GARDENING DIVA: Some Really Do Like it Hot

By on July 30, 2012
Garden Diva August
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BY FRANCES GROSSMAN

With cup of coffee in hand, I have the chance to meander about my garden, taking note of how things around the yard are progressing in the summer heat. My conclusion? We’ve got some winners and we have some…well, let’s just call them… runners up!

I’m hoping that that you know exactly what I mean.

Larry and I were running full speed ahead in the spring, ready to get our outdoor living rooms ready to entertain and enjoy. Now, I want to reap the benefits of our hard work –just to kick back and relax.

I think that we’re in pretty good shape; I owe that not only to this spring’s garden hustle but also to some planting that we did prior.

You see, a couple of years ago, I wasn’t completely in love with my late summer garden. I talked with my local nursery experts (I think you know where I find them!) and discovered a number of heat-loving shrubs that would anchor the garden through the hottest of months. I wanted color and substance to complement my early summer bloomers, the summer annuals, and then move right along through the fall when the garden re-invents itself again with blooms that like a bit of nip in the air. Although it may sound like a tall order, I found a few contenders that now a couple of years later show themselves to be the perfect match for what I was looking for. Let me introduce you to the ‘stars’ of my August garden…

Endless Summer Hydrangea: Big, lush and beautiful, the Endless Summer is easy to care for and still looks great in the fall. As a serious repeat bloomer (this plant blooms on last year’s woody stems AND this year’s new ones), you’ll find more than enough flowers to snip and enjoy in a vase on the table as well.

Summer Sweet: This shrub is the perfect collaboration of attributes; she is tough and can really tolerate the heat. Yet, when you walk past the beautiful, delicate looking fuzzy blooms on the plant, the fragrance is an absolute delight. The impact on your senses is so delightful in fact, that I’ve actually caught myself closing my eyes and pausing to enjoy the sweet fragrance.

Caryopteris: This little summer dazzler caught my eye a few years ago when Larry and I were on a garden tour; I knew that our garden needed some of this sassy color. Caryoptris offers a unique blue-ish purple hue in the garden – the color is a dynamic POP of the unexpected. In addition to the cool color, this plant is a butterfly magnet and is very heat tolerant. After blooming, the leaves then turn a bit silvery in color which is interesting in itself. Lastly, the versatile blue/purple color of the flowers makes it easy to place in your garden; she is a beautiful contrast to pastels.

There are two other quick notes that I’d like to share about my morning walkabout…

I am so grateful that our backyard and outdoor rooms are graced with a wide variety of trees. Right now as the morning is opening itself up to hours of August heat, I am looking forward to the shady reprieve that Larry and I will have for this evening’s dinner under the canopy of the trees in the backyard. I also know that in a short while, we’ll love the color changes of the fall season. It’s like a little gift that unwraps itself time and time again.

My last thought is about my window boxes and planters. Overall, I feel good about my choices this year. There are a few plants that have done their job and performed beautifully through the last several months. I can tell, however, that they may not continue to look as stellar as we look towards autumn. Here’s what I’m going to do… I’ll keep the plants that will thrive through fall and simply replace the others with new fresh cooler temperature-loving plants. I’ll certainly plug in some mums, Sunscape Daisies and Verbena. Each looks terrific in a dusting of light frost. I’ll add Million Bells and Ornamental Peppers to a few others. This gives me the perfect transition into the next season with very little work.

Wow – that was one powerful cup of coffee this morning! The dogs are tuckered out from playing, my cup is empty and my mind is inspired. Here’s to a wonderful August day…

Frances Grossman is the president of Grossmans Garden & Home in Penfield, NY. www.grossmans.com. 585-377-1982. Visit Grossmans Garden & Home on Facebook
Tune into WHAM 1180 & streamed live @ www.wham1180.com every Saturday from Noon -1:00 pm for the ‘Grossmans Garden Show Live on WHAM

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