Trees for Summertime Livin’

    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce.
    • Rose of Sharon, with its hibiscus-like flowers, is a lovely summer bloomer in our climate. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall in full sun or part shade.
    • Sow these vegetable seeds directly in the soil: carrots, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radish, spinach and root vegetables. Keep the surface of the soil moist until the seedlings are established.
    • Divide Oriental poppies and bearded iris now. Add some bone meal in the bottom of the hole when you replant them.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.

Trees for Summertime Livin’

Trees are never appreciated more than in the summer when their welcome shade provides a cool escape from the brutal sun. Though most of our trees bloom in the spring, there are a few trees that offer both shade and flowers to enjoy throughout the summer.

Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, is perhaps the best known of our summer-flowering trees. In Willits they start blooming in August and continue into the fall. It is often chosen for a small tree because of its brilliant blossoms which come in all shades of pink, red, and lavender. The trunks and bark are also attractive and it grows well in small spaces. Easy to grow, the new crape myrtle varieties resist disease, grow faster and give you longer lasting, brighter blooms. The most popular color now is bright red, ‘Dynamite’.

Another beautiful tree is Albizia julibrissin, known by several common names including “Mimosa” and “Silk Tree.” This gracefully spreading tree grows to a height of 15 to 25 feet, spreading to 25 – 35 feet wide. It is fast growing and has a low branching habit that often creates multiple trunks. The delicate, lacy, almost fern-like foliage is very attractive. Fragrant, silky, pink puffy pompom blooms appear in the summer. The litter problem of the blooms, leaves and long seed pods requires consideration when planting this tree. Mimosa is popular for use as a terrace or patio tree for its light, dappled shade and tropical effect. The variety ‘Flame’ has rose-red flowers that are very beautiful.

Another lovely tree, which is not well-known, is the Chitalpa. It is a tough tree that does well in hot, dry areas. It grows 20 to 40 feet tall and as wide with soft leaves and beautiful blooms. Indeed the blossoms are its crowning glory. The fragrant and orchid-like flowers appear at the tips of the branches from early summer to fall, in shades of lavender and pink. The multi-trunked habit makes it well suited for a wide screen. Its light shade allows enough light for flowers to grow beneath.

Evergreen magnolias, Magnolia grandiflora, offer a long season of sweet scented white flowers in the summer. These magnificent trees are slow-growing but provide an excellent backdrop to a large garden, or a tall, spreading shade tree. Their glossy, leathery leaves, 4-8 inches long, are attractive throughout the year. The fruit is a cone-like cluster (to 3-5” long) of rosy-red glossy seeds. Magnolia trees are heat-resistant and tolerate wet soil. There are also smaller forms available with the same deliciously fragrant white flowers.

Flowering trees provide a focal point for the summer garden or patio area and add to your enjoyment of the outdoors.

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