6/21/13: In the garden this week

Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) began to bloom this week.

Happy summer! Or if, like me, you belong to the minority of people who dislike hot weather, I wish you a cool summer.

My perennials gardens turn pink in late June. Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa, shown above), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), and queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra) turn the garden various shades of pink, from cotton candy to subtle mauve. They are enlivened by the brilliant orange of butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) and the subtle whites of wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) and Culver’s root (Vernoniscastrum virginicum). And within the next week, the first of the rudbeckias, orange coneflower (R. fulgida) will begin to bloom, and it won’t stop until September.

It’s time to shift from spring to summer mode in the garden. Spring is the time to do–to move, to dig, to plant, to weed–but summer is the time to enjoy the fruits of all that labor. There’s much less to do. It’s time to stop transplanting and start making plans for next year:

– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. There is no need to fertilize or water. As the weather heats up, the grass wants to go dormant, so let it.

— start to collect perennial seeds: columbine, heuchera, and other spring bloomers are ripening seeds, even as they continue to bloom

– if you have not already done so, pull out early spring greens, such as arugula, spinach,  and lettuce; pull out pea plants after they finish producing; compost all these plants unless they are diseased

– continue to plant beans, kale, chard, and other members of the brassica clan if you have room; harvest peas, young squash, and beans before they get large and tough

– continue to stake tomato plants firmly and remove all suckers

– monitor the vegetable garden carefully for pests and diseases

Enjoy the first weekend of summer.

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