The late summer garden.

There comes a time in summer

When you have to decide.

Let the blossoms linger

Or…cut them back so that they can bloom again in fall.

That’s what I’ve spent much of the last week doing.

Cutting back.

Deadheads from this week's efforts.

I may be a bit late.

It’s always hard to tell.

After all we don’t know when the first freeze will come.

At this point we can hardly imagine a freeze at all.

But before we know it we’ll be looking back at this summer.

We get a lot of bad press in this part of the country about weather

Much of it self-inflicted

Some people gripe about gardening here.

But for me the truth is this is a great place to garden.

We have 4 distinct seasons.

Granted they get a little confused some years.

And occasionally we miss one all together.

But almost every year I can garden for 9 months.

Sometimes 10.

What more can you ask for.

When one of my first gardening clients, Liz, died on New Year’s Eve.

I remember going into my yard to cut a few flowers to add to an arrangement to take to her home.

Liz loved arranging flowers. 

She was an artist.

She knew color and scale.

Even on days when she wasn’t feeling well I would find her out in her cutting garden when I came by for the weekly maintenance.

Frequently there will be daffodils and hellebores on Valentine’s Day.

But in order to do this you have to plan and…

You have to be ruthless this time of year.

It also means that you’ll have less color for a few weeks.

Unless, of course, you planted zinnias during late June.

The purple wedding zinnias are starting to bloom.

Then, they will pick up the slack when it comes to garden color.

My friends Martie and Cheri have both reported the first zinnia blooms in the last few weeks.

The Monarch Butterflies will be grateful to them.

Soon they’ll begin their flight to their winter home in Mexico.

The sunny flat faced blossoms of zinnias give them all the food they need for the trip.

Zinnias awaiting visitors

There have been years where they absolutely come in flocks to dine on late summer zinnias.

So what you may ask am I whacking away at.

Tall garden phlox.

Too tall phlox

This year it’s been really tall since I didn’t get it cut back in the spring.

And for some reason I haven’t cut much of it for arrangements.

Along with phlox other hot summer staples Gloriosa Daisies and Purple Coneflower have gotten harsh hair cuts.

Pladycodan (Balloon Flower) also got whacked severely.

Shasta Daisies are still blooming. 

Just deadhead them to keep them going.

No severe treatment here.

Though I do need to dig and divide them come fall.

Basically this time of year there’s not much else to do but deadhead and weed.

Or in simpler terms putter.

And enjoy!


P.S. I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m seeing more and more trees around town in
severe stress.  Drag a hose to any tree or shrub at your house and let it trickle.
Move it in concentric circles for a day or two.  Soak it slowly to go deeply. 
You’ll actually hear them thank you!


Filed under Dead Heading, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, late summer garden, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Shasta Daisy, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Zinnia

6 responses to “THE LATE SUMMER GARDEN

  1. Cheri

    Forever, they will be purple wedding zinnias to me.

  2. Gail…I love strolling through your posts! Sometimes I review…other than the poetry of it all that I look forward to savoring–there are the little seeds of garden what to, how to, when to knowledge that we can apply to our less tended plots. Thank you for all of this! It is garden love and wisdom.

  3. Robin Riley

    Wow! I loved this, you are so poetic as well as instructive. Thank you for sending this! Some how my gardens don’t look like yours, but I am trying!
    Love, Robin

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