July is a great time to give select plants a hair cut to encourage a second set of blooms in the fall. Certain plants can start looking tired and haggard in the hot summer sun.
A little TLC mid-month will reward you with extended blooming season and delights in the garden.
Climbing Rose Care
Climbing roses weave and tangle their arms together like two lovers entwined that need separated by concerned parents. Climbers send up "sports" along the long canes which throw up a multitude of flower buds. My 'New Dawn' climbing rose from Heirloom Roses
is a repeat flowering superstar.
With little cajoling this June it continually bloomed and stretched its long arms out to the sun. In order to get a second flush of soft blush pink blooms, I donned armor to protect my arms and hands from the steely bite of its thorns. Intertwined amongst its long arching canes, deep purple Clematis 'Etoile Violette' makes a perfect partner.
The clematis blooms prolifically after the rose is slumbering to extend the flowering cycle on a rusted metal arbor. The pruning shears come out when the clematis loses its flower petals and dons golden, wispy seed heads to give both a much needed haircut. ‘New Dawn’ blooms on old wood, so it’s best to schedule a trim after its completed blooming. Make sure to discard any leaves that show signs of powdery mildew or black spot. These leaves should not be composted. Be ready to have an overflowing yard debris bin as the rose canes can grow up to 20’ long.
Clematis are often regarded as the "Queen of the Garden." Showy flowers erupt in abundance June through September. Plant in sunny, well-drained location and keep roots mulched or shaded. Pruning clematis helps the vine to be both shapely and productive. Clip out any weak or old stems. After their first full year in the ground, cutting the vines down to 18-24" will encourage fullness and strong vine development.
Group 1 or A - Early Spring Bloomers
Group A clematis flower early on growth produced the previous summer and fall. They should be pruned right after spring flowering is complete. Be careful not to cut off more than one third of the overall stem length.
Group 2 or B - Mid Spring to Early Summer Bloomers
This group produces flowers on both prior year and current season growth. The best time to prune them is in early spring, 6-8 weeks before flowering. Trim back strong stems to the first large swollen flower bud. Always work from the top down towards the ground.
Group 3 or C- Mid Summer to Fall Bloomers
Later season bloomers develop flower buds during the current growing season. Cut back vines hard in late winter or early spring, to stimulate a flush of new growth. Starting at ground level, trim back stems to the first large swollen flower bud.
Euphorbia characias wulfennii flowers are tiny, surrounded by bright, lemon green leaves colored like petals, called bracts. I love the bracts that shoot their heads up into the sky in late spring and early summer. I'm willing to keep the flower heads on longer by spray painting them bright colors. E. c. wulfennii has the tendency to spread easily by seed if not kept in check. The spray paint seals the seed in the flower heads. The bright colors of peacock blue, candy apple red and hot pink spray paint extend the season. More importantly, glittering colors slow the cars flying down our neighborhood street to protect children playing near the street.
I do not provide euphorbias fertilizer to keep them lean. Euphorbias are generally evergreen through winter in the Pacific Northwest. When the spray paint has faded from scorching summer sun, I cut back each stalk back. Shoots are biennial so be careful to cut back only second year branches as close to the base as possible to encourage plenty of new shoots for flowering the following year. The clump itself is not long lived, but should last five to ten years if kept in ideal dry soil conditions.
Part of the onion family, Allium christophii, A. schubertii, A. ‘Drumstick’ and A. ‘Gladiator’ make great dried cut flowers for indoor arrangements in their natural wheat color. Alliums take to painting like puppies and children to cool water on a hot summer day. Try leaving them in the garden and spray paint in bright colors. Spray painted alliums add drama to a border waiting for the next color explosion from seasonal perennials.
Plant allium bulbs in fall for a great summer show. Alliums look best tucked amongst shrubs and perennials where they burst out late spring or early summer as an unexpected surprise. Tugging on the stem will let you know when it’s time to remove them from the garden. The stem and flower head should easily come out of the ground.
By taking a little time to refresh, restore and prune mid-summer your garden will always look fabulous.
BeeDazzled Gardens & Designs Specializes in creating fragrant, organic, low maintenance garden vignettes that add value and pleasure to a home or business exterior and landscape. Our specialty is staged, perennial bed planting designs, seasonal potted containers and garden renovations. Learn more about Dawn at her profile on theMulch.com.
Photo credit on all photos: Dawn Hummel