Dependable Summer Plants

And They Don’t Require Much Care

The heat and humidity are here.  In mid-summer heat I do my garden chores from shade to shade, trying to stay away from the sun.  The lovely times in the garden in mid summer are the morning and early evening.  The cool of the morning makes the mixed flower scents very pronounced, especially the Garden phlox and jasmine.  It’s very soothing.  I water the vegetable garden and the potted tropical plants every morning when it’s still cool.  Water evaporates less and will dry up in the sunlight soon enough as not to encourage any disease.  The sweet scent of Bitter melon fills the vegetable garden air now.  The second flush of roses also adds fragrance to the air though not as strong as in early summer when the majority of bushes were filled with flowers.  Even when I don’t have to water them, I still go out in the garden every morning just to breathe the scent that no perfumery can duplicate.  I do the same in the evening when I get home from work.

I hardly water the flowers in the garden now but they are still doing well in the heat.  Most of them are self-sown and I let them grow freely.  Once in a while I either move or thin some of them to prevent diseases due to over-crowding.  The plants posted below are care free, self-reliant, great for pollinators and dependable in bringing colors to the garden in the heat of summer.

Anise hyssop
Anise hyssop

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is actually an herb.  I grow this for the bees but it’s also good for making tea and potpourri as well.  I have a few patches of them, two by the vegetable garden entrance that a send out licorice scent every time I brush against them.

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan

This double Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is a product of open pollination.  I’ve never bought any double flower version but I let the seedlings grow and this is the result.  Some of them look even more like chrysanthemums with smaller petals.

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan
Daylily
Daylily
Beebalm
Beebalm
Echinacea
Echinacea
Garden Phlox
Garden Phlox
Queen Anne's lace
Queen Anne’s lace

Many people regard Queen Anne’s lace (Anthriscus sylvestris) as a weed but I love them.  When they grow in a row or large clump, they look so beautiful and delicate.  They are also great for insects and bees.

 

Flowers For Bees (Continued)

Summer Flowers

Summer flowers in our garden are easy to grow and most of them are drought tolerant.  Having a full time job I have to be practical about what I plant in the garden.  I water the vegetable garden regularly since most of the vegetables don’t do well without constant care.  The opposite goes for the rest of the garden.  Most of them are doing fine being left alone.  I weed, prune and feed them when I have time.

So, summer flowers for bees are the ones that will bloom even when neglected.  Here’s some of what I grow..

This lady goes from flower to flower, non-stop
This lady goes from flower to flower, non-stop

Black-eyed susan ‘Gold Sturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii ‘Gold sturm’) helps brighten up the garden even when everything else wilts.  Bees and butterflies love them.  The seed buds become finch food. It is also much more compact and mildew resistant than other varieties.

I need air traffic control on the Butterfly bush
I need air traffic control on the Butterfly bush

Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) lives up to its name; it draws butterflies in like moths to a light.  It has a lovely sweet fragrance.  The down side is that it’s very invasive if you let the flowers set seeds.

Honey bee and bumblebee sharing nectar on an Echinacea
Honey bee and bumblebee sharing nectar on an Echinacea

I should have classified Echinacea under herbs since it has herbal properties.  This one is a native that will grow wherever the seeds drop.  The birds also like the seeds.

A good day for this honey bee since no wasps are not around yet
A good day for this honey bee since no wasps are not around yet

Well, a lot of people see this Goldenrod (Solidago) as a weed but I found the bright yellow flowers really beautiful.  It can take care of itself even along side the road where nothing else would grow.

Summersweet ranks right up there with the Butterfly bush
Summersweet ranks right up there with the Butterfly bush

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is another flower that lives up to its name.  The fragrance is sweet to the point of intoxication when enough of them bloom at the same time.  The white one above is called ‘Vanilla spice’ the pink one below is ‘ Ruby spice’.

Here, they're sharing again.
Here, they’re sharing again.
She goes from flower to flower
She goes from flower to flower

I grouped a variety of zinnia together this year and they came out really nice.  I also planted them where they can get full sun all day long.  That helps the flowers to stay longer and suffer far less mildew on the leaves.

Garden Phlox

A Tough Native (or phloxing around for fun)

Heat and rainstorm can’t do very much damage to this native perennial.  Once they’re established I merely prune them in spring so they won’t grow too tall and ‘dead-head’ them once the flower’s spent.

