Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Keepers": More Late Summer Bloomers

Today, I want to continue talking about garden "keepers", plants that have earned their spot in our garden by providing bloom in late summer and by not requiring too much work from the gardener.

I mentioned in the last post that Jack and I had to remove a number of roses from our rose bed this spring because they appeared to be infected with rose rosette disease.  The old hybrid tea rose, Mr. Lincoln, is one of the roses that survived. If you enjoy cutting rose blooms to bring inside, Mr. Lincoln should be in your garden. He has a beautiful red bloom, a long stem, and wonderful fragrance. Like many roses, he takes a summer hiatus from blooming, resenting the hot, dry weather. But at the first hint of cool-down, he starts producing flower buds again. And he performs without being fussed over--he gets no spraying or fertilizing (except for occasional homemade compost).

Another plant that can be a significant source of bloom this time of year is not one that we normally plant for its bloom--hosta. The hostas that are blooming in August are usually Hosta plantaginea or a plantaginea hybrid. Sometimes called August lillies, plantaginea hostas are prolific bloomers and often have very large fragrant flowers. We have several hostas in our garden that are are of plantaginea parentage and they are all good performers, including 'Guacamole' and 'Fragrant Bouquet'. Both of these bloom earlier in the summer. 'Royal Standard' (below) is a plantaginea blooming in our garden now.

A neighbor down the street has mass plantings of a plantaginea hosta (not sure which kind), and their blooms make a real statement this time of year. See the mailbox planting below.

Last winter, I ran across the plantaginea hosta 'Aphrodite' online and immediately fell in love. It is suppose to have large, white, double blooms. I wanted to try it but I could not find it locally in the garden centers. A search of the mail order nurseries turned up very few places that sold it. But I found it last winter and it was shipped in early spring. The plant I received (from a very reputable nursery) was disappointing in size, only a small crown with a few roots, but I had such a hard time finding it that I kept the plant. It survived and produced a small plant but no flowers. So maybe next year, I'll be able to report on its flowers.

The final plant I want to mention today is the Hydangea paniculata 'Limelight'. Limelight is one of the many paniculata cultivars, which begin blooming in mid-summer. Our Limelight was planted last fall and is still getting established in our garden. Although it looks a bit gangly, it has given me a lot of bloom this year. Since the paniculatas, as a rule, bloom on new wood, I will prune it back a little next spring to encourage a more uniform shape. 

Next time, I will talk about annuals that performed well in our garden this year.

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