The summer is flying by, August is upon us. We were fortunate to receive some much-needed rain last week so myGardens4me are looking pretty luscious this week. Early August blooms are plentiful.
A few blossoms pictured in my late July post are still hanging around, surprisingly. A perennial geranium is reblooming, even though I did not get around to cutting it back as I usually do to encourage a repeat performance…
New this month are the heliopsis or false sunflowers, providing splashes of vivid yellow at my gate and amongst the greenery of my “jungle” as my 6-year-old granddaughter calls it.
Also new this month are the garden phlox (as opposed to the creeping variety) in bright pink and white…
as well as tickseed…
Also thriving after our heavy rains are the weeds in my lawn. My granddaughter (the same one that loves my “jungle”) helped me mow the weeds one day, until a thunderstorm sent us running into the house…
I love the fact that my grandchildren enjoy my gardens, hopefully, they will remember these days in years to come. I know I cherished the time spent in my own grandmothers’ gardens.
Today I stopped by the hospice that I volunteer at to check out the gardens and containers I planted. I am particularly thrilled with the progress of thecoleus spilling out of these containers in the shade. Every year there appear to be more varieties available; their colours are striking!
Ok, I will admit it, I am a snob, a plant snob that is! Some plants I find just too common and boring. For example, “Look at that beautiful hosta!” said no one ever. Or spirea either for that matter, unless you are talking one of the bridal wreath variety, then you may just hear or think that, but only if it is pruned correctly.
An Aversion to Hostas if You’re a Plant Snob
I appear to have developed an aversion to hostas, probably because people have overused them in their gardens. The only time I enjoy them is in the very early spring when their green spikes are one of the first signs of new growth to emerge from the soil as it thaws out here in the Ottawa area. In the summer they get eaten by slugs and earwigs, and in the fall they turn mushy and slimy…
For shady areas, I like perennial geraniums. They are one of the first perennials to green up in the spring, require no maintenance whatsoever, and maintain their neat, non-sprawling (most varieties) mounded shape. They do spread throughout the garden, but are very shallow-rooted, so easy to remove from places you do not want them to spread to. These geraniums are great for planting under trees, even evergreen trees where nothing else will thrive.
In fact, I planted lots of these versatile plants as ground cover under the evergreens we limbed up at the hospice I volunteer at. They look beautiful!
Another good choice for an edging plant in shady areas is lamium. Its variegated leaves, reblooming pale flowers, and tidy habit make it one of my favourites..
For part shade to part sun locations in the garden, I am loving heucheras these days. Some varieties tolerate more sun than others, so be sure to read the tags.
Heucheras come in a variety of colors from palest green to bright chartreuse to orangy-brown to reddish-brown to deep wine red. Leaf shapes vary too from smooth and rounded, to almost maple-leaf-like, to curly, lettuce-leaf-like.
They look good all summer, need no fall cleanup or protection, and survive our cold winters with no problem. A simple tug to remove any crispy leaves in the spring and they are good to go.
By the way, heuchera is pronounced with a hard c. I will never forget that after I was chastised for mispronouncing it by a 93-year-old client.
Sedum or Stonecrop
My first choice for full sun edging or container plants are those in the sedum or stonecrop families. As succulents, sedums and stonecrops are all drought-tolerant, thriving in hot, dry areas, especially next to stone walkways where not much else will grow.
They too come in a variety of colors and shapes, in fact, look especially nice (I think) when varieties are mixed together randomly.
So, next season think outside of your comfort zone, and become a plant snob by replacing those boring hostas with a little more pizazz!
hostas are great at the front of a border or bed and thrive in deep shade through part sun. Most hostas prefer shade, but those with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers prefer more sun. They come in many colours and sizes these days from miniature to huge. If you do plant the large ones, be sure to give them lots of space as they do not look their best when crowded.
Modern perennials: geraniums, not the red annual type your grandmother planted, but the perennial variety
Perennial geraniums also look great at the front of borders or beds. They tolerate shade and part sun. I love them because they are the first to green up in the spring, offer some colour with the blooms, but look great even when not in bloom. They come in many colors and sizes. Some of the larger ones can tend to be floppy, so I stick to the smaller ones.
Shrubs: Black Lace Elderberry
The deep wine colour of Black Lace Elderberries look wonderful mixed with all of the shades of green in your gardens. They die down to the ground each winter in my area, and are often slow to come back in the spring, but can grow to heights of six feet or more. This spring was so late and the winter so cold, I thought my black lace had died. Thankfully I decided to give it another week, and sure enough, one week later it was one foot tall! The pale pink flowers are pretty but I consider them a bonus as they don’t last long. The dark coloured lacy foliage is the reason I love this shrub. This season it is a great backdrop for my lily trees featured in the third picture.
Vines: Silver Lace
Although the Silver Lace vine blooms in the fall and so not blooming this week, I am always suggesting it to my clients. It is quick growing, covering any structure very fast with white lace like flowers, a beautiful sight in September through November. Unfortunately I lost mine this past winter due to the severe cold weather we experienced. It is only hardy to zone 5 which is pushing the envelope for my Ottawa garden.
Coleus are great for filling in blank spots and contributing splashes of colour in shady spots of your gardens. I never used to like them, but after seeing them tucked in among perennials in a client’s garden, I’ve changed my mind and added some to my own gardens this year. Coleus come in many combinations and shades of pink, red and green; all make vibrant additions to a garden or container.
A new breed of humongous mosquitoes has now been detected in Ontario from Ottawa to the Niagara region. Called Psorophora ciliata, and nicknamed Gallinippers, these mosquitoes are approximately 20 times the size of the mosquitoes we are used to.
This is another article about why some people get more mosquito bites than others. Apparently they are attracted to the heat and sweat on our bodies and the carbon dioxide we exhale. Eating certain foods has not been scientifically proven to attract or repel mosquitoes.
My brother took this picture of one of these mosquitoes he found at his home in Ingleside, Ontario. You can see how large it is in comparison to the quarter it is lying on…
I hate using chemical concoctions on my skin, so look to more natural remedies or repellants. I read recently that rubbing the leaves of a perennial geranium on your skin will repel mosquitoes. The leaves do release a strong scent when touched, so it may work…
Another plant that repels mosquitoes but does not need to be rubbed on your skin is basil. I just might plant some of that in my gardens at home and at the cottage.