11 Jul Summer Is…
Summer is truly here in all its glory. In my world, we call this time of year “high summer” because the sun is high in the sky. I just got back from a delightful 6 day Staycation. I got into a nice routine of gardening in the morning, lunch, power nap, dinner, early to bed, up again to garden… It was so nice to finally catch up on my planting, weeding, and pruning. My gardens are truly my happy place and to be able to have a prolonged stretch of time to care for them was pure bliss.
My blueberry bushes are absolutely hanging to the ground with delicious fruit. These native shrubs are so easy to grow. It is a tradition to invite the neighbors over to pick blueberries, and I did, over the long holiday weekend. They filled buckets and didn’t even make a dent!
Having the time to hang out in the yard enabled me to really watch the life that is happening there. So many bees! On the left is our native shrub buttonbush (Cephalanthus). Its comical orb-shaped flowers opened a few days ago and they are attracting pollinators and butterflies. When I returned to Natureworks this morning, I was happy to see that we have plenty of this great summer blooming shrub in stock- both the variety ‘Magical Moonlight’ and ‘Sugar Shack’, a dwarf with insanely gorgeous fall foliage.
I planted a ton of natives in my yard in the past week. I am on a mission, after seeing Doug Tallamy speak and spending time with him, to continue to add as many native perennials and shrubs as possible. I added both black and red chokeberries (Aronia), dwarf Clethra ‘Hummingbird’, Zizia aurea, Monarda fistulosa, Aster umbellatus, and Aruncus diocus. What do these all have in common? They are ideal for my heavy, clay soil. Did I ONLY plant natives while I was home? NO! I also planted more zinnias, cosmos, and calendulas to up the flower power in my veggie beds.
I also did quite a bit of deadheading, cutting back, and pruning. How would you like a personal lesson in how to do this important grooming and pruning in July? Well, this Saturday, we are having a workshop in our teaching tent on just that subject- it’s called The Great Summer Cutback. You don’t just chop off the entire top of a rose- you open prune it after the first flush of bloom. It’s time to cut back your bearded irises and clean them out. Learn how to be brave and chop back
plants instead of picking at them. Plants like Nepetas (and many others) will grow right back. Deadheading is really an art form. If you do it right, the plant will not only look great but many will rebloom. Did you know you should be chopping back cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) in July? The class is at 10 am, we are limiting the number of people so everyone can see what I am doing and ask questions. To register, Click Here.
The other thing I did over the long weekend was to FEED my tomatoes, peppers, and container plantings. It is SO important to feed annuals and vegetables regularly. Diane made a short video showing how she feeds with Neptune’s Harvest Tomato and Vegetable liquid fertilizer. Click Here to watch it. I added Healthy Grow granular organic fertilizer around my tomatoes, deep soaked them individually with the hose on trickle, then pruned them and added shredded straw. Before I covered the soil I sprayed the base of the plants and the soil with Monterey Disease Control, an all natural disease preventative. I REALLY open pruned my plants, and staked them so the branches had plenty of air flowing through them.
The before pruning shot is on the left,after pruningis on the right. Every year I get early and late blight on my tomatoes. I am trying really hard to give them a good start as they are suddenly growing like crazy. Air circulation, preventative disease control, and keeping the leaves away from the soil are the way to go. Fungus spores splash up from the ground. Don’t let that happen to your tomatoes this year. And NEVER water from above.
For some people, returning to work after a long weekend is a drag. For me, it is exciting. I was thrilled to see the garden center so well kept, with tons of fresh color on the benches. The gardens, well they are simply exploding with color. We LOVE it when folks get lost in our gardens. They are there to enjoy and to teach you. When you visit, feel free to stroll. Grab a Natureworker and ask them questions. Take all the pictures you want and please be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram if you post them to social media.
The hottest selling genus of plants in July continues to be Asclepias. So much so, in fact, that we have lots of new plants arriving to restock our benches this week. I did some monarch egg hunting at home and brought a bucket of eggs and teeny-tiny caterpillars into our monarch nursery in the kitchen. Male and female monarch butterflies were
flying all around my yard and they were also flying all around Natureworks this morning as I walked around to get reacquainted with what’s new. These two months of summer ahead of us are the months when the monarchs mate and lay eggs. We bring them in to raise them when we find them because 1 or 2 out of every every 100 eggs actually makes it into a butterfly. Next Thursday, July 18th, Diane will be teaching another class on Learning to Raise Monarchs. If you are interested, Click Here and register. Class limit is 15 students.
If you don’t want to add common milkweed to your yard because you are afraid it will take over your gardens, there are so many options. I love Asclepias incarnata, also called swamp milkweed. Shown on the left is the pure white variety called ‘Ice Ballet’. As you can see, not only is it the larval food plant for monarchs to lay their eggs on, it is also a fabulous nectar flower.
This week, we are restocking our benches with fresh crops of marigolds, zinnias, calendulas as well as BASIL. My Genovese basil got downy mildew from being rained on for weeks and weeks. I will grab some of these new plants and put them in clay pots in full sun, far away from where the other basil was planted. I will also plant a couple of clay pots with basil seed for later in the summer. We also just got in fresh crops of dill, cilantro, lemon verbena, nasturtiums, and other great herbs.
Lots of fresh color is also arriving to fill up our perennial benches. Summer is the time for Coreopsis, and this new pink variety shown above is really a stunner. Red, pale yellow, golden yellow, and white threadleaf Coreopsis is also blooming right now.
Summer is the time for Phlox paniculata to burst into bloom. Liatris is also starting now. We stock many varieties including the dwarf, very long blooming Liatris microcephala and the many taller varieties that work so well weaving in among Echinaceas in the border. Summer is the time for Crocosmia and all kinds of bee balms, as they are a favorite of the hummingbirds that are so active in
July and August. Summer means Veronicas and Germander (Teucrium, a great herbal hedge plant), Solidago ‘Sweety’, the soft, creamy yellow dwarf clumping native goldenrod. And let’s not forget the daylilies, which, in my front yard, are the star of the show right now. In the shadier places, late astilbes are starting up, so is Ceratostigma, a perennial groundcover with cobalt blue flowers. Corydalis lutea continues to flower, and many of the Cimicifugas are budding up. Summer is prime time for hosta foliage to shine.
Of course, there’s always succulents and cacti to enchant you. We have just restocked the plants in our shop, and Amber is potting them up into the cutest containers.
Have you signed up for any of our Grow Organic Kids workshops yet? They
are so much fun! This Thursday, Susan will be reading and talking about the book On Meadowview Street, all about a little girl who convinced her parents to let wild flowers grow in the lawn. Susan will then bring the kids into our gardens to explore and see what flowers and insects they can find. Click Here to register.
So it’s high summer and it’s a beautiful week to enjoy living life outdoors. These are the days we wait for. Waking up early to birdsong, staying out late watching the lightening bugs. Eating fresh from the garden. Filling vases with bouquets. Sharing the bounty of the plants you have been nurturing and sharing your love of the natural world with children, neighbors, and friends.
We can’t wait to share our beautiful gardens and plants with you!
See you soon…
ROSES ARE ON SALE FOR ONE MORE WEEK, through July 17th! 30% off!