Hot-Summer Garden

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Garlic should be harvested when the leafy tops turn yellow and fall over; air-dry bulbs, remove tops and store bulbs in a cool place.
    • Hydrangeas are full of giant pink or blue flowers all summer, filling the shade garden with color.
    • Shade-loving begonias will add color and beauty in both planters and hanging baskets.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrin spray to control heavy infestations.
    • Prune rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas to shape them now. If you wait much longer, you will be cutting off next year’s flowers.

Hot-Summer Garden

Give your garden some pizzazz this summer with a flower bed of hot-colored flowers. These are the warm colors found in glowing sunsets, crackling fires and brilliant fall foliage. From clear yellows to gold, orange and red, these flowers will brighten any garden bed.

Plan your flower bed with the taller plants to the rear and the low spreaders in front. In between you can plant a menagerie of medium-sized flowers. A mix of annuals and perennials will give you the most color all summer long.

For the back row, there are yellow and orang0e daylilies, yellow coreopsis, and bright colored zinnias. Red yarrow, Achillea ‘Pomegranate’, is a nice addition.

Daylilies come in a wide range of colors now, from yellow, orange and red into shades of purple and pink. The shorter variety ‘Stella D’Oro’ reblooms throughout the summer and is great for edging the front of the garden.

Coreopsis are a favorite flower with many gardeners because of their bright, sunny colors and long blooming season. Their drifts of daisy-like flowers light up the garden with bright splashes of gold, rust and soft yellow.

Zinnias are a gift from Mexico. Tall zinnias come in all the bright colors of red, orange, yellow and purple. Flowers can be ruffled doubles or spiky cactus form. A planting of mixed colors makes a colorful statement.

In the middle of your bed, the showy banded flowers of Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ will add a big splash of color with their large orange-red blossoms tipped by a ring of yellow.

Rudbeckias, also known as black-eyed Susans and Gloriosa daisies, are beautiful daisy flowers for the border. The petals are golden yellow, sometimes with splashes of red and all have black centers. ‘Autumn Colors’ produce large flowers in a range of bicolor shades from yellow through gold, orange and bronzy-red.

New varieties of Echinacea come in lots of bright colors from yellow to orange and red and bright pink. With their prominent centers, the daisy flowers are a bright addition to the border.

Marigolds come in all sizes from 8-inch French marigolds to tall African marigolds with large, fluffy flowers. The dwarfs come in a wide range of colors and bicolors while the taller flowers can be yellow, gold or orange. No annual is more cheerful or easier to grow than marigolds.

For the front of the border, look to colorful spillers like calibrachoa or Million Bells. This tough, ever-bloomer loves the sun and the heat. Look for it in yellow, rose, orange or purple.

For the front of the border, look to colorful spillers like calibrachoa or Million Bells. This tough, ever-bloomer loves the sun and the heat. Look for it in yellow, rose, orange or purple. Dwarf zinnias are bright orange and make an outstanding edging.

Bright alyssum and the bright blue shades of lobelia are excellent border plants. They bloom all summer long.

Fill in the bare spots with marigolds and zinnias of different heights and the bright flowers of petunias and you’ll have amazing color from now till frost.

Fire up your garden with the hot colors of Summer.

Delightful Daylilies

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Dress up for the Fourth! Red, white and blue petunias, verbena or combinations of these with lobelia, geraniums, impatiens and salvia will make a nice display for the Fourth of July.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Check young trees and fruit trees for suckers and water sprouts. Rub suckers off as they appear and cut water sprouts off apple and pear trees.
    • Fragrant star jasmine is in full bloom right now. Plant one in a semi-shaded spot where you can enjoy its lovely perfume.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrins to control heavy infestations.

Delightful Daylilies

Some of the most beautiful, and often overlooked, perennials are the daylilies. Few plants offer flowers in so many colors with so little care. These hardy perennials have blooms that are both lovely and edible, and for some reason, deer do not find them interesting.

Daylilies originally came in simple colors of yellow, orange or red. But now, thanks to hybridizers, they bloom in almost every color imaginable. Flowers may have ruffled petals, smooth petals, variegated coloring, dark or light throats, and many other traits.

Varieties include everything from 1-foot-tall dwarfs to those standing 4 feet tall with flowers measuring up to 5 inches across.

Daylilies will grow almost anywhere, but they do best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Light yellow varieties, many shades of pink, and delicate pastels need full sun to bring out their lovely colorings. Many red and purple cultivars benefit from partial shade in the hottest part of the day because dark colors absorb heat and do not withstand the sun as well as lighter colors.

