Over recent years, I’ve found there are many reasons why people prefer low-maintenance landscapes. Some are not interested in taking care of the yard; they haven’t the time to weed, deadhead or prune; there are physical impediments; their passion for gardening and energy to pursue the hobby has waned. For myself, nowadays, the less work the better! While some wouldn’t consider my garden to be low-maintenance, it’s now a quarter of the work it was 10 years ago.
I still get immeasurable joy watching my garden grow and change through the seasons and, I still love the diversity of wonders offered up from a well-maintained garden. I’m just not as excited about babying plants along as I once was and now prefer only the tough (disease resistant), good performers!
So far, the majority of perennials and flowering shrubs I’ve planted in my back yard are mostly summer-blooming. Since I spend most of my leisure time under the gazebo during this season, I have worked towards creating a sanctuary where I’m surrounded by the beauty and fragrance of my garden.
I’m already enjoying some of my favourite sun perennials. Along with the hydrangeas, the trumpet lilies (lilium), daylilies (hemerocallis), sedum ‘Matrona’ and shasta daisies (leucanthemum) are all in bloom.
Daylilies need a fair amount of deadheading to look their best so I usually watch for the triploid specimens which have stronger, bigger blooms that last just a bit longer.
As I peruse my garden, I see a few spaces where I may be able to squeeze a few more sun-loving perennials. My next additions will include a purple liatris, coneflowers and lavender.
Named Perennial of the Year in 1998 and the 2002 Herb of the year, coneflowers (echinacea) have petals that droop from large conical crowns attracting bees and butterflies. Purple was the original colour but new varieties such as the “Big Sky” series offer yellows and oranges. Coneflowers usually grow about 2-3 ft. X 3 ft., don’t like to be moved and get better with age. Most flowers are produced in the second and third season. If you shear them back in the late spring you will see bushier plants that bloom longer into the fall.
When most of us think about fragrance in the garden, the always popular lavender (lavandula) is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Brushing against it fills the air with the wonderful smell of summer. This beautiful plant grows to about 2 ft x 2 ft. It prefers well-drained, light and sandy soil and like most silver-foliaged plants, doesn’t like applications of fertilizer (which contributes to the ‘leggy-look’). The secret to keeping lavender compact is to shear it into a 12 inch round ball in late August. If that opportunity is missed, wait to do it in the spring when all danger of frost is past. This trimming will promote vigour for the coming season.
Blazing Star (liatris) is a wonderful ‘feature’ perennial for any border planting. The rose-purple or white flower spikes open from the top downward and rise to about 3 feet above a low grassy clump of leaves. Although tolerant of a wide variety of soil types, liatris thrives best in good garden soil that stays evenly moist and is well supplied with nutrients (compost). It attracts butterflies and bees. With a little planning, all of our sunny, hot, summer gardens can be enhanced with flowers and fragrance and we won’t have to work too hard to achieve some very wonderful results!
Patty Siddall and Betty Drover operate a local garden business. Contact Siddall Drover Garden Services at 250-364-1005