09 Jun Succession of Bloom in the Garden
Many years ago, I wrote and published a book on Succession of Bloom in the Perennial Garden that explains how to plan your garden so that you have color every month of the growing season. This book came about because I was frustrated that most of the other books and catalogs that my students used for reference basically said most perennials “bloom all summer”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My goal was to track when the perennials, bulbs, and flowering shrubs that we use in our gardens begin and end blooming right here in Connecticut.
Most folks do a LOT of plant shopping in April, May, and June when they have spring fever. They buy what is in flower. New gardeners don’t realize that the average perennial has a bloom period of about 3-4 weeks. Come the summer months, they are often disappointed when the
plants that they put in stop flowering and the garden turns green, perhaps even a bit disheveled or unruly.NOW is the time to plan and plant for your summer and fall garden.
We are entering a new phase of the garden. The daffodils, tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons, and many of our favorite early bloomers are finishing up. There are lots and LOTS of plants that are budding up and getting ready to burst into bloom- you just need to know what they are and how to weave them into your landscape.
At Natureworks, we keep our benches filled with fresh, flowering, colorful plants every week of the summer. Our goal is to inspire you to continue planting perennials, vines, annuals, and flowering shrubs that will thrive in hot weather
and the inevitable humidity. Some of our favorites include butterfly weed (great for the monarchs), anise hyssop (Agastache), Echinaceas, ‘Becky’ Shasta daisies, fragrant summer Phlox paniculata, early blooming asters, snakeroot (Cimicifuga)… the list is long and very exciting. Folks visit our gardens daily and stroll around, taking notes and learning how to increase the color in their own gardens using ours as an example. Shrub roses, butterfly bushes, glossy Abelia, and St. Johnswort (Hypericum) are just a few of the shrubs that are reliable summer bloomers. We fill in the gaps where the bleeding hearts and poppies go summer dormant with tender perennial Salvias, zinnias, Cleome (spider flowers) and other vigorous annuals that say “bring on the heat!”
Whenever we plant, we water our new additions in with Organic Plant Magic. This dehydrated compost tea makes the feeder roots grow and helps the plants get over any transplanting shock. It is so important that watering in with Organic Plant Magic is built into every estimate that we do for our landscape installations.
What’s Bugging Your Garden this Week?
Oh joy, there is nothing like harvesting fresh lettuce for a salad on a Sundayafternoon. Imagine my surprise when I found a slug in my colander of lettuce as I washed it! Yes, along with the much needed rain comes slugs, snails without shells, slimy creatures that come out at night and eat holes in your plants. One way to control them is to sink shallow cat food cans into the soil and fill them with beer. The slugs are attracted to the yeast in the beer, fall in, and drown. As we would rather drink beer than use it to drown slugs, in our own and in our client’s gardens, we use Sluggo, an all-natural product made from iron phosphate.
We have been getting lots of customers asking us why the leaves on our Joe Pye weed plants (Eupatorium) and our butterfly bushes have holes in them, yet they don’t see any insects. This is due to earwigs, another night-feeding insect that hides in debris at the base of the plants during the day. You can place an empty paper towel roll on the ground beneath the affected plants at night. In the morning, the earwigs will be hanging out in the tube and you can decant them into a waiting jug of soap and canola oil. Another alternative is to sprinkle Sluggo Plus at the base of these plants. This product contains not only iron phosphate, but also Spinosad, an organic insecticide which will kill the earwigs.
Another pest that people are asking is the flea beetle. These tiny black, fast flying insects chew small holes in your vegetable plants, especially eggplants and often, tomatoes. In my garden, I sprinkle the plants with diatomaceous earth, a crusty powder filled with silica. I do this in the early morning when the dew is on the plants. Using an old flour shaker, I cover both the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves. Spraying the leaves first with Hot Pepper Wax will also deter the flea beetles. Hot pepper (capsacin) repels bugs, it doesn’t kill them.
Finally, everyone is talking about the gypsy moth caterpillars that seem to be plaguing us in great numbers this month. For true caterpillars, we use Bacillus thuringiensis or B.T. Spray this on the caterpillars when they are young. This means you should be walking your gardens daily and scouting for any pests to “head them off at the pass” before they become a really serious problem. Then, knowing exactly what the pest is and its life cycle will help you, and us, suggest the least toxic, most effective organic solution.
To reference material from emails we’ve sent out in the past, click here.