Well summer has finally rolled around (no really it has) and we leave the garden to the sprinkler systems and direct our attention toward other more relaxing endeavors.
But can we still plant in summer, create new beds or containers and fill in empty spaces in the garden? Of course!
Just look around at all the gardeners and landscapers who are busily planting and overhauling containers and gardens right through even the hottest months of summer.
It is traditionally thought that once the May long weekend was over planting time screeched to a halt until fall, not the case at all. This is one of the best times to plant, with the highest available light levels and the summer’s warmth many plants are at their peak in active growth and as long as they are properly watered they will establish themselves very quickly. Containerized plants can be planted pretty much throughout the year (with little or no transplant shock) and planting in summer allows a longer time for the plants to establish themselves before having to face and “tough out” our infamous BC winters.
By this time of year the established areas in your garden have filled out and you can see the bare spots that are in need of that special plant that you have been eyeing. Now is a great time to shop as the garden center is stocked with an excellent selection of lush material much of which is in bloom and with plants that would not have been ready or available in spring.
Summer is a more relaxed time to get out and explore the garden center as many growers (myself included) are constantly producing new crops of plants throughout the year to keep things exciting and fresh, so keep an eye out as there is always something new for the garden and you can selectively shop without the hustle-and-bustle of the “spring rush”.
Here are just a few plants to look for this summer:
Cistus hybridus ‘Mickie’
ROCKROSE – Wow, what a stunner in the garden with brilliant golden leaves splashed with dark green in the center. Plants are compact and low mounding with large (5cm) clear white flowers in early summer (May-June). A charming evergreen that is deer resistant and tolerant of drought once established, likes full sun and good drainage.
Height: 45cm Spread: 60-75cm Zone: 7
Gaillardia x grandiflora
BLANKET FLOWER – Some very tough plants with the ability to tolerate the poorest of soils and blazing sun. The newest introductions have compact habits, vivid colours and bloom through summer, they include: ‘Red Sun’ with hot orange-red flowers tipped in yellow, ‘Sun Devil’ with fluted red petals and vibrant yellow tips or ‘Mesa Yellow’ with abundant flowers of bright yellow with complementary yellow cones.
Roscoea purpurea ‘Spice Island’
ORCHID GINGER – Found in the Himalayas by famed plantsman Dan Hinkley this hardy ginger should be a welcome addition to any shade garden. Absolutely stunning with a tropical appearance; sturdy deep red stems support dark leaves with deep red backs.
Flowers appear in late summer and resemble pink orchids with a crepe-ruffle. Likes a cool woodland setting with partial shade and adequate drainage also does great as a container plant.
Height: 60cm Spread: 30cm Zone: 6
Zingiber mioga ‘Moonbeam’
MYOGA GINGER – An exotic, hardy ginger from Japan with leaves that become streaked with green and pale gold to white by summer, pale yellow orchid-like flowers at ground level in late summer and early fall.
A vigorous tropical-like plant that does best in partial shade on average well drained soil.
Height: 90cm Spread: 1m Zone: 7 (6)
Zingiber mioga ‘White Arrow’
MYOGA GINGER – An elegant hardy ginger with long dark green leaves edged and streaked with white, makes a great textural plant for the shade garden with a bold tropical appearance. Pale yellow orchid-like flowers at ground level in late summer and early fall. A vigorous grower that does best in partial shade on average well drained soil.
Height: 90cm Spread: 1m Zone: 7 (6)
Photographs courtesy of HarkAway Botanicals and Terra Nova Nurseries.
These plants and many others are available at Art's Nursery. As quantities may be limited, please call ahead to confirm availability.
Lyle is a certified Horticultural Technician (Niagara College), Landscape Designer, Nurseryman and the proprietor of HarkAway Botanicals.
Since 1980 Lyle has worked in both the retail and wholesale sectors of the horticultural trade; he operates his own wholesale nursery, which focuses on an eclectic mix of rare and choice plant material from Asia, Europe and North America.
Lyle has appeared on The Canadian Gardener
and is a contributing author to A Grower’s Choice
(Raincoast books 2001). His horticultural expertise makes him sought after as a consultant, lecturer, photographer, instructor and writer. An industry veteran, Lyle is esteemed within the horticultural community for his passionate and often humorous enthusiasm for plants.