After the colorful play of spring bulbs, the burst of rhododendrons and the rush of early summer roses and peonies, what is a gardener to do to bring interest to the hottest months of the year?
The answer is to turn to plants that will perform brilliantly on the summer stage.
A host of annuals provide hot-season color — among them geraniums (Pelargonium), petunias and cosmos. When carefully tended and deadheaded, annuals bloom all summer. But annuals fade with the first frosts.
By looking beyond annuals, your garden dollar can buy plants that not only look good in the summer, stretch into the fall and winter but also return year after year.
Many gardeners visit nurseries in May, and their gardens are full of late spring color — they bought what caught their eye. Take time in July and August to return to a nursery and discover the surprising range of shrubs and perennials in bloom in the heat. Make a note for future purchase, or buy the plants on the spot to bring home to add summer interest.
Many perennial plants — herbaceous plants that don’t have woody stems —provide summer bloom. Perennial borders were once the mainstays of large estate gardens, reminders of the day when one had the room for a summer-only border and the time to tend it.
Today, many gardeners choose to make their gardens work harder and mix in perennials with shrubs and trees, to create a mixed border that has floral and foliage interest throughout the year.
Shrubs add summer bloom, too. Taller shrubs make up the background planing of a mixed border, while perennials and smaller shrubs go in the foreground.
Consider hydrangeas, and not just the ones our grandmothers grew — the mopheads that come in shades of blue and pink. Lacecap hydrangeas, with small fertile flowers surrounded by large
sterile ones, bring a more delicate look.
Explore the many other species and cultivars for a wider range of flower shapes and plant height. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ grows to 10 feet or more and explodes in August with cone-shaped flowers that fade to pink and create a show into autumn.
The delicious colors of lavender (Lavendula species) come not just in purple hues, but also in
. BLOOMS, Page 15