The Weekly Gardener 1

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I Love Summer

Southern Magnolia

Magnolia

I took a stroll through the garden, just to take in its glorious fragrance. The great southern magnolia is in bloom, after so many years I can't even remember, and the sublime perfume of its flowers mingles with the heady sweet scent of the garden phlox and the spicy accents of bee balm and mint.

Next week marks the official beginning of summer, but summer is already here, judging by the unmistakable smell of heated herbs. There is a mish-mash of bloom in the garden, some belonging to the beginning of summer, some belonging to the beginning of fall. Plumbago and hostas blooming together, among bright orange daylilies, lavender and phlox. Here and there the lilies I planted last summer are trying to assert themselves, not very sturdy yet.

All the early hostas are fragrant, a fragrance that will blend into the scented evening air next week when they bloom. Oh, blessed summer! Warmth, sustenance, fragrance and beauty, what more can a gardener ask for? Some people get bored as the season advances, and start dreaming about pumpkins and turning leaves and the sparkle of white Christmas. Not me. I never miss winter, chestnuts roasting on an open fire or not.

The summer is just starting and I have the whole length of it to enjoy, and the mere thought of it makes me giddy.

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Tall Bellflowers

Smooth Blue Asters

Container gardening sneaks up on you. You start with one potted plant and pretty soon the entire patio or balcony is covered in them, making it look almost indistinguishable from the adjacent flower bed.

If you have lots of plants in pots, keep them grouped. That way the containers get some protection from drying out and they are easier to water if they are all in one spot.

Over a few summers I tried a couple of different vegetables in containers, and I must say none of them did well, maybe because I didn't stick to watering them enough, which during the hottest months of summer means twice a day. If you have your heart set on growing vegetables in pots, make sure the containers are large enough to support their growth and provide sufficient nutrients, since they are very heavy feeders. I noticed that even with the best of effort, they fare much better when planted in the garden.

Plants that like dry, exposed sites, like sun loving herbs, verbenas, heleniums, petunias and moss roses, do very well in containers without an unreasonable amount of care.

The potting soil should be replaced every spring, but when this is not feasible, as is the case with container grown perennials and trees, make sure to top dress the pots to replace the soil that gets lost with each watering. Regular applications of fertilizer are essential to keep the plants healthy.