I started growing Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) with just a couple of them.  Within a few years they proliferated all over the garden.  They readily self-sow.  If you don’t want too many of them, just don’t let them set seeds.  My problem is I have a soft heart with seedlings.  I think if it has a will to live why not let it live.   This mentality can be a problem for the garden; it can become overcrowded very quickly.   So I promise myself I’ll pull out some seedlings that are still “very young”.  This method works pretty well with population control and I feel less guilty too, but I probably miss a few good surprises from Mother Nature.

Seedlings don’t always look exactly like their parents, especially given open pollination.  I let the Garden Phlox grow wherever they come up, if not too close to any established plants. I tag them, according to color, once they flower.    Later, I either remove them if I already have too many of that color or if they have an interesting color, I move them to a better spot.    If I want more of the same color, I’ll just divide them.

Why is Garden Phlox good to grow?  Because they perform well in the heat of summer when most plants, aside from cactus, don’t.  If they’re not too tall, they’ll flop a little under a rain storm but will perk right up once dry.  They readily self-sow, so they can be invasive, but with a little discipline in the gardener, they’re easy to control.   The only disease that bothers them is mildew, but if they’re dry and not too crowded mildew shouldn’t be a problem.  They work beautifully as cut flowers.

And, most of all, they’re fragrant.  Their scent welcomes you from morning to evening.  Butterflies and bees love them.  Deer love them too, especially the tips.

Here are some that have weathered the heat and rain

In spring I prune the row along the walkway once they grow up to my waist.  This pruning makes them bushier and delays the flowering a little bit.  I let the ones on the left, squeezed in with Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), grow to their normal height (around 4 to 5 feet) to balance with other plants in the same row and to cover the pool fence.

Lavender pink with a darker colored eyelet
Pale pink with a darker shade around the eyelet.
“David” produces pure white flowers. This is the only one that I know the name of.
This fuchsia color first showed up two years ago and since then I have nurtured three new plants from this one.
A little bit darker pink with dark eyelet among lavender pink flowers
White petals with streaks of pink
Orange-red. This one really stands out in the plot.

Summer Garden

Tough Guys All, They Stand Up to the Heat

It’s been around 90 degrees and no rain in sight.  I have to water the vegetable garden daily but only once or twice a week for the rest of the garden.  The flower plot along the driveway doesn’t get any water at all.  I let mother nature take care of them.  Most of them are self-sown and they weather the heat pretty well.  Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia), Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), and Coreopsis don’t seem to mind the heat and drought.  Actually, the variety of Echinacea in the garden are doing well when it’s so dry like this.  No flopping and no mildewing.  The only problem is they’re getting too crowded.  I’ll have to weed some of them out next spring.

Garden Phlox, Echinacea, Coreopsis, Bee balm along the driveway. They’re all self-sown.
Echinacea and Rudbeckia along the driveway.
Bee balm and Rugosa rose “Mrs. Doreen Pike” still bloom under the heat.
Don’t underestimate this little Coreopsis, it will grow even in a little crack in the walkway.
Echinacea “Sun Rise” really stands up to the sun.

Drought Tolerant Flowers

Don’t need much care and yet still lovely.

Finally the rains came, tempest mostly.  We don’t seem to have normal rain any more.  It’s either no rain or it’s pouring cats and dogs.  It doesn’t really matter what type sky juice come down  – drizzle, rain, shower or thunder storm – it’s better than a drought. The heat wave we had in our area last month subsided to just a high humidity. Trees and flowers in our garden seem to be able to take a deep breath again after having held their their breath through temperatures exceeding 90 degrees with not a drop of rain in anywhere.  Just standing outside in the shade brought rivulets of perspiration down my skin. The vegetables didn’t seem to care very much since they had the privilege of having someone water them daily and without fail.

Droughts are a good test for flowers.  We don’t want to grow flowers that need too much care and watering since we use well water here.  We love roses.  They only need a lot of water during the first couple of years until their root structure is established.  Then, if they are well mulched, they will be fine, especially the Rosa Rugosa.   Aside from the roses, most of the flowers we put in the ground are either native species or drought tolerant.

Mostly self-sown and still happy during drought.

Most of the flowers in the front yard are self-sown or plants that can last for months on moisture they can pull from their surroundings. I let Echanecia, Rudbeckia, Garden Phlox and Coreopsis grow freely.  I only have to weed out the seedlings when they get too crowded.  They still happily produce abundant flowers during high temperatures and last month’s drought.  Since they have such a will to live, we support and nurture them a little by providing them with good compost once a year.