Despite the recent bouts of high humidity, this has been an enjoyable summer. A far cry from last year when I was spending about an hour most days lugging water to my 30+ containers plus the thirsty vegetables. Even some shrubs and trees were wilting because of the drought. We’ve been getting fairly regular rainfall and while I still do have to water my containers a few times a week and keep late seedings of chard, beets, carrots and beans moist, all in all I have had more time to garden and enjoy my plants than water them.

Summer flowering bulbs are such fun. Blossoms are unusual, often colorful and add an exotic touch of the tropics to beds and containers. I started with 3 pineapple lily bulbs (Eucomis comosa) about a decade ago and they have been slowly but happily multiplying. They seem to do best where they get a half-day sun in my gardens.

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Pineapples lilies by dmp,2017

Gloriosa lilies (Gloriosa rothschildiana) are pretty glorious to look at with their recurved red and yellow flowers. I have them growing in a half whisky barrel with an obelisk to grow up. Native to tropical Africa, gloriosa lilies are vines that climb using their leaves. The ends of the leaves are modified tendrils and grasp on to their support or other plants. There is a moonflower vine and a scarlet morning glory also growing up the obelisk.

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Gloriosa lily surrounded by moon flower foliage by dmp, 2017

Most people just think about growing 4 o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) from seed and do not realize that they can dig up the tuberous roots. As the roots increase in size, so doesn’t the top growth so they plants get about 4 feet high and wide and are covered with bright yellow tubular blossoms that open late in the day as the name suggests. Four o’clocks come in a number of delightful colors, some even speckled or variegated. This year I planted an orange one from seed but it has not bloomed yet. Two things to consider when growing these plants are that they need to be staked or the top-heavy stems will keel over and Japanese beetles do find them tasty.

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Yellow 4 O’clock by dmp, 2017

Dahlias rank close to the top for favorite summer bulbs. They get planted along the picket fence in the front of the house each year. Since the house is a pale peach, I tend to plant dahlias in shades of yellow, orange, peach and bronze. I am especially fond of the varieties with bronze foliage and single blossoms like ‘Elise’ and ‘Bishop of Oxford’ although ‘Peaches and Cream’ is an outstanding double with cream to peach to yellow colorations.

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Dahlias along front picket fence and marigolds lining front walkway by dmp, 2017

dahlias Elise & Bishop of Orange

Dahlias, ‘Elise’ left and ‘Bishop of Oxford’ right by dmp, 2017

One of my favorite garden centers, Tri-County Greenhouse (http://www.tri-countyarc.org/tricountygreenhouse.html) in Mansfield, CT, which sells a superb selection of both common and unusual plants, had some chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) for sale this spring. I stuck one in a container with some chocolate daisies (Berlandiera lyrata) that I had started from seed (they still have not started blooming yet) and set it on the picnic table. At the end of a hot summer day, a light chocolate fragrance is emitted from the burgundy blossoms.

chocolate cosmos

Chocolate cosmos by dmp, 2017

Orange tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum) are in full bloom right now. Because of the lily leaf beetle, I have my true lilies clustered in 2 locations so I can hand-pick the little buggers off on a daily basis. Second generation beetles are out but after squishing about a dozen, I have not noticed any more these past few days. Tiger lilies spread fairly fast because of the numerous black bulbils that are produced in the axils of the leaves. They are native to China and reputedly, the bulbs can be cooked and eaten although I have never tried doing so.

tiger lilies

Orange tiger lilies by dmp,2017

Plants for hummingbirds dot the yard including flowering quince, azaleas, bee balm, salvias, red morning glories trumpet vines and nasturtiums. On the deck are window boxes filled with nasturtiums including more compact ‘Peach Melba’ along with some longer vining ones that I save the seeds from. Nasturtiums are also edible so the flowers and leaves can be used to add a peppery flavor to salads. The seeds have been pickled and used as a substitute for capers.

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Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ by dmp, 2017

Enjoy this beautiful summer and take some time to see how well your plants are doing. If your yard is lacking an infusion of color, think about what you can add to make next summer’s scene more vibrant.

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Treebeard admiring the front flowers by dmp,2017

Happy Gardening!

Dawn