This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
This is it folks, the final lap of the summer gardening season when all our hard work should come to a crescendo in the form of a giant horticultural orgasm.
August is high summer for us in the northwest and perennials should be at the height of their glory, ornamental grasses in a state of perfection, roses resplendent with color and annuals still lush and inviting.
While spring is a beautiful time of the year, summer has so much more to offer in terms of color, form and texture. The choices are almost endless and with a little planning and some consistent maintenance this seasonal climax can happen in our gardens year after year. I know, I make it sound so easy don't I?
The truth of course is that perfection in the garden is a moving target. The entire composition of a garden is constantly changing as the season progresses so it is difficult to bring it all together at one time. But with enough variety we should be able to create the overall illusion that everything looks fabulous (despite having some plants that will be past their blooms and fading away). The trick is to be ready to fill in the gaps when they appear and keep the eye moving from one star to another.
Just yesterday I noticed that the black aphids had arrived to finish off the nasturtiums. They will come out this week and something yet to be determined will replace them for the balance of the summer.
The delphiniums that I cut back a month ago are already 3 feet tall and full of buds again.
The wife's Campanula lactiflora with its powder blue flowers that stand 4-5 feet tall are just about finished but right behind them are both Joe Pye and Helianthus Lemon Queen, ready to take center stage and keep the excitement going. When they come into bloom I will completely forget about the cutback Campanula.
Gardens are a lot like stage productions. There are many different actors, changing sets and scenes and a series of acts that all come together in the end to form the play. As the play progresses it ultimately ends in some sort of crescendo and that is exactly what should happen in the month of August in our gardens.
This is not the time to toss in the towel but rather it is the time to get our second wind and finish off what we started five months ago.
So get out to the nursery and see what you can add to the garden that will keep it interesting and exciting. Our goal should be nothing short of a standing ovation. We'll talk about the encore next month!
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.