The top ten reasons to visit the garden center in July from the Whistling Gardener

There has never been any question in my mind as to why gardeners come to garden centers in April and May. They are starved for color and ready to get their fingers back into the soil. But July is a different matter
The Nursery in July is a source of inspiration for the "still not perfect" garden. Photo credit: Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

There has never been any question in my mind as to why gardeners come to garden centers in April and May. They are starved for color and ready to get their fingers back into the soil. But July is a different matter.

Here are my top ten reasons for gardeners to visit garden centers this month.

1. Plenty of parking spaces. This is probably not a huge issue but for some customers it is a consideration especially if they are mobility impaired. Getting close to the main gate can be an important factor.

2. No lines at the register. I will be the first to admit that in spring and the month of May in particular it can be crazy busy at the checkout counter. July is a much slower pace all around and it takes a lot less time to get through the checkout line.

3. Sales. Yes, often times garden centers are clearing out product in July and there are deals to be had. Granted the selection isn’t what it was back in the spring but a gardener can find some super buys on pottery, plants and other items that the retailer is long on and doesn’t want to hold over to the following year.

4. There is going to be a garden wedding and you are in a panic. This happens at least four to five times a year for us. Parents come in asking what will be in bloom in August or September that they can add to their yard now.

5. Your spring baskets have crapped out. No matter how good of a gardener you are often times the baskets you purchased in April or May have become so root bound that no amount of Miracle-Gro is going to resurrect them. Or maybe you just need to replace one or two plants in the baskets. Either way they need to be freshened up.

6. PG Hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are at their pinnacle of glory in July, especially the sun loving PG hydrangeas with their white and pink fluffy blooms. Same is true for the shade loving macrophylla forms with their blue or pink blossoms. For sun or shade, July is the month to buy a hydrangea.

7. Summer blooming perennials. Be it Rudbeckias or Echinaceas or the new hybrid Echibeckias or a whole host of other summer blooming perennials that were AWOL in spring, July is the month to scope out and add some of these butterfly and hummingbird attractants not to mention cut flower candidates.

8. Summer tropicals. Again, these heat lovers like cannas and Taro and bananas were simply not available in the spring. I have harped for years about saving room for the “June Stuff” and in the month of July the June Stuff looks even better. Same is true for annuals like Salvia Amistad and Chocolate Cosmos and Zinnias.

9. Instant color. Customers know that garden centers have more mature plants in July that are ready to plunge into the garden for immediate gratification. No need to grow anything on for six weeks. You can buy a nice patio container and set it on the deck and simply add water and fertilizer and enjoy it the rest of the summer.

10. The number one reason why gardeners come to the garden center in July is that they are looking for inspiration. Their garden is still not perfect. It lacks something and they are hoping that they will find the solution at the nursery. Often times it is a lack of color or an empty spot that needs filling. They simply need a fix after the spring frenzy and they know from experience that they will find new and different choices in July from what they saw back in the spring.

You may very well have other reasons to come to the garden center this month and I would love to hear them. Write me at and share them with me.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.


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