Official summer is almost upon us. The weather will become hotter, the ground drier and panic will set in the hearts of some gardeners when they think of the upkeep in watering the garden! Will their well risk running dry this hot season? Will there be bans on watering? Will they ultimately lose precious plant material?
If you have native plants in your garden, then the answer is No! The native plants, if planted in the right ecological conditions will survive. They have had years of practice at surviving these harsh weather conditions that the New England area is so known for (some are even proud of it!)
After installing your beautiful, beneficial and hearty native plant, once it’s established (and this will require maybe a month of growing time) all you need to do is enjoy it! Speaking from experience, there have been more than enough times I have planted a gorgeous native plant (locating it in the proper soil and light conditions, of course) carefully setting it in its new home, lovingly mulched and watered it and then poor thing- forgot all about it!
As you know, life seems to pull us and our attentions in many different directions, snd the poor garden suffers. So, I forgot about the plant until it called out to me and finally attracted my attention by the beautiful blooms that it was waving about (It reminded me of the student in the back of the classroom practically standing in the chair while waving her hand to get the attention of the teacher¦). So I redirected my footsteps to take a minute and admire the new addition to the garden. Colorful, attractive, and getting along well with the other plants in the garden, it was simultaneously providing a nectar source for insects. Very impressive! But I had confidence in her anyway, yet was still, none the less, pleasantly surprised.
Note to self, Self, don’t forget to collect seeds in the fall from that one! She’s a beauty!
The Columbines are just going to seed, the Solomans Seal has finished its blooms, the spring ephemerals are starting to fade and yellow, I’ve already collected and have sown Marsh marigold seeds and Mitella seeds, and the Dicentra’s are going to seed also. Aside from the hot spell last week, the natural course of this plant palette screams that spring is over! Get ready for summer! The delicate soft green hues are turning deeper. The spring ephemerals that we so longed for, the ones that evoke the excitement like the birth of a new baby are now fading. Summer, with its heat, its intense solar glare, its dry ground and tough planting conditions needs some new recruits. The next wave of color is upon us!
My favorites for Summer fun and color are:
Gaillardia (Blanket flower) -Loves full sun with fairly average garden soils. Crazy colorful and fun blooms that remind me of a brightly lit carousel during the summer evening fair. Hummingbirds enjoy this plant as well!
Asclepias - Wow! There is a milkweed for every occasion. Just to name a few…The A. tuberosa is the bright orange one that is at home in fields and open meadows, loves well drained soil and is hard to miss when in bloom.
A. incarnata prefers moister soil conditions (hence the common name Swamp Milkweed) and A. syriaca, Common Milkweed, which is the only fragrant milkweed, tends to take over in a smaller garden, so prepare to have ample room for it so you don’t start a fight with it! The blooms last a fairly long time in a vase and I’ve read that the still fresh seed pods are edible. (Recipes anyone?)
AND did you know that Milkweeds are a MAJOR food source for monarch butterflies? Plant a few milkweeds and ultimately you will also be enjoying beautiful butterflies, colorful caterpillars, and if you’re lucky enough- camouflaged chrysalis.
Aruncus â€“ for the shade garden only. This plant can tolerate drier soils and throws out a huge white fluff of a flower that droops delicately long into the season. A great one for filling up a space because the plant grows 4ft tall by 3ft wide.
Campanula- Always more fun when you go through life with a campanula!
Ok, ok. But really! Hardy plants, bell shaped flowers, handles drought, some are petite and delicate and some bold. How can you not want one?
Lonicera sempervirens - A honey of a plant! This woody-stemmed vine flowers from mid-May until frost. And if the frost was not that bad, and there’s a warm spell - she’ll try to bloom a few more! Can handle sun to part shade and is a favorite with the hummingbirds!
Penstamon - This, like the Columbine, has such a delicate flower, yet the plant is very tough in the driest locations. Can handle full sun to part shade.
Veronicastrum - I’m pushing this one a bit. It doesn’t flower until late in the summer, but I always have enjoyed the leaf pattern. It has a sturdy stem with a whorled leaf that adds an intriguing texture to the garden. It will ultimately grow 3ft +, so give it room.
Hope you had a wonderful Spring and now time for some summer fun!