These are pretty + tasty!
The flowers, which are easy to start from seed, are edible – as are the leaves. So – if urban gardening or living off the land in general is your thing: these might be a useful addition to your garden bed.
There are creeping (not creepy) as well as climbing varieties, and these flowers come in a variety of gem-tones, from the traditional orange to yellows, pinks and reds.
What nasturtiums like:
- Start from seed – and sow directly into the ground (warm soil, please!) or put in peat pots to prevent transplant shock
- Neglect (sort of!): don’t over-water – and don’t fertilize, as this causes the plant to put more energy into producing foliage instead of pretty flowers
- Full sun
- To be covered up if there is danger of frost!
Birds, bees and butterflies love it….almost as much as I do!
This native perennial, also known as “coneflower”, is not only pretty and blooms from June-October, but once established, it is drought-tolerant, which makes it perfect for the oven-like conditions that my yard currently offers.
It grows to 3-4′ tall (though, there are some dwarf varieties available) and makes for excellent cut flowers. You can start them from see or (be lazy like me) buy plants from your favorite nursery. Like the black-eyed Susan, their seed heads are favored by birds for food (I fight back my OCD-tendency to want to cut back the mess).
Companion plants? Mine are planted next to the lavender, “Stella d’Oro” daylilies and “Eva Cullum” summer phlox. Daisies and black-eyed Susan are nearby.
These little guys can take the heat of the day in stride. I’ll be working them into my front yard planting plan (Yes! Big installation coming this fall!).
What Echinacea Likes:
- Full sun (will tolerate partial shade)
- Drier, well-drained soil
- To have the weeds kept away from it
- To be divided in the fall every 3-4 years
I was looking for another summer flower to love (thank you, prior owner for leaving me with a garden devoid of any blooms past Easter…as long as Easter fell EARLY). I think I started noticing summer phlox during my annual trek up to the lake in N.H., but what sealed the deal was seeing a wagon full of these, set out in the blazing sun at one of my nursery haunts.
Phlox paniculata sends up lovely panicles of flowers mid-summer through early fall. This pretty perennial attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and it comes in lots of lovely shades of pink. It’s prone to powdery mildew, so set it in an area that gets good air circulation. I chose “Eva Cullum” because it is mildew-resistant.
I’m hypocritical if nothing else, and I failed to follow my own advice and originally planted this in a slightly shady area near shrubs and trees. Guess what? I got small, bent-over flowers with mildew on them. Go figure. I transplanted them last fall, and they are MUCH happier in their new home.
Companion plants? My phlox is parked next to a big swath of echinacea and daylilies. Daisies and black-eyed susan are nearby.
What Summer Phlox Likes:
- Full sun (shade decreases blooms and increases your likelihood for disease)
- To be planted AWAY from trees and shrubs
- To have its crowns planted about 1″ below the soil surface
- To be fertilized before blooming (uh, something I have never done. Whoops!)
- To be watered at the base. Keeping the leaves/flowers dry will minimize your powdery mildew risk
- To be deadheaded before they drop seed. Unless you WANT seedlings.
- To be divided every 3-4 years
I have yards and yards and yards of privacy fence on my city property, and I needed a creative solution to break up some of the monotony AND get some summer color out of the bargain, too.
I’m prone to walking as a moving meditation (you know: sort things out in your head while you’re strolling), and when I did one of my Alley Walks a few years ago, I stumbled on this pretty, upright shrub behind several neighbors’ homes.
I figured, “Perfect!“: if it’s out in their alleys, they can’t be paying a whole lot of attention to it….so it sounds like it might be the plant for ME!
I did a little research and discovered that the plant I fell in love with was a hibiscus, also known as a Rose-of-Sharon…or sometimes Althaea. It’s a deciduous, upright flowering shrub that thrives in the heat and puts out pretty blooms from July-September. Depending on the cultivar you select, it can grow from 6′-12′ tall and 4′-6′ wide. Blooms come in a rainbow of colors: white, clear pink, rose, purple, mauve, red and lavender (I selected “Lavender Chiffon” for my garden), and these shrubs make a great screen or backdrop to a perennial garden bed.
Supposedly, the flowers (which only last a day…like day lilies) are edible, but I have not yet experimented with them yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that point.
What Hibiscus Likes:
- Heat! BRING IT!
- Sandy, well-drained soil – but it will adapt to a variety of soil conditions
- Mulch in the winter
- Prune in late winter. Get rid of the heavier branches to keep that nice columnar form going strong
- To be kept away from strong winds. Mine are protected on their backsides by the privacy fence
Ahhhh…..another staple in my summer garden. I love Black-Eyed Susan – not only because of its ability to thrive on my neglect – but because it won’t melt, no matter how devilishly hot it gets outside in July and August!
In preparation for this posting, I wondered how the flower earned its name (who is this Susan chick, anyway?) and stumbled upon an amazing online article about Black-Eyed Susan, which has information not only about the origin of its name, but the origin of its Latin name, Rudbeckia. Simply fascinating story; take the time to click and read.
This pretty wildflower is native to North America, and while it’s pretty adaptable to many soil conditions, it prefers moist, well-drained soil (if you were a plant, wouldn’t you?!). Like the daisies, this flower has a spreading tendency. It’s not as aggressive as something like oregano or mint, but if it’s happy, it will take off. You can always divide it and redistribute to another part of your garden or pass along to a friend.
Supposedly rabbits like to munch on Black-Eyed Susan, but our Northside bunnies have never touched our plants. Butterflies also like it. As much as I hate the ragged look of the spent flowers at the end of fall, I leave the seed heads intact for the birds’ dining pleasure.
What Black-Eyed Susan Likes:
- Full sun
- Moist, well-drained soil – but it will adapt to drier or wetter conditions
- To be divided every 3-4 years. If they get too crowded, you’ll get smaller plants with fewer flowers
- A little bit of fertilizer makes them bloom a bit more vigorously (me? again: Queen of Neglect here. I don’t do anything other than spread some compost and mulch on them annually)
These cheerful additions to my perennial garden are now on their third season with me….and I haven’t done a darn thing to them, which makes me love them all the more.
This spreading perennial has edible evergreen foliage (or, so I have been told. I have not yet tossed any in a salad). The variety I have is about 4′ tall and the white blooms visually “cool” the garden (I’ll take any help I can get….it has been hotter than the fire of a thousand suns here the past couple of weeks).
Companion plants? I have mine planted with some ornamental sage and black-eyed susan. Lavender and echinacea are nearby, as well.
Daisies also make a nice long-lasting cut flower. In fact, I’m going out to cut some for the vase I keep on my desk. See ya!
What Daisies Like:
- Full sun (they’ll do OK with partial shade)
- Well-drained soil
- Regular waterings – but they don’t want to be drowned
- Deadheading, to extend their blooming season (note: I am lazy. I don’t touch mine, and they seem to do pretty well through early fall)
- Some mulch on their crowns if they’re wintering somewhere really cold