Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Friday, July 26, 2013

Capturing the heat....

One of the most fascinating parts of creating a garden is discovering, newly every year, what succeeds against all odds. As a designer, I want to give my clients every opportunity to enjoy THIS time of year. By this, I mean late summer. The cicadas, the start date of the school year in view, the heat, the humidity, the tomatoes, the peppers and eggplants, the mosquitoes and lighting bugs. The argiope spiders! It's the time of year when we begin harvesting what we sowed. It's the time when I remember to surrender to the heat and enjoy the salsa. Iced drinks and fleeting time-- gardens are time catchers. So put objects and plants in them that capture and express the beauty of certain times of year....

Here are some suggestions for plants that make me happy during this fleeting time.

Blackberry Lily--This is an oddball. Used to be rare but I'm seeing it more lately. Actually an iris (Belamcanda chinensis), this guy puts on black berries in the fall and is very decorative. It has very small and airy blooms with that crazy red dot... they don't last long but they sure do tower above everything else and create a real note of contrast!

Echinacea-- This is the prairie favorite. It does require additional water when the drought settles in. But not too much... those seed heads and the purple flower really inspire and delight me.The goldfinches love them in season and in winter! 

Spurge- Pairs very well with the Blackberry lily because this hugs the ground, has the small minty green "needle-like" leaves and a persistent bloom (directly contrasting the Blackberry lily). Spurge is strange- reported to be invasive in livestock fields yet a really, really great landscape plant. Drought tolerant and nearly a succulent.... Odd and wonderful.

Hardy Hibiscus- This is a showy mofo. She's loud and tall and her foliage is great. She's worth the wait! Need I say more?

Tiger Lilies- These came with the house, as far as I remember. As in, they came with the house when my folks bought it in 1979! These are a real lily, 3-4' tall. Now they are in dappled shade but they prefer sun. These small black bulblets are how the plant reproduces!

This montage of awesome are yellow Rudbekia 'Goldsturm' with Lantana (an annual) in front of them. I need to reinforce right here- this is why you plant annuals! The color and the wow when it's hot and dry. Also, behind them, that mass of grey-green is 'Silver Mound' Artemesia. It's stunning.

Here are some extras that are not pictured but so worth it in the late summer: Ninebark "Summer Wine" has amazing burgundy foliage and a great structure. Caryopteris is not quite in bloom yet but I always remember why I love this plant right now. Bright blue blossoms, 3' tall stature, grayish foliage. This is one that wasn't probably as cold tolerant at one time. New varieties are really useful and great.

Also, please enjoy this amazing shrimp/ avocado salsa recipe from the Smitten Kitchen.... hubba hubba!

Here are some garden reminders for this part of the season:

It really is time to divide and replant bearded irises. They go into a summer dormancy. Use you garden fork and lift the rhizomes and divide them. Replant them when it isn't over 90 degrees-- other than that, it's pretty simple!

Warning: the spider mites are out in force. I wrote on the landscape company blog about this topic, so visit there if you're interested. 

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