garden with confidence through fall
By Mike Sikes, Horticulturist, Gardener’s Confidence Collection
Late summer in the garden can sometimes be oppressive. Extreme heat and humidity can drive the gardener inside. Periods of drought can make one shut off the hose and give up. It doesn’t have to be that way. A garden can have color, form, and texture throughout the year.
And with a little planning, late summer color can be a breeze. Grab a gardening book or log onto one of a myriad gardening “how to” sites to create a well-timed, well-thought out garden that will provide plenty of show for your outdoor parties, cookouts, and celebrations.
To find specific plant varieties that can bear the heat of summer and still look their best, look, for example, to the Gardener’s Confidence Collection, a group of plants that is bred to have attributes of easy care, disease resistance, prolific blooms, beautiful foliage, and interesting forms. Several of its varieties provide late summer interest.
One of the newest plants in the collection, the Red Rooster, is an attractive mid-sized (8-ft.-10-ft.) red crape myrtle. The disease resistant foliage starts as a maroon-red in spring and transitions into a dark green. In late summer, the brilliant red flowers thrive in the heat and humidity. It is perfect to use as a specimen or grouping in any size garden. Deadheading, or removing the spent flowers, will encourage reblooming well into fall. And once established, Red Rooster is very drought tolerant.
If you are looking for a smaller sized crape myrtle for your garden, the Razzle Dazzle dwarf crape myrtle series looks terrific in summer. They explode into bloom in summer and linger into fall, extending color throughout the seasons. The compact forms (3-ft.-5-ft.) are drought tolerant and excellent in a low maintenance garden. They also work well in containers for porch, patio and pool plantings. Varieties such as Cherry Dazzle, Berry Dazzle, and Strawberry Dazzle even sound cooling and refreshing.
Couple the Strawberry Dazzle with the Chapel Hill lantana, asparagus fern, and Joseph’s Coat in your favorite container for a beautiful array of colors and textures.
And what’s more soothing in the heat than the stark white of a fresh snowfall in summer? The Pinwheel gardenia can add a flurry of whimsical snow-white fragrant blooms to your garden. This exceptionally cold hardy variety (to zone 6) flowers from late spring through fall. The glossy evergreen foliage provides year-round interest, and because it repeats bloom, the pinwheel-shaped flowers make a wonderful cut flower to enjoy in the home. Its smaller size, 4′ by 4′, makes it great for any size garden.
The Pinwheel Gardenia looks scrumptious with the Dragon Wing Begonia, Creeping Jenny, Pennisetum Princess, and Purple Fountain Grass.
Don’t forget the star of the summer garden, the hydrangea. Their big, bold blossoms of blue are cooling in the summer heat, sort of like diving into a refreshing swimming pool. Many older varieties of hydrangeas only bloom once a year and only then if they didn’t get frozen during the winter. However, the new repeat flowering Mini Penny extends the blooming season into the fall. Its smaller size and repeat blooms makes it ideal for containers. Cut the blossoms for instant bouquets because this hydrangea will soon be blooming again.
Add to your garden a sprinkle of gerber daisies, wire vine, Veronica and Dragon Wing begonia for a combination as vividly bright as holiday fireworks.
To help you find plants that provide the color and vibrance of summer that are just right for your garden, check out Gardener’s Confidence Collection at www.gardenersconfidence.com. n
Editor’s Note: Barbara Wise, floriculture director with Southern Land Company, LLC, brings her gardening expertise and experience to readers of House & Home & Garden™. You can now read more of Barbara’s plant musings at bwisegardening.com or follow on twitter@bwisegardens. E-mail your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.