sunlight and away from the fruit basket. Ripening fruit emits ethylene gas, which causes cut flowers to deteriorate faster.
During the hot and hazy mid-summer, the list of garden chores is whittled down to a few: watering, deadheading, watering, weeding, and watering.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to water, it’s a great idea to invest in a timer. Whether you prefer a simple mechanical timer or a more elaborate digital one, you can set the timer before you leave for work in the morning, so you water in the coolest part of the day. That wastes less water through evaporation. The theory is that water will evaporate, much like dew, and be less likely to cause fungal problems than night-time watering. We try to drag the sprinkler and hose into position the evening before.
Most plants need an inch or two a week of water. In the garden, it’s better to deliver a single deep soaking than dribble a little water every day. Deep watering encourages roots to drive deep, making the plants less susceptible to wilting. Plants in containers may need watering daily – even twice a day. Check the soil first, though – overwatering is the biggest cause of death for container plants. The soil should be allowed to dry out a bit between waterings, although not so much that plants wilt.
Most gardeners wouldn’t rank weeding as their most pleasurable task, but because it’s something that must be done, it’s best to make it as easy as possible. There is an array of top quality tools designed to help eradicate weeds of various types in a variety of locations. An Easy-Glide Garden Hoe works beautifully in borders and the Tight Spots Weeding Tool dislodges weeds that find their way into crevices and cracks. In addition to having the right tools and supplies (like a good Trug to haul away weeds), our advice is to weed after it rains or after a good watering. The roots of most weeds yield more easily when the ground is moist.
Although deadheading can be a tedious task, it is one that is necessary and will reward you in the end. This will help keep your garden looking fresh and tidy. However, another important benefit of deadheading is to help produce blooms for the rest of the growing season. The process of deadheading includes removing spent flowers, either with hand pruners or the tips of your fingers by pinching off the tips of the plant. By doing this, taking care to remove the ovaries, you are helping redirect energy back into the plant. This will help to encourage another flush of flowers in many perennials. Leaving you with a longer period of time to enjoy the flowers and blossoms in your garden.
By mid- to late summer, many plants have finished their showy season while others are still going strong. These long-lasting late bloomers can serve as “anchors” for a summer garden that looks exuberant well into August and September. Some of these plants include native species such as Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Monarda, and Coreopsis. They’re used to thriving despite the heat and sometimes drought.
Many of our favorite long-blooming perennials are not fussy about their growing culture. Just plant them in good loamy soil. Full sun is often preferred but some do well in partial shade. Most blooming plants appreciate a little water during dry spells. Plan to water during cooler times of the day.
Roses and Hydrangeas are at their best through summer and into fall. Check the growing requirements for specific Roses, but generally, the long-blooming varieties are not finicky. Our Landscape Roses combine long bloom periods with carefree growing habits.
Among the many choices for great Hydrangeas, you’ll find some that bloom in partial shade as well as full sun. New varieties that flower on both old and new wood, such as Endless Summer®, produce blossoms for up to four months.
Rudbeckia, Echinacea, and Geraniums (our favorites is ‘Rozanne’) will flower for weeks without assistance. Coreopsis and Salvia tend to rebloom more reliably if they are sheared back hard after the first full flush of flowers. Deadheading Lilies will help to keep them tidy. Enjoy your abundant blooms by cutting them for arrangements.