Thursday, July 2, 2009

hot colors for summer

Get comfortable, the forecast for the next couple of months can be summed up with the following chorus: Highs in the 90s. Lows in the 70s. Chance of an afternoon thunderstorm.

As heat seems to become all that we have known, color becomes valued even more. Unlike June, when white Shasta daisy, purple irises, and orange daylilies gave some range to my yard and garden’s color wheel—now I’ve got to work harder to keep the constant bank of yellow black eyed susans from being the dominant feature of my perennial border- and given how they self-sow that can be a challenge.

The most common ornamentals around here don’t peak in the hottest part of summer because most folks aren’t buying plant material then. But if you take notes and shop wisely you can plan for some great flowers well into the dog days of summer and before the autumn weather freshens everything up a bit. Stokes' Aster, Blazing Star, Blackberry Lily, ….why don’t we see these in the nursery sections of the retail palaces? Because they are just plain green crowns of new leaves in May. Take a gamble on these if you can find them, they look great in July. Ask your local farm and garden shop to stock them if they don’t already.

The photo (upper right) is of my Texas star hibiscus. I noticed it had begun to show off its fireworks for the first time this morning. This is a native perennial even though it looks like it could come from Costa Rica. Besides great blooms, it has hemp shaped leaves that will turn heads. It is a fun plant if you have a sunny and moist spot under a drain-spout or in a ditch. If you do not have those site requirements in your garden, put it in a pot and plug the drainage hole.

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