By Phyllis Galowitz
Tiger lilies are finished for the season. They were beautiful and I’ve seen them in such gorgeous colors. I wondered, when I saw whole areas of nothing but tiger lilies, how those gardens would look when the lilies were finished. Now I’m seeing that phlox and monarda (bee balm) have taken their place and they are just as showy. Phlox comes in colors that I’ve never seen them in before, like the Nora Leigh with its variegated foliage, in soft pink with a darker pink eye.
Sunflowers, rudbeckia and shasta daisies add color even to the shade garden, which mine has become since the trees have grown so big. Coral bells, which are grown more for their foliage, come in beautiful tones to dress borders.
Early fall is a good time to divide phlox (if you hadn’t done it in spring) and share them with friends. If they’re overcrowded, the flower heads will gradually become smaller and the leaves will have more than the usual problem with powdery mildew. Powdery mildew will not kill phlox but it is unsightly. It spreads when nights are humid and warm. As a preventative, spray with a fungicide or mix one tablespoon each of dish detergent and baking soda into a gallon of water. Spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves every 10-14 days, before powdery mildew forms. After the main flowers have finished blooming, cut them just above the side branches for a second but smaller bloom and fewer seedlings.
Dahlias, dug up and stored over the winter and planted in the spring, have now started to bloom. (As of this writing on August 13th.) It’s worth the effort of digging them when you see them re-emerge in August and the foliage has been beautiful all summer.
Autumn joy is a favorite of mine and it does so well in our climate. It starts blooming in August with pale green flowers that gradually become the palest pink and then become darker and darker until they become a rich mahogany color which then lasts all through the winter.
Hostas are another good choice for shade gardens to partially sunny locations and come in many different shades from chartreuse to green to blue.
I’ve had to deal with a troublesome groundhog this summer. She (I think it’s a she since she looks as if she’s about to have a litter) ate every flower that I planted in early summer and when they rebloomed she ate them again! She seems to prefer young plants since now that the tomatoes are almost ripening, she’s not one bit interested in them. She ate all the lettuce that grew in early summer. I planted some to come up in the fall. Maybe she’ll be satisfied with what she finds in the lawn and will leave the lettuce alone.
Joe-pye weed, Queen Anne’s lace and Common Speedwell are blooming all along Route 28.
Soon the Asters will be here. The natural garden, with no help from anyone, is so beautiful. It’s pretty hard to compete! ~