Late Summer Bloom

Steve Allgeier
Carroll County Master Gardener Program

As my grandfather always said "by the time you make it to the 4th of July the summer is almost over" and that's true. It always seems that this season is racing to a quick end by this time in July. However, that does not mean the perennial garden is spent, or done with, especially if you have "stocked" your garden for the entire season.

Too often we run to the nursery in the beginning of the season and purchase what is in bloom (impulsive Americans) and fail to take into consideration the balance of the season. By the time the 4th of July rolls around the garden has typically lost a lot of its color, especially if you have not planted Daylilies or Phlox (these are true midsummer treats).

However, there are several other very reliable garden perennials that can give your bed a late punch of color and are easy to grow. Here are a few suggestions:

Windflower (Anemone japonica) - This is a dependable late perennial that stands out even in partial shade. The flower is an oversized cosmos shaped bloom with a green center that is available in shades of pink, purple and white. The handsome 3 lobed leaves are attractive and seem to be ignored by deer. It will grow any where from 2 - 3.5' tall, but will not overwhelm the garden, since 50 - 70% of this height is the flower stem. Windflower will slowly form large clumps that bloom from the end of July - September (I have seen some blooming into October). They prefer a well-amended soil that is slightly moist and some light shade.

Brazilian verbena (Verbena bonariensis) - Not a true perennial, more of a biennial, but very permanent in our area. Unfortunately, the supposedly hardy Verbena "Homestead Purple" has burned too many Carroll residents. It typically dies out after a cold or wet winter here. However the stately late blooming form, bonariensis, has proven to be a very reliable garden plant. The tall violet blooms rest on 3 - 4' stems and are very attractive to butterflies and bees all through August and September. Again this is not going to push the other plants out of the way since the foliage is not that tall. It freely seeds so some thinning is required during the season. Full sun and average soil is all that is seems to need.

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