Category Archives: Summer

Rosey and Riveting

Women went to work during World War II with the aviation industry seeing the greatest increase in female workers. Fueled by the U.S. government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda campaign 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the workforce! The bandanna-clad Rosie became an iconic image of working women in the World War II era. Flexing her muscles Rosie said “We can do it!”

Things can look “rosie” and “riveting” in your garden today and you can do it! Plant breeding in the past 10 to 20 years has developed landscape roses that are hardy, prolific bloomers with little maintenance. Known as “shrub” roses they are grown on their own root instead of grafted making them versatile and durable.

Miracle on the Hudson Rose named to honor heroic crew and passengers of Flight 1549

Roses are still divas in the landscape requiring a lot of sunlight to bloom at their peak performance. Try to plant in an area that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season. They are also heavy feeders so make sure to fertilize with a complete rose fertilizer in spring and summer. The great thing about shrub or own root landscape roses is they tend to keep blooming well into October, sometimes even November.

With the interest in groundcover alternatives to turf remember that these new generation roses also are available as “groundcover” or spreading roses. Varieties like ‘Drift’ roses cover a lot of space with color. Sometimes plants we consider to be vines can instead be allowed without support to spread on the ground in difficult to maintain areas like a sunny slope and effectively fill the space. Air circulation is always important with roses so don’t over crowd them with other plants. I have found some that ornamental grasses are good companions with roses providing a great backdrop for their continuous summer into fall color. Blue is a desirable color in the landscape making the sun loving Nepeta and Lavender a great choice to partner with your roses. Also consider Heliotrope as the sun loving perennial that will show off with the roses at peak bloom time in mid-summer.

When planting those “riveting” landscape roses I recommend against mixing colors. Plant at least three of the same together for impact. Visually it is far more impactful and as with most landscapes odd numbered plantings usually look the most natural.

Today’s landscape roses and ground cover roses don’t require tricky pruning, but regular pruning will keep plants compact. No need to prune these “self cleaning” roses like we pruned the large hybrid tea roses in the past to get them to rebloom. Simply prune as needed to keep size in check a couple times a year. You can prune plants back annually by one-third to one-half to encourage fresh growth.

Mow-tivation

I was reading with great interest a British study recently that implied the gender roles in the home are being rewritten including three quarters of women happy to tackle the job of mowing the lawn previously considered a task of the man of the household. Meanwhile six in ten men would be willing to make dinner every night and clean up afterwards as well. This survey of 2,000 Brits indicates gender roles have evolved in the home and an understanding that a chore shared is a chore halved. I believe it only makes sense that when it comes to yard work, cooking, cleaning and other household chores that teamwork always beats the culturally assigned gender roles that Mom and Dad demonstrated years ago. In the turf classes I have taught with a show of hands, hands down women believe they could do a much better job of the lawn and landscape then the man in the household. Conversely this study showed one in 5 men felt they could do a better job of cleaning and tasks their fathers would have declined to do. Whether it is weeding, mowing, cooking or vacuuming today’s home and garden inhabitants understand that a partnership beats previously culturally defined roles.

Mow and Behold!

Mow and Behold!

Out in the yard the green green grass of home (Tom Jones 1967 oh this dates me) can become a tiresome chore for household partners when the calendar turns to August. My first word of advice is to raise the deck on the mower. Cutting the grass short in the heat of summer is not a good idea and adds stress to the lawn. Longer grass blades shade the crown of the plant, increase surface area for photosynthesis and reduce weed growth and development comparatively to a scalped or short cut lawn. Irrigate in the morning when watering is most efficient (sun and wind evaporation is less) and avoid irrigating at sundown (to reduce disease stress). August is a great month to plan for rejuvenating your lawn with the coming month of September one of the best months to seed a lawn, feed a lawn and control weeds. Fall is the perfect time for lawn establishment and rejuvenation.
Some are abandoning the typical urban front lawn for alternatives and I say more “flower” to you. Even though our lawns are great for trapping dust particles, cooling the earth and generating oxygen, alternatives are available. Groundcovers and ornamental grasses are easy to grow hardy substitutes for a well groomed lawn.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster lines a drive

Ornamental grasses are spotlighted in the landscape from August to October as they “dance” for our attention as drought tolerant landscape show stoppers. Perennial, deer resistant, drought resistant and hardy easy to grow plants, Ornamental grasses are available in a wide array of cultivars to enjoy. My neighbors looked questioningly as I replaced a large swath of lawn with ornamental Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ grasses at my lakeshore landscape, but now are true believers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Consider ornamental grasses and move to the head of the “grass” for the “grass” of 2016. Congratulations and enjoy.

