Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Midsummer Makeover

By midsummer most of your garden is usually looking pretty good. Your perennials are growing and the annuals you planted are blooming like mad. Yes all is doing well except for that one planting bed. Now what can you do about that one bed? Just because the calendar says it’s the middle of summer doesn’t mean it is too late to rejuvenate a flowerbed. Here are a few ideas to perk up a lackluster perennial border.

1. Size It Up- Take a good look and see what you can salvage in the bed.
2. GO “Sale-ing”- Take advantage of late-season plant sales at garden centers and pick up perennials for a lot less than you’d play in the middle of May. Buy a few annuals like begonia to fill in the gaps around the perennials while they are small. I also like to sow seeds of fast-growing annuals like zinnias, cosmos, or celosia.( I can often harvest these seeds from flowers that bloomed earlier in the season.) Next year the perennials will be larger and you won’t need to fill in with as many annuals.
3. Dig In- Summer heat and drought can be hard on young plants. Don’t skimp on preparing the planting holes for the new plants. Add moisture crystals if your area is especially hot and dry and don’t forget to add 2-3” of mulch to help hold moisture and cut down on how often you need to water.
4. Spot Some Pots- Container plants are often in their peak by midsummer. Place a few colorful pots among the plants to quickly fill in thin areas. A pot of coleus can add some texture and color to a bed. Other plants that look great in containers in late summer are dahlias, sedums, and asters.
5. Add A Personal Touch- Finally, don’t forget to include some hardscaping or a piece of garden art to personalize your bed. Whether bold or subtle, art should accent your plants not overpower them. Make sure they are sturdy enough to withstand summer wind and rain with out toppling over into the plants.

Midsummer plants: Aster, Blanket flower, Celosia, Coleus, Cosmos, Dahlia, Phlox, Purple Heart, Sedum and Zinnia.

For more heat tolerant plants check out: “Some Like It Hot” Flowers That Thrive in Hot Humid Weather by P.J. Gartin, “Tough Plants for Southern Gardens” by Felder Rushing and “The Carolinas Gardener’s Guide” by Toby Bost & Jim Wilson

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