Summer Two Ways

Summer Two Ways

This week the crops in our summer gardens are jumping for joy. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, corn and so many of the food that we grow in our edible gardens are tropicals. They LOVE and NEED the heat. I bet you will

Monday’s dinner harvested minutes before preparing it. The veggies are thrilled with this week’s weather! Watch them double in size before your eyes.

see your plants double in size this week. Many flowers are also pretty darn happy right now. Sunflowers are opening and being visited by bees covered in pollen. Zinnias- well they just don’t budge until it warms up. Tropical houseplants now think they are living in the Carribean. Summer perennials and flowering shrubs such as Allium ‘Millenium’, daylilies, and butterfly bushes are bursting with color. My rose of Sharon and my mimosa tree are both starting to bloom. This, my friends, is what the garden needs right now.

 Did you know that all of the annuals above do well in shade? Shade is your friend right now. Make your shady garden glow with fresh color.
The OTHER approach to summer is to embrace shade gardening. That is the best way to beat the heat in the middle of the day. And that is exactly why we are offering a shade gardening workshop this Sunday. Natureworker Jessica (who was featured in our container planter throwdown on Facebook Live a few weeks ago) will teach you How to Design a Beautiful Shade Garden. Click Here to register. The very reasonable $10 fee includes 10% off any shade plants that you purchase that day after class and popsicles and lemon water for a refreshing snack.
Zinnias are just one of the fresh cut flowers that we will be harvesting and arranging this Saturday.
This Saturday morning, I am teaching one of my favorite summer workshops:Growing and Harvesting Fresh and Dried Cut Flowers. At the end of the class,

one of the students will win the arrangement in a vintage vase that I will make in class. We have done this in the past with only fresh flowers. Now, we are adding how to harvest and dry flowers into the mix. Diane’s daughter and her friends dropped into Natureworks this week, and despite all the succulents and fun gifts, all they wanted to talk about and buy was our dried flowers hanging from the rafters! Who knew? We are just so groovy with the teenagers… Of course, I will be harvesting both from the Natureworks gardens and my own home gardens for this class. Click Here to register.

Pretty pink strawflowers can be used as fresh flowers or hung to dry for fall arrangements. The pollinators love them.
Watering is the most important thing that you can get right during the

Stress-X powder is easy to use. You mix up a 4 oz. concentrate and then use a hose end sprayer at a mere 1 tbsp. per gallon rate. That little packet goes a LONG way!

month of July. Last Thursday’s Facebook Live video was all about watering and foliar feeding with Stress X to help your garden when it is hot and humid. Since then, Diane and I have made a short YouTube video demonstrating watering techniques. It’s all about HOW you water. Deep soak less often, make those roots go deep into the ground. That way they are much less susceptible to the heat. Click Here to link to the Natureworks YouTube channel so you can watch our “Watering the Summer Garden” video. This is important!

What’s next? After I harvest my garlic, I will have yet ANOTHER empty raised bed to fill with fall crops.
In the article below, I deal with the questions of What’s Next? When I arrived at work today, Amber and I discussed what we were going to plant in our garlic beds once the garlic has been harvested. She pulled hers over the weekend. I am harvesting mine this week. I will be planting climbing pole beans. We went over all the options. Many of you are in the same place. We’ve got the answers! Just scroll down and keep on planting…
I learned about this unusual succulent Dyckia x ‘Cherry Coke’ at a geeky plant talk this winter. It really is neat!
Succulents and tropicals are another way to have amazing planters that don’t mind the summer weather. Shown above is a really cool planter filled with Dyckia, Rhipsalis, other succulents. This will be be brought in the house for the winter but would look great on a front porch or deck.

I summer my tropical houseplants outside on my deck every year. They surround our seating area and add a lush effect under the wisteria arbor. This year, I made it a priority to stock lots of unusual tropical plants for Natureworks to sell as I really want to turn more people on to this age old tradition. Shown above is the gorgeous, yellow and green striped Sanchezia and the frosty silvery foliage of an angel wing begonia. We will, of course, be teaching you how to repot them and acclimate them to come back inside in late September. Grow your indoor plant collection THIS SUMMER!

Of course, with July comes the arrival of the monarchs in great numbers. At

See how tiny the baby monarch caterpillars are?

Natureworks, at my house, at Diane’s house, at Amber’s house, pretty much everywhere we go we see them. This is monarch mating season. I sat on my deck with a friend on Sunday and watched one lay her eggs on the milkweed and promptly collected the eggs. I found lots of teeny tiny baby caterpillars by spotting the “C” shaped holes and turning over the leaves. Our Monarch Raising Department is fully stocked and we are here and happy to teach you how to do it. In fact, we have a class Learn to Raise Monarch Butterflies workshop this Thursday, July 18th at 11am! See info below to register or call Thursday morning to see if there is room. As I write this email, we have a bunch of spots available still!

We ONLY bring in eggs and tiny caterpillars. The larger caterpillars are left outside as they may have been infected with a parasitic wasp. Why do we go to all of this trouble to raise them? One or two out of 100 eggs actually becomes a butterfly. By doing this work AND by practicing organic gardening methods AND by growing, selling, and teaching everyone to plant milkweed and other forms of Asclepias, we are helping this beautiful butterfly have a chance at thriving once again in our world. Come in with your children, grandchildren, and friends. Everyone who witnesses what we are doing is fascinated. Currently, we have about 100 munching away in the shop!

Of course, it isn’t just about the larval food plants for our butterflies. We must also provide a non-stop supply of nectar flowers for butterflies and pollinators. That is easy to do! This week we are overflowing with Echinaceas, Phlox, Verbena, and so many more important plants that they need and love.

Here are IMPORTANT WORDS OF WISDOM FROM DIANE re: The Lawn
Do NOT mow your lawn this week! Even if it rains this week, it is supposed to be quite hot for days after. Leave the grass alone. It is stressed! If you mow it, you will cut off any green that is there and it will turn brown and won’t regrow until cooler temps and rains return. Walk away. Sit in the shade. Watch the butterflies. Have a cool drink. Chill. Be kind to your organic lawn and it will reward you. Trust Diane. My husband does. She is his organic lawn guru.
If you want to make your organic lawn VERY happy, foliar feed it with Stress X. This dehydrated liquid seaweed (kelp powder) comes in a handy-dandy, inexpensive little packet that makes a concentrate that will foliar feed your lawn and your gardens. Seaweed makes the feeder roots grow and the feeder roots do all the work of absorbing nutrients and water. It has been a long-time summer tradition to do this for all of the plants in the gardens and on the benches at Natureworks.
Feeding, watering, collecting monarch eggs, a bit of grooming, and planning the next round of fall veggies- this is a good week to settle into a summer routine. I get up at the crack of dawn when it is very cool and the birds are singing so loudly that I can barely believe it’s not a soundtrack coming over my outdoor speakers. I go out after supper and putter around, picking at my plants, filling a basket with fresh blueberries and raspberries. It is the time of year we wait for and long for when the winter winds are blowing and there is not a colorful flower to be found outside. Soak it up folks. Enjoy every single minute of summer. And come for a visit this week to get inspired… we have air conditioning and cool water ready for you after touring the gardens and picking out a couple new plants.
See you soon…
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Have you discovered our sale bench yet?
P.S.
We now have a 50% off sale bench that is restocked regularly. Most of the plants are simply past bloom or need repotting or planting. It’s located over by the teaching tent, directly across from the herb department.