The season has just begun

The Whistling Gardener talks about some of his favorite perennials coming into bloom this month. Any planting you do this month is going to grow and bloom and be wonderful for 90-100 days.
The Whistling Gardener talks about some of his favorite perennials coming into bloom this month. 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.

I find it interesting that every year about this time I start to panic and find myself feeling like I have run out of time to plant any more flowers or veggies or whatever. “What’s the point?” I say to myself, by the time they get established the season will be over.

Then I stop and do the math and realize that first of all, it isn’t even summer yet (Friday the 21st is the official first day of summer, the longest day of the year for us) and as we all know summer doesn’t really start until July 5th in the northwest (after we get soaked watching fireworks on the 4th) and finally, the truth is that the months of August and September are when we usually get our best summer weather.

So, if you add that all up it means that any planting I do this month is going to grow and bloom and be wonderful for 90-100 days and that is plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So get planting!

Speaking of plants, there is a plethora of perennials coming into bloom this month and one of my favorites is the Sea Holly. This sturdy, sun loving, drought tolerant perennial is in the thistle family (no need to panic, it doesn’t spread like Canada thistle) and has the most incredible blue flowers you have ever laid your eyes on. There are several forms available ranging in heights from only 12 inches up to 2 feet tall. Most are some shade of steely blue. Miss Willmott’s Ghost is a silver form made famous by the 19th century gardener Ellen Willmott who liked to secretly spread seeds in other gardener’s yards.

As long as we are on a blue theme, Globe Thistle is another fun summer bloomer that comes on later after the Sea Hollies are finished. It sports silver/blue one inch balls that last forever and are great for flower arranging.

Russian Sage is yet another blue bloomer that is in bloom now and for a good blue flower in August Caryopteris is hard to beat (we have them in bloom now but only because we brought them in from California). All of these plants can be found on our sun loving, drought tolerant tables.

Lots of activities coming up this weekend. We will be offering a class on Gardening in the Shade taught by our resident designer Marti Civarra of Leaf Lessons Designs. Class starts at 10am and you can plan on being introduced to a whole gambit of plants that will thrive in shade be it dry or moist. If you have lots of shade in your garden this is the class to take.

Also on Saturday is the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens “Gardens of Merit” tour. You can purchase tickets here at the nursery or at the arboretum on the day of the tour (it is in Legion Park in north Everett) for a mere $10. While at the park you can also shop at their plant sale where I will be helping schlep plants for the good of the cause. And finally, you might as well buy a few raffle tickets for a chance to win over $2500 worth of garden goodies (including a tour hour consultation from yours truly). All of these activities go to help support this wonderful public garden. Hope to see you there.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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