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FLOWERING GLORY: HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR SUMMER GARDEN

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/7/2006 | Gardening

Summertime and the livin is easy, right? Well, the gardenin is easy too. No other season supports such a wide variety of perennial flowers as summer, and for all those wondering how to care for your summer garden, we have a few tips regarding the kind of flowers that you should plant, as well as the areas of the garden in which to plant them.

First, you need to be careful while selecting the flowers that you wish to plant. The first step to getting the summer garden started is to visit your neighborhood nursery. Usually, the nursery owner will be able to guide you regarding the plants best suited to your garden, but dont rush into buying. Review all your choices and select the plants that will definitely grow in your part of the country. Nothing is more frustrating than buying a plant only to find that it wont grow because your garden has the wrong soil type or the balance between sun and shade isnt right!

Ideally, your perennial summer flowers should remain in the ground for at least two years, with a little help from you. As a general rule, you must choose a spot that receives partial to full sun. Actually, partial shade is best for most plants, though there are a few perennials that will grow in full shade. To give you a few examples, plants like begonia, lobelia, impatiens, viola, hypoestes, ageratum and fuchsia grow well in the shade, whereas the full sun favors plants like hibiscus, marigold, geranium, zinnia, cosmos, roses, petunia, daisy and verbena.

Whatever plants you choose for your summer garden, it is important to prepare the soil because the plants will remain in the same spot for a few years. The ideal soil for perennials should be fairly loose, clayey and rich in nitrogen compounds. While planting, be sure to follow the instructions that accompany the plant.

Another aspect of planting is to get the timing right. Perennials often vary widely with respect to their bloom period, which can be anywhere between a week and a month. Therefore, not all your plants will flower all summer. However, you can time it so that your garden can display blooms all summer. As an example, you may start off with columbines in spring, peonies in early summer, and black-eyed susans in late summer. In addition, here are some plants that bloom best in high summer: bearded or German iris, cardinal flower, daisy, foxglove, hollyhock, tuberose, poppy, clematis, honeysuckle, gladiolus, bougainvillea and peony. But this is only a representative sample and in no way represents a full list.

Once your summer garden is planted, the most important activity is watering, and this is an area where laziness is out. At least once a week, you will need to give the plants a thorough watering. In most cases, this means a daily sprinkle is not required, so your job is made easier. The other area you have to work on is weeding, but that is a relative problem.

Now you have the lowdown on how to care for your summer garden, go ahead and get started. Just remember to get the right seeds for your patch of ground