Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August Blooms in the Garden

Well, by mistake I published this post early on Blogger before I actually finished it; thought I hit cancel, but oh well, here's the updated version.

Mid-summer doldrums? I think that's what I might have. That time of summer when I really don't feel like getting out there and weeding and deadheading, but I know I should. We've been lucky in that it hasn't been too hot here. We've had a few warm days, but nothing intolerable. Nice days for doing gardening work (if you feel like doing it). But even if I only get out there for 20 minutes I can pull some weeds and deadhead the flowers. I keep trying to talk myself into it-

It's still important to weed this time of year because the weeds are taking water and valuable resources like minerals from your soil that your plants can use. When you weed now, you're preventing those weeds from forming seeds and multiplying in your garden.

Japanese Irises (bloom later than tall-bearded irises)

This is a good time to cut back some of your perennials that are dying back, like the bleeding hearts. I already started cutting some of them back that have turned yellow.

It's important also, to keep any newly planted tree, shrub or perennial watered. This time of year it can get pretty dry. Also, your container planters might have to be watered once a day if they dry out from wind and heat. You don't need to water your grass if it turns brown. It is just going dormant. When things cool down and it starts raining again it will continue to flourish.

Give your containers and annuals some liquid fertilizer if you haven't done so recently.

Japanese Iris

You can cut back some of your annuals (like petunias) if they are starting to get leggy. Daylilies that are finished blooming, and irises can be divided now. If you missed my blog post last year on dividing perennials here is the link to it: Dividing Perennials.

Shrub: Spirea japonica "Shirobana'
Prune back summer flowering shrubs when they have finished flowering and the flowers fade.

Close up of Spirea japonica "Shirobana'. I love all the colors on this shrub.

Some of my daylilies have finished blooming, but some of the later ones will continue to bloom for a few more weeks. Because our growing season is so short the re-blooming daylilies and irises are not dependable for a second bloom (other than the Stella D'Oro daylilies).

Bee Balm (otherwise known as Oswego Tea or Monarda)

Bee Balm (otherwise known as Monarda or Oswego Tea): my son used to call these perennials fire-cracker flowers! And sometimes they bloom early around the 4th of July. They can be aggressive in your gardens so be careful where you plant them. Last year I purchased two dwarf varieties of Bee Balm and they both came up this year. I planted one in a small rock garden, and the other one I planted with some miniature hostas. More info on Bee Balm

One of my favorite perennials is the Ligularia- The Rocket, photographed below. It adds some height to the gardens and structure. They have large, deep-lobed leaves. This plant does best planted in an area that receives some sun (I found that morning sun is best), and is moist. The plant will collapse if it dries out from too much sun or heat. I read where this plant does fine in shade, so when I first purchased it I planted it in the shade. Well, it was growing kind of slow, and the flowers weren't very tall. So last year my husband dug it up and divided it up into three divisions and re-planted it in areas that received more sun. The results were a great improvement. They are doing wonderful in their new sites.

Ligularia: The Rocket

Close-up: Ligularia: The Rocket

Hosta: Paradigm

"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun."
~Kent Nerburn

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  1. Beautiful flowers blooming in your garden Sue...I know I should weed and do some maintenance but I just can't get there yet...I am terrible with maintenance as every summer I had to I can't garden as much as I'd like. Oh well the garden will survive.

    1. Thank you, Donna. I have good intentions when it comes to weeding, but then I can think of other gardening chores that easily side-track me. It's almost like the end of summer is around the corner so why bother trying to keep up with the weeds. And really it's not too bad as long as it's not too hot and the mosquitoes aren't biting.

    2. I'm with you guys! Glad I'm not the only one who's been experiencing some summer gardening blahs. It's so hard to make myself get out there and weed when there are so many other things I could be doing, both in the garden and elsewhere.

    3. I have a lot of hobbies and gardening is just one of them. I found that if I don't get around to some serious weeding in August, I usually get back at it in September when I'm trimming the perennials back and the weather has cooled off. Of course this year, our August feels like September, but I still don't feel like weeding. hahaha

  2. Oh, I am in the doldrums too. The garden is not calling me for some reason. Your flowers look great, especially those iris. I should add some sometime. I think summer has me worn out even though is has been wetter and cooler than previous years. Recharging in Maine in September which should make a difference.

    1. Thanks, Donna. The Japanese Irises are nice because they bloom later than the tall bearded irises. I've made the mistake before of cutting the Japanese bloom stalks down after the first blooms. I had no idea they keep producing blooms on the stalks for several weeks. I just found that out this year when I didn't get around to cutting them back right away. I guess sometimes laziness pays off. Also, I had a few of them that never flowered this year. Could be they didn't get enough sun.
      Anytime you can get away for awhile does help and when you get back it gives you a fresh outlook on what needs to be done in the gardens. That should be a beautiful time to visit Maine!

  3. Beautiful blog - I was thinking the Hosta 'Paradigm'
    should be called "Corn on the cob" Hosta! I love Bee Balm...mine never do great, though....not enough sun. Sue, we never had many slugs this year.....and a lot of moles/voles/ about you? My large Hostas are still intact....amazing!

    1. Thanks Ann. That Hosta 'Paradigm' is really beautiful and holds ups well in the sun and against slugs.
      I've had some bee balm that died out on me. It was a hot pink color, but I think it crowded out by one of my aggressive ground covers. My bee balms do not get a lot of sun, but I found they do better if they don't completely dry out. But it's tricky because at the same time they can get a powdery mildew.
      Yes, I don't think the slugs are as bad as they have been in the past. I put down some slug bait early in the season, and we do have a lot of moles & voles. Also, this year we also have quite a few toads which I haven't seen around in awhile, and I read where they eat slugs, too. Yes, my hostas have held up really great against the slugs. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Your August gardens look beautiful Sue with so many colorful blooms. It has been a cooler summer here on Long Island as well and seems to be going into an early fall. Timely post....I just went out into the garden today to do some tidying up. It was a pleasure with 70 degree temperatures! :)

    1. Thank you, Lee. We've had cooler weather in the last few weeks as well, and LOTS of rain. The last few years we have struggled to keep everything well watered this time of year. The rain has really been a big help and has cut down on some of our chores. It's nice when we can work outside and the weather is comfortable.

  5. I always slow down and run out of steam in August too. Your iris looks like something I might like to try. And I haven't thought of Ligularia as one pollinators like.

    1. The Japanese Irises are so easy to grow. Very similar to the Siberian Iris only they bloom later. I was surprised at all the blooms on it after it flowered. I was going to cut the stalks down and I happened to notice another bud on one of the stems. What a surprise when it continued to bloom for several weeks. Thanks for your comments, Ray.

  6. I didn't realize Japanese iris bloom into August. I don't like to weed when it's dry, but when the ground is moist and it's cool, I actually kind of enjoy it. My problem is that I tend to think that if I don't have enough time to weed an entire bed, I don't have time to weed any of it. So now I tell myself I will just weed one tub-trug full and then quit. Since I have 3 sizes of tub-trugs I can adjust the goal to how much time I have. When the tub is full, I'm done. The garden always looks better and I feel better for having spent time in the garden.

    1. I'm guessing our Japanese Irises bloom later because of our hardiness zone (4-5). They are very easy to care for and the bloom season is pretty long (if you don't cut the stalks down after the first flush of flowers). I've done that the past few years without realizing they will continue to flower on those stems.
      I think you have a good plan to schedule your weeding. That's a great idea to just weed until your tub-trug is full, and then you're done. And I agree with you- the garden looks better after we spend the time doing our chores, and we have a sense of accomplishment.

  7. You feature two plants I am trying to grow in my gardens, without much success. I have a clump of Japanese irises, two years old, with beautiful foliage, but no signs of blooming! When I bought them, the vendor told me to plant them in shade. Having done some reading, I think they need to be moved to a spot where they'll get at least some sun, and also more moisture. The soil in that bed is VERY well draining!

    I also bought a Ligularia for the lasagna garden last fall, via mail order. It was billed as a bright flower for deep shade. It died back completely over the winter, and so far this year I have seen just one shoot come up, growing at a glacial pace. I may need to move it to a sunnier, moister location as well.

    Your comment about the Japanese iris continuing to bloom on the same stalk reminds me of my Walking Iris (aka apostle plant), whose blooms last for only one day, but which continues to put out bloom from the same pod, if you will, for several weeks.

    I find that once I can get myself out into the gardens to work at the weeding and deadheading, momentum kicks in and I'll get a good bit done. My problem is the many interruptions I encounter with my teenagers home for the summer and needing rides here and there, or instruction in how to do their own laundry, or just being yanked out of bed because it's almost noon! (16 year old boy, especially!)

    1. I think you are right when you say that you need to transplant your Japanese irises. Mine took a few years to bloom as well. They don't like to dry out at all during the summer. Mine are in a low spot and we've had a lot of rain this year so that has helped as well. They grow naturally near water especially if the water table is high. Just make sure you plant the crown above the water level. The article I read said they need at least 6 hrs to bloom fully. I don't think mine get that much because I have a lot of shade. Some of mine might get 4 hrs of sun. And I agree with you on the Ligularia too. Mine had to be moved because they were not doing well and they took off when I moved them into a more sunny area. The important thing is that they will probably need more water if they are exposed to more sun unless you have a wet/damp area in the sun. I have heard of the Walking Irises before and that's interesting that the blooms only last one day.
      I can see where you certainly are busy with your teenagers and I have been through those interruptions myself. Sometimes it's a nice personal distraction to do gardening. Thanks for commenting, Kimberley. Keep me posted on how your transplants do.