The Spice of Life

July is a great month to experiment with plant material. With balmy gardening weather and post spring specials on plants at the garden center, you can afford to try some new plants with little to lose. There is still plenty of growing season ahead in July so flowering annuals can be planted to supplement your spring plantings with an experimental twist! How many times have I found new plants that I have grown to love by experimenting outside of the traditional spring planting season. As an example years ago I became enamored with a couple of flowering annuals, Verbena bonariensis and Gomphrena, leftovers of spring no one wanted.

A field of Gomphrena

In the busy spring season without knowledge of these plants, shoppers left them behind for more traditional choices like Begonias. Now discounted from spring pricing I took the “what do I have to lose approach”. I had everything to gain. Variety is the spice of life and adding new plants to your “hort”-folio is an investment in your personal garden prowess as well as enjoyment. Both of these flowering annuals became favorites of mine and have since added to the diversity of my plantings. They bloomed beautifully causing people walking by on the sidewalk to ring the doorbell to ask, “what is that plant?” I would make plant converts one by one and their legend grew. To a degree this is what happens today on sites like Pinterest where education of new varieties provides the spice of experimental interest for our landscapes.
With our busy lifestyles I believe your landscape should work as hard as you do. I also believe that mono-cultures are not a good idea in the landscape and that as in life, diversity is better. Each plant has its season in the sun when it takes center stage. Within a diverse group problems do not spread like wildfire and the diversity presents continual visual interest as each plant plays its role. You learn this by extending your reach, experimenting with plant material. The lazy hazy days of summer afford you this opportunity.

Hibiscus ‘Sultry Kiss’

I had a teacher who always said, “If you haven’t killed any plants you’re not trying hard enough.” How true. In July without the fear of frost we can try all kinds of plant material including those that provide a tropical feel in the landscape. From Herbs to Hibiscus, Morning glories to Monarda, try your hand at something new in your landscape this month….you’ll be glad you did.

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