It’s late July. For most people, it’s really hot and dry–although lately, it is getting increasingly difficult to predict what the weather should be doing in a given season.
Despite that, most people do not want to be outside “gardening ” in mid-July. At this point, the gardens should be doing their best and we should be vacationing (maybe) or staycationing or just trying to stay cool. Unless you are harvesting vegetables or weeding ( because that chore never ends) by now the hard work of planting and pruning and staking and all the other springtime things that seem never-ending are done.
Why, then, is it so difficult to find gardens in bloom in mid-summer? I used to think that it was because everyone was on vacation and no one planted for this time. But that’s not really what happens here at least.
What happens here is that most of us plant shrubs. You can see that in my wildlife garden, which has gotten even wilder this summer because my version of weeding has consisted of simply pruning the flowering heads off of anything that I could reach. And in this big garden, that wasn’t much.
But as you can see from this photo, much of this garden is shrubs. There are perennials–I can identify ferns, nepeta and pycnanthemum (mountain mint–and in true mint fashion, lots of it) from the photo.
And because shrubs generally bloom for shorter periods of time, that means it’s a little harder to get a whole summer of bloom by planting different shrubs. After all, they take a lot of space.
This, for example, is the southern border of the wildlife garden. It’s entirely self-sown hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon. Originally I left it to protect the garden from my neighbor’s assaults. His riding mower was always throwing grass into the garden and once his pesticide drift killed a shrub that had been gifted to me. This dense hedge has saved a lot of heartache.
The flowers are also really attractive to both bees and hummingbirds. This is especially nice now that the container I planted for them has been demolished. But that is a story for another day.
Speaking of pollinators, the mountain mint, while not much to look at, is very attractive to bees as well. That is specifically why I planted it (this not being the mountains, clearly it is not native for me. It is a mystery why it does so well in my clay soil–perhaps that is closer to its native range than I realize).
Just out of range in the photo of the garden is this native which has just started blooming. Clearly it is attractive to bees. Native asters will follow in about a month to 6 weeks. So while I don’t have a lot of “planted” perennials, those that I do have are attractive to the wildlife and that’s why they stay.
As I am fond of saying, sometimes nature is a better gardener than I am!