Campbell River, British Columbia 
 Gardening in Campbell River

Garden Thoughts for July

Ah July! Now is the time of year when all your hard springtime work is
paying off. But when your roses have finished their first flush, and all
the peonies and irises are over, there can be a bit of a lull. Many
gardeners fill this gap with annuals, and once they get going, and if you
remember to water them regularly, annuals can do a great job.

Lazy gardeners like me, however, look to perennials to retain interest in
the garden throughout the season. There are a few backbone perennials that
bloom for a period of months, or that are indispensable for their foliage.
This month, I'll list a few of my favourites for sunny areas, and next month
I'll discuss those more suited to the shade.

The first that comes to mind is Daylilies. But each blossom only lasts for
one day - hence the name, you say? That's true. If you plant several
different types of Daylilies, the bloom period will cover months.
Stella d'Oro goes from May to November non-stop in my garden, and there are many other prolonged bloomers. Even when not in flower, Daylilies, with their
green fountain of foliage can transform a group of plants into a garden, and
provide a solid anchor around which to plant the more frilly plants.
Daylilies also have the benefits of growing nearly anywhere, smothering
weeds, and they're prolific enough to thwart deer and slugs.

Another indispensable plant for gardens in our area is the Perennial
Geranium. These are not to be confused with the red and pink bedding
Geraniums that people make rows of in the summer. The perennial Geranium is
a graceful plant, usually forming weed smothering mounds of soft rounded
leaves. The types most often seen are the purple and blues which bloom in
June and July, but there are many varieties with pink, red or white flowers.
The soft pink Geranium "Cambridge Pink" is a favourite for filling in around
the edges of beds, blooms from spring till fall, and blends with all sorts
of colour schemes. Another advantage of these plants is that you only need
to buy one of each sort. In spring, every shoot you pull off the newly
sprouting clump will easily root and form its own plant.

A garden with only geraniums and daylilies would be trouble free and nearly
complete all on its own. But wait, there's more! Siberian Iris is another
must have. It's royal blue flowers appear in June with the first roses, but
the spiky clump of leaves looks great all year and are wonderful in the
centre of large containers. Montbretia (a.k.a. Crocosmia) is similarly
shaped and has sprays of orange flowers towards the end of summer that dry
and last past Christmas in the garden. I wouldn't be without it, although
it does spread a little too vigorously.

Another garden staple that lasts from early spring through the winter is the
Sedum "Autumn Joy". Experiment with the other sedums - some are variegated,
some more low growing, but none compare to Autumn Joy. This perennial
starts out as a mound of fleshy light green leaves that gives a nice solid
counterpoint to peonies and foxgloves. Gradually, flowers start to form
that look not unlike broccoli for most of the summer. In August these
flowers open up a bright pink, and over the course of the fall, they change
to dark red on straw coloured stems. If not knocked down by snow, these
stay presentable until next spring's cleanup.

A few other perennials for sunny areas to consider are: Lamb's ears,
Alchemilla molis (Ladies Mantle), Oregano (careful, it will spread), and
Yarrow (Summer Pastels is a nice mix). Most Bergenias, Hostas, and
Heucheras will do fairly well in sunny areas in Campbell River too, even
though they are technically shade plants.

When you're planning a new or refurbished garden bed, you'll want to include
exciting, ephemeral attention getters such as tulips, roses, peonies,
lilies, lilacs, buddileas, michealmas daisies, and summer bulbs. Add some
evergreen shrubs for winter interest. Then fill in the remaining spaces
with some of the plants I discussed above. You'll be rewarded with a garden
that varies, but remains interesting throughout the year. The perennials
will grow quickly, and within a few years, your garden will look like it's
been there forever.

Karen Barber is an architectural and landscape designer in Campbell River.

Her company is Madrona Design, which sponsors this Gardening in Campbell