They are also not fussy about soil as long as it is well-drained. They do appreciate water while they are blooming. Water thoroughly but infrequently for the strongest plants. Mulch will help retain moisture in the soil. Once established, plants need only occasional watering.

Daylilies may be evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous. This has nothing to do with their hardiness (to cold weather) and they are all hardy in most all parts of California.

As the name implies, the daylily flowers last only a day, but nature compensates by crowding each plant with several flowering spikes that push well above the arching sword-shaped leaves. Each flower spike holds a dozen or more flower buds. Remove the spent blossoms to keep the plants looking fresh and beautiful.

Considered a delicacy by wild food gatherers and knowledgeable chefs, the daylily has a long history in Chinese medicine and cuisine. Daylily flower buds and blossoms – especially the pale yellow and orange varieties – have a sweet flavor that adds interest to salads as well as cooked dishes. Leaves and roots are also edible.

One of the best loved varieties is Stella d’Oro, a dwarf plant that blooms over a long season. It blooms with heavy clusters of 2-1/2 in. yellow blossoms through the summer and into fall.

Use daylilies in borders, on banks, along driveways, among evergreen shrubs or along streams. Plant dwarf varieties in rock gardens or as edgings. Echinacea, Perovskia, Achillea, Coreopsis, Salvia, and Buddleia are wonderful companion plants, and they will bring your garden alive with the flitting of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Nothing says “summer” better than the colorful blooms of daylilies!

Bulbs and Perennials

Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Jenny Watts
    • Fall is for planting! Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now will grow twice as much next year as those planted next spring.
    • Cover crops should be planted in the garden as soon as you pull out summer crops. They will feed the soil and prevent erosion over the winter.
    • Garlic cloves can be planted now. Keep them watered and weeded through the winter and you will harvest healthy large bulbs next June.
    • Ornamental cabbage makes a dramatic planting in flower beds over the winter.
    • Divide artichoke plants which have been in the ground for three or four years. Mulch established plants with steer manure.

Combining Bulbs and Perennials for Spring Beauty

A spring garden should be full of surprises all season long. From the early crocuses of late winter, through the power and glory of tulips, until the abundant blooms of summer arrive to take their turn, the spring garden should be a showplace. And it can be. All it takes is some planning this fall.

Fall is, of course, the time to plant flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Fall is also a great time to plant perennials that come up in the spring such as hostas, bleeding hearts, peonies, coral bells, daylilies, and others. Skillful combination of bulbs and perennials can make your garden a showcase next spring.

After flowering, bulbs need to be left alone for about six weeks, until their foliage is brown and withered. The foliage dieback period is necessary for the bulbs to “re-charge” for the next season’s bloom, but it can be unsightly. This is where perennial partners can help out.

As the bulb foliage dies back, the perennial foliage is filling out to cover the waning foliage of the bulbs. This “camouflage” strategy can help keep your garden looking fresh, while your bulb flowers make their exit and the ensuing perennial flower show begins.

But camouflage is only part of the strategy. Emerging perennials also complement tulips and other spring-bloomers in the spring garden, providing contrasting foliage that is quite pleasing. Some will even bloom together.

Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart), with its fern-like leaves and arching sprays of heart-shaped flowers, adds a graceful romantic tone to the early spring garden. After it blooms, the foliage dies back for the summer. Dicentra eximia ‘Luxuriant’ is a lovely old-fashioned plant with ferny, gray-green foliage and sprays of pink, heart-shaped flowers from May to September. They prefer shady conditions, but can handle full winter sun under deciduous trees.

Hemerocallis (daylilies) are another good bulb foliage concealer with dense strappy foliage that comes up in spring. Depending on the variety, it can provide weeks – or even months – of summer bloom. Daylilies and daffodils are a classic combination. Planted together, daffodils and ever-blooming daylilies can provide bloom from April till October in the same spot.

Hostas with large, colorful leaves of green, chartreuse, blue-tones, golden-green, and green edged in white, are perfect partners for daffodils. As the daffodils mature, the hostas expand to their full glory and camouflage the fading bulb foliage. Use in areas that get morning sun.

Penstemons and yarrows are usually cut back in the winter, which gives spring bulbs room to display their glory. When they start growing, they will cover the browning foliage as the bulbs fade.

Of course pansies and violas also make an excellent bulb companions as they will bloom from now through next spring.

Make your spring garden a masterpiece with some planning this fall.