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Early Summer Transition

It’s another transition time in the perennial gardens here in the Denver area, as the early summer bloomers start to fade, and the mid-summer bloomers start to show off. In my yard, the Salvia is starting to fade a bit. The German and Japanese Iris have been done for a couple weeks now. The Delphinium will usually hold over through this transition period and bloom for several more weeks. In design, it’s usually the “spaces between” things that are most important, and that’s how I feel about these transition periods as well. You can almost feel the garden step back and take a breath, as the big summer bloomers build up for their big show. One of the nicest things about this little breath between the blooms is the prominence of Lavender. Remember how ratty it looked a couple months ago when you thought about just tearing it up? Now’s the time you get rewarded for your patience with this important part of the visual and olfactory garden, as the spikes stand out in a delicate show against the green of the rest of the garden. I bicycled recently along the California coast, and was amazed at some of the enormous Lavender plants growing out there where they get constant moisture and constant mild temps. I’ll be blogging about that trip here in case you’re interested. My first daylilies began blooming just the other day, so I should have a steady march of different varieties blooming for the next 6 weeks or so. Also, most of my roses are just starting their summer-long blooming festival as well. And of course, the summer lilies (such as Asiatic Lilies) are starting

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their show.   Tasks for this transition period:

  • Cut back the Salvia. Don’t wait for it to fade too much, as the plant is already starting to spend energy converting those flowers to seeds. By cutting the flowers back, the plant will bloom again in a few weeks.
  • Fertilize – use a well-balanced fertilizer, not one designed for green grass or annuals. See this post for more information on fertilizers.
  • Pinch the buds from the mums then stop. The little buds that develop as the mum plants get bigger in the early summer should be constantly pinched out up until July 4. By pinching them out early, you ensure that when the plant blooms later in the season, the blooms will explode all together rather than trickling out. It also lets the early plant energy go into building the basic plant, then the later energy build the blooms. Bigger plants AND better blooms! If you haven’t done any pinching yet, do it now, then stop.
  • Divide and multiply – If you’ve got large bunches of plants that need division, it’s not too late to divide them. While it’s always hard to do for plants like daylilies that haven’t bloomed yet, dividing earlier in the year will result in a much more vigorous plant next year – one that will bloom. A little sacrifice this year for a reward next year and beyond…
  • Birds, bath, and beyond – If you have a water feature, you’ll notice the birds love it as the hot summer comes to us. If you don’t but want to attract birds, keep in mind that a water source is one of the key components to attracting birds to the yard. Keep it fresh and full. My feeder activity has finally slowed down, as the breeding
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    activity seems to have slowed. I’ve heard from other birders that the hummingbird activity this year is way down, but I am getting a few. The big activity usually kicks in when the flowers they like most are in big bloom – things like Agastache and Mexican Sage.

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