Pretty and Productive

Pretty and Productive

I spent a wonderful weekend in my garden. The weather was picture perfect for all kinds of garden tasks. Because of the regular rainfall, everything is growing to gigantic proportions. I performed my annual “Honey I shrunk the smokebush” ritual on the purple smokebush in my courtyard and filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with clippings from every garden. I call it CUTTING WINDOWS for the plants. I attacked the veggie beds, removing the breadseed poppies and borage that had gone to seed as well as the lettuce and spinach that was done. Then I planted 12 more pepper plants, 3 more tomato plants, and some carrot seeds. Guess what? I still have room left to add more veggies! Just wait until I harvest my garlic in a couple of weeks, one more entire raised bed will open up. Food growing never stops. If you want to understand what I mean by that phrase, please check out the article below. It’s the best year I have EVER seen for succession planting! Take advantage of it. 

Summer blooming Alliums are so easy to grow. This is Sussex Prairies in England with Alliums in the foreground and Echinaceas and Penstemon digitalis in the background. Our favorite summer Allium is ‘Millenium’ and we have plenty in stock. It blooms and blooms and blooms…  

A year ago this week I was in England on a wonderful tour of 17 gardens. As I perused the selection of plants on our benches this week (after we added 5 deliveries of fresh color to our plant benches since last week), I realized that so many of the plants that we have now were the stars of many of the English gardens I so loved. In the first article below, I will give you a tour of the Natureworks plants via some of my photos of the gardens I visited in England last year. 

I have a quiz for you. Can you tell what the seeds in the photo above have in common? They can all be planted now! The top row are perennials. In the olden days, many perennials were started in the summer from seed. In the fall they were planted out into the garden beds. What a wonderful way to grow LOTS of plants very inexpensively. We have plenty of seed starting trays and organic seed starting soil. Why not give it a try? The bottom row are herb seeds to plant now. Borage, dill, and cilantro that were planted in the spring are all 

My cucumbers are VERY happy in their Smart Pots on the south side of my house. I also have them in a raised bed in the garden and in another pot by my driveway. My husband loves cucumbers and I am happy to oblige. I spent a long time tying them up to stakes over the weekend. They all got fed too.  

bolting to seed. Keep on planting fresh seed and you will be graced with tons of fresh herbs through late fall. Eventually, these fast growing, self-seeding herbs will just start popping up in your garden. Until then, keep planting seeds. I also plant basil seeds into clay pots and set them on the south side of my house. Many of the most popular culinary basil varieties are susceptible to downy mildew. I plant new basil plants every few weeks and I also sow seeds now for a late fall crop. This has worked very well for me and I have had plenty of fresh, healthy basil right through till the first hard frost in the fall. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of feeding your plants right now. Not all plants, but definitely anything growing in Smart Pots, containers, hanging baskets and vegetables. Annuals in the garden appreciate regular feeding too. 

They are expected to keep on blooming and blooming- they need food!  Deadheading and feeding is the key. Over the weekend I watered my veggies with Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed and sprinkled granular organic fertilizer in my containers. 

This Thursday at 4pm, join me for another episode of Facebook Live. This

Meet Digitalis ‘Yellow Herold’, a perennial foxglove beloved by bees. This grows well in dry soil, partial shade, and isn’t eaten by deer.  

week’s theme is Let me Introduce You. I will highlight some of the very coolest plants in the nursery that you may have never met before and I’ll tell you why I think they are wonderful. Not all plants 

Meet fun, fluffy pink Sanguisorba obtusa 

thrive in our changeable CT summers. Heat, humidity, rain, and drought can all take their toll. I am always on the lookout for varieties that thrive with minimum care. If you can, come and be in the audience. It really is live, you can probably tell by watching us ham it up on the videos. If you can’t get here, tune in and type in your questions or watch it anytime. I try to monitor the questions and comments over the weekend and answer questions as they pop up. Our customers are telling us that they LOVE learning this way. 

This Saturday morning, our garden walk will be devoted to Native Plants for the Summer Garden. The walks start at 10 am, they are free, and you just have to show up, no need to pre-register. This is a great time to visit and stroll the gardens with me, they are outrageously beautiful right now- lush, abundant, teaming with life, and overflowing with color. 

My bee balm is so gorgeous this week. It grows through the native mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) that surrounds my raised beds and attracts the hummingbirds to my garden. I eat the flowers- they taste like Earl Gray tea.  
The Bulbs are Coming! The Bulbs are Coming! 

Are you starting to see advertisements for bulbs arrive in the mail or email? STOP! Wait! Natureworks carries a huge assortment of flower bulbs. We’ve placed our orders – we’re talking thousands and thousands of bulbs of all sorts. In my opinion, a garden isn’t complete without spring blooming bulbs. Period. I grow them in between the crowns of my perennials, at the base of my shrubs, even in my veggie beds as they complete their life cycle before many of the veggies are planted. I can teach you how to have color from bulbs planted in the fall from February through July. You can even grow Colchicums and autumn crocuses for September and October color. Support your local garden center and let us help you plan an amazing bulb garden. They start arriving in late August. 

Speaking of bulbs, check out this awesome combination I spotted at Sussex Prairies in England. That’s Astilbe ‘Purple Candles’ interplanted with drumstick Allium bulbs. And yes, we sell drumsticks in the fall. They are inexpensive and easy to pop in.  

With the regular rainfall, I am starting to see signs of fungus among us. Head it off at the pass with a preventative spray 

High humidity and regular rainfall can cause powdery mildew and other diseases. Check your plants and spot any problems early. We call that scouting. 

of BioSafe, a hydrogen peroxide solution that helps prevent fungus spores from germinating. It would be wise to do some open pruning on your tomatoes and spray them with BioSafe before you see any spotted leaves. Fungus can also affect squashes, pumpkins, bee balm, Phlox paniculata, and roses. Healthy, well fed plants are more resistant but the weather is usually the determining factor in CT. 

Wet weather also means an increase in slugs. Sprinkle Sluggo (iron phosphate) at the base of plants that are being eaten by these snails without shells that come out at night. I am also beetle hunting daily at home. I sneak out at dawn and at dusk and knock the Japanese beetles feeding on my raspberries and roses into a milk jug of water with canola oil in it. I am also squishing the red lily leaf beetles as my fragrant lilies are just about to open. Scouting for pests is critical. I walk my garden every day, keeping an eagle eye out for the earliest signs of problems. It also gives me the opportunity to relax and unwind. When you do that, it is amazing what you will see- hummingbirds, birds in nests, baby rabbits, and all the creatures that share your world. They may not realize it yet, but a lot of what I plant is all for THEM! And they are in Fashion now.

Stop in for a visit this week. Natureworks is simply teaming with life and overflowing with color. You will surely be inspired. Keep on planting….

See you soon…