There comes a time in the garden
When things change.
It’s a subtle change most years.
But you know it’s coming.
With this week came the transition from spring to summer.
(Although the heat dome seems to have confused us a bit.)
Nature is so wise.
Spring flowers can survive cool or even cold weather.
But not heat.
A hotter than usual spring means the flowers come and go quickly.
I don’t like it when that happens.
Summer flowers can take the heat.
They bask in it.
So nature in her wisdom gave us summer flowers for those hot days.
They begin their reign around the first day of summer.
The work horses of the summer garden are
Gloriosa Daisies (Rudbeckia)
Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea)
Tall Garden Phlox –Daylilies – Zinnias – Cosmos
We’ll visit each of these over the summer
But this week let’s begin at the top of the list.
Gloriosa Daisies (Rudbeckia) are like sunshine.
Their bright sunny faces start appearing in June and will continue till fall if deadheaded.
As with most flowers the first blush of the season is the biggest and boldest.
You can start them in your garden with seeds or with plants.
There are many varieties – some solid yellow some with brown centers.
The only variety I’m not crazy about is Goldstrum Rudbeckia.
I like the flower OK, but it’s growth habit is a problem for me.
Within the first year or two it will form a large dense clump.
Th kind of clump you think of with major shrubs.
It’s a big too aggressive for the average backyard garden.
If you have a field to cover then be my guest.
Gloriosa patches have planted themselves here and there throughout my garden.
Some are short with small blooms.
Others are bigger and bolder.
Since many of my garden plants are pass along plants I don’t know many variety names.
My first Gloriosa’s came from my friend Sally early one December.
A backhoe was in her garden and she lifted plants as quickly as she could rescue them.
I was the lucky recipient.
She had gotten them from her mother’s garden.
Gloriosas are especially pretty in early June next to purple Larkspur.
Nature has a wonderful sense of color that way – arranging for complementary colors to bloom at the same time – such wisdom.
So plant them in full sun and they’ll reward you each year.
They’ll even make babies if the last seed heads are left on in the fall.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) has much in common with Gloriosas.
They both have a daisy like flower.
They like sun – though Echinacea will also do well in part shade.
They will rebloom if deadheaded through the summer.
And make babies from seed pods left alone late in the season.
They also make patches of color in the June garden.
The petals of Echinacea begin life standing straight out.
After a day or two they begin to droop.
Just a fun addition to their personality.
Shasta Daisies belong in this group.
Bright open flowers.
Same self seeding habit.
Lover of sun.
You can divide Shastas by dividing the clump in spring or fall.
Or from deadheads dropped along the way.
Because these flowers produce lots of blooms they are great for cutting.
You’ll still have many left even after making the biggest arrangement imaginable.
Cutting instructions are almost the same for all three.
Cut when the petals are open, but the center disk is tight.
Condition for several hours or overnight beginning with slightly warm water.
Strip the foliage off Echinacea and Shasta’s.
Leave it on for Gloriosas and also split the bottom of these stems about an inch or two.
You can do the same to the others if the stems are old and woody.
Gloriosa’s can be a bit picky and wilt down easily.
I find that it’s best to cut them at the joint rather than cutting so long with several branches jointing out.
I don’t remember this every time and have killed a few along the way.
So there you have it.
Three great choices for the “dog days of summer”.