7/18/14: In the garden this week


It’s the lazy part of summer, when only the bees are busy in the garden. But there are always a few things you can do:

— we’re getting lots of rain, so there are lots of weeds. Keep weeding!

– keep newly installed perennials and woody plants well-watered throughout the growing season. The recommended amount is 1 inch per week during dry spells. We’ve been getting 1-2 inches of rain every week, there’s no need to water. Established plants should not need supplemental water.

prune woody plants as needed. From the plants’ point of view,this is a good time to prune: they have mostly finished growing, flowering, and fruiting, so they have energy to put into making scar tissue. So prune back shrubs or trees that have grown too large for their sites. The next pruning window will come after leaf drop in the fall.

– for better bloom next year, remove the flowers of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilacs and mountain laurel after they finish blooming. The exception, of course, is fruit-bearing shrubs such as native dogwoods and viburnums. And if you want to prune back fruiting shrubs or trees, wait until after the fruits have ripened and the birds have eaten them.

monitor the vegetable garden for pests and diseases and take action immediately. In particular, remove plants affected by borers and wilt, and hand-pick to keep pest populations low.

– now that tomato vines are ripening fruit, cut back to 1 inch of water per week. Remember to take rainfall amounts into account when determining how much to water. Water in the morning, and water deeply. Continue to stake and tie tomato plants and to remove suckers.

remove spring crops such as lettuce and peas and replant with quick growers (greens, beets, carrots) in their place. Keep picking squash and cucumbers and beans. Most vegetables taste better young.

perennials should need no care except pinching to promote bushy plants and keep plants short when necessary

lawns do not need watering because we’ve had ample rain, and they need no fertilizer until early fall, if then. Mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the grass. Remember that the more you water, the more you’ll have to mow.




Garden renewal


This spring, I did a lot of renovation in my perennial beds. Two very tall and enthusiastic plants, Rudbeckia subtomentosa and Monarda fistulosa, had spread into the fronts of the beds, shading out smaller plants. I dug out and gave away what amounted to hundreds of plants and replanted the fronts of the beds with a variety of lower-growing grasses and perennials. In this post, I’ll show you some of the new plants; most are now in bloom.

The photo above shows a spot that was completely replanted this spring, except for the existing little bluestem grasses that frame it on either side. There are sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa [yellow, left]), orange butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum [white, left]), dotted mint (Monarda punctata [white, right]), and lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata [yellow, right]), and other things that haven’t bloomed yet. Look carefully on the right and you’ll see nodding pink onion (Allium cernuum) full of buds. I’m very pleased with this arrangement of new and established plants.

_DSC6449 Here’s a better view of the dotted mint in a different perennial bed. Behind it you’ll see another new addition, a hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) that’s now showing buds. It will replace the blue/purple of the monarda, which is almost finished blooming.


And in yet another bed, here’s lovely light purple wild petunia (Ruellia humilis), another low-growing lover of dry soil. This is a plant that you have to hide from the rabbits. Some years they find almost all of it; other years, like this one, it blooms for months.

Why is this year different from other years? Look for an upcoming post about short-term changes in the native plant garden.