Summer can take your breath away. Is there a magic plant that will stand up to heat, gardener neglect, small amounts of moisture, and then pelting rainstorms?
This was a tough year in my garden. Everything looked overgrown and messy. Even my containers didn’t fill out or fill me with pride. It was Hot with a capital “H.” Heat wilts this gardener just as quickly as the plants. Air conditioning has been a boon to Southern states’ growth, but a bane to Southern gardeners like me, who have become too accustomed to cool, dehumidified air. Use to be, I could work outside for hours. Now I am spoiled. Moreover, my garden shows the neglect. It is probably time to replace many of the perennials and annuals with easy-care shrubs that can look after themselves. I’ll think long and hard about this.
A few flowers did well even with my neglectful care. One, blooming now even though I only pinched it once, is my favorite fall chrysanthemum, ‘Ryan’s Pink.’ Pink isn’t a fall color, you say? Well, neither is baby blue, but I love the combination of pink and blue in the garden. It arrives in the fall just in time to calm those reds and golds of autumn. The blue is supplied by the mistflower (wild ageratum-Eupatorium coelestinum), also known as a weed. It happily seeds itself about but is easy to pull up in unwanted areas.
Is there anything tougher under the noontime sun than lantana? There is another, canna. Both of these take a minimum of care although the canna flowers look best when the forming seedpods are removed from the flower stalk. This takes just a few minutes, depending on the stand of cannas in your garden. And, stand they do, having sturdy tall stems that never have needed staking in my garden beds. Plus, they multiply quickly and are easily shared with friends.
For grand looks and ease of care, my sunny bedding flowers of choice are annual vinca for summer and violas for winter. They have become the staples in my front street beds. With some slow release plant food when they go in the ground and a little water occasionally, they blossom all summer/winter long.
I used to use pansies in the winter beds, but I have found violas are much more forgiving of a lazy gardener. There is no deadheading or weekly feeding needed to keep them happy. The flowers are small, but they cover the green and are quite large plants by springtime, showy enough for the passersby. They also will take some heat if we get spikes of temperatures in the spring or fall, which seems to happen more often lately.
Is there anything more common than impatiens aka busy Lizzie? There is a reason for their heavy planting. They bloom in the shade until frost turns them to mush. Water them; that’s all the instruction you need to have color in the shade.
Sun coleuses are the VIP’s of foliage plants. They hold up to the heat, humidity, and sizzling sunshine without a problem. They even take shade, although their colors might suffer a fadeout. They do equally well in the ground and in pots. They do require snipping now and again to keep them in shape. The pinched parts are easy to root. Remove any limp tips and stick in a pot of soil-less mix. Keep the pots watered and in the shade. In a week or two, you have free plants to fill in spots where those finicky plants you had to have - died.
We need landscapes that can fend for themselves for a couple of months with just the occasional nip of a dead flower or the start-up of a sprinkler. These plants are gardener tested. They can weather the heat and storms. Save your breath. These can take the heat.
This year GardenSMART embarks on one of our most exciting adventures ever and we'd love to have you join us! We are partnering with Alki Tours and spending 10 days visiting some of the most amazing sites in Holland and Belgium. Many of these gardens are my favorite horticultural destinations in the world. If you are a plant lover, this trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Jump into Spring with savings up to $2200 on this Exclusive Cruise of the Rivers of Holland & Belgium with Eric Johnson Host of GardenSMART from PBS
Sail right into the pages of a storybook on our European garden tour through Holland and Belgium.
MAY 6-16, 2018
As low as $3799 per person/do, Price includes airfare from New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago. CALL FOR OTHER CITIES THROUGHOUT THE USA
Watch filming and be part of the fun, telling your favorite...and not so favorite Dirty Tales.
2 Nights Amsterdam & 7 Nights River. Visit Amsterdam, Holland, Belgium, Kinderdijk, Antwerp, Bruges, Keukenhof Gardens, Rotterdam and More!
This Exclusive, Five-Star, Cruise & Garden Tours Vacation Includes:
2 nights in Amsterdam including gorgeous hotel, wonderful tours and daily breakfast
7 nights on the new, flagship Amadeus Silver III river cruise ship
Incredible excursions in Arnhem, Kinderdijk, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Utrecht
All of your meals on board the ship, including wine with dinner