Is your garden ready for summer heat?


July is looming, threatening even, with punishing weather that demands the utmost from both garden and gardener. It will be more comfortable if you have done your homework (and yard work) previously and have provided the hardiest perennial surviviors to see you through the next two to three months.

September cannot come too soon, but even that month does not promise respite from our unforgiving summers.

Midsummer survivors have been mentioned frequently in this column. Forgive me if a quick enumeration of the most dependable follows. Sometimes we need to be reminded of things we knew all along.

  • Begonias
  • Lantana
  • Caladiums
  • Mandevilla
  • California bush daisy
  • Marigold, many varieties
  • Coleus
  • Melampodium
  • Coneflowers
  • Pentas
  • Daylilies
  • Roses
  • Gazania
  • Salvia, both perennial and annual
  • Hibiscus
  • Scaevola
  • Hydrangea
  • Verbena, try V. bonariensis
  • Impatiens
  • Zinnia, Zahara series

Of the above, roses, impatiens, hibiscus and hydrangeas are well known to be subject to deer depredations.

I hear your groans and exclamations, i.e., “Isn’t there anything new?”

Well, there are Belamcanda chinensis, blackberry lily and Pardancanda, candy lily, which although not new, are rarely seen and should be sought out and used more because they are floriferous bloomers in mid to late summer. Not lilies, but members of the iris family, they in no way resemble iris in bloom or stature. Although they have recently been renamed iris domestica by horticultural experts who have their scientific reasons, blackberry lily and candy lily are still commonly used designations.

Blackberry lily is orange with darker speckles, providing a cheerful presence in the garden. Candy lily is lemon yellow, unspotted and frequently sold by the cultivar name of Hello Yellow. Both display intriguing upright black seedheads in the fall, much admired in dried arrangements.

New is the Oso Easy landscape rose — yes, yet another landscape rose — promoted by Proven Winners. Cherry Pie is bright red while other seductively named shades are Fragrant Pink Spreader, Honey Bun, Paprika, Peaches and Cream and Strawberry Crush. All have glossy foliage and are claimed to be low maintenance, highly disease resistant and require neither spraying nor pruning — perfect for mass plantings and borders. Who will be the first to step up and try?

A very interesting small shrub of strong architectural character on the market is Sky Pencil, a slender upright form of Japanese holly, ilex crenata. It was found in the wild on a mountainside in Japan and propagated in the United States by the U.S. National Arboretum. It makes an elegant and dramatic centerpiece for a container or for two containers framing an entrance or a view.

So, little by little the garden is kept going by combining the old and the new, the familiar and the unusual, perennial and annual, along with some small flowering shrubs and the gardener’s creative imagination.
It’s always a new day in the garden!