July Butterfly

The landscape celebrates July in its own quiet way with fireworks that go KaBloom! Those floriforous fireworks draw a crowd of butterflies and hummingbirds to our warm and colorful plantings. In general bright colors attract butterflies and hummingbirds to our yards. I read a quote that said a flower is simply a leaf mad in love. How true.

Milkweed in bloom at sunset

Milkweed in bloom at sunset

Colorful blooms attract pollinators and nectar lovers to our yards. Natural growing milkweed is a fragrant joy to observe during the months of June and July.

A Lacecap Hydrangea is a great example with the outer ring of showy sterile blooms that attract the attention for the less showy interior blooms. The July landscape should be a playground for butterflies and hummingbirds and it all starts by selecting the right plants to accent your yard, deck and patio. Remember sunny spaces and some water help in attracting these winged performers to put on a show. Often the next question is “Rick what are your favorites to do the job in the month of July?” I’m glad you asked, many different plants will do the job but I especially like these in the month of July.

Asclepias (Butterfly weed)
Agastache

Agastache in bloom. Its sweet licorice aroma and colorful blooms a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

Agastache in bloom. Its sweet licorice aroma and colorful blooms a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

Allium
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
Baptisia (False Indigo)

Baptisia one of my favorite perennials in the landscape!

Baptisia one of my favorite perennials in the landscape!

Cosmos
Crocosmia
Daylilies
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Heliopsis
Honeysuckle
Hydrangea
Joe Pye Weed
Lantana
Landscape Roses
Lychnis

Bright red roses are a draw for butterflies

Bright red roses are a draw for butterflies

Milkweed
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Nepeta
Petunias and Calibrachoa
Russian Sage
Salvia
Sedum
Tithonia Mexican Sunflower
Tickseed (Coreopsis)
Zinnias

Hibiscus confusion?

Hibiscus confusion? Cue the music and let’s meet the contestants….

Our first featured Hibiscus is from and native to the Eastern US….one native tribe in the US used it to cure inflamed bladders and Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. A shrub like herbaceous perennial and vigorous grower, this Hibiscus is sure to please with dinner plate sized flowers July-September. A very colorful character say hello to Hibiscus Moscheutos.

Hibiscus moscheutos Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos
Perennial herbaceous hardy Hibiscus

Our next featured Hibiscus hails from tropical Asia and China. Not hardy to Michigan winters this hibiscus loves to play in the sun and warm temperatures.

Rosa sinensis....non hardy tropical Hibiscus

Rosa sinensis….non hardy tropical Hibiscus

This plant makes a bold statement when entering a room with stunning flowers….that only last for a day or two. Say hello to Rosa Sinensis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final featured Hibiscus is ubiquitous and all around town. A slow starter once established blooms beautifully in July and August. Woody and requiring discipline, this Hibiscus goes by different names like Althea, Rose of Sharon or Hibiscus making it’s personality complex. Say hello to Hibiscus syriacus.

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus also known as Althea or Rose of Sharon

June Blooms

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area....Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Rhododendrons love the Lake Michigan shoreline area….Well drained soil, slightly acidic and plenty of insulating snow in winter

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

Alliums are now done blooming and can be dried for fall arrangements. If you like them plan to buy the bulbs in fall for planting

This is Elderflower....very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don't mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

This is Elderflower….very large and generally grows in ditch areas. In bloom in June. Don’t mistake it for Giant Hogweed the plant that has been in the news lately.

Squash blooms are edible and delicious....might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Squash blooms are edible and delicious….might want to consider some Qtip pollination to help Mother Nature along

Don't forget Crotons are not just a "houseplant"....great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals

Don’t forget Crotons are not just a “houseplant”….great for containers on the deck or patio to combine with flowering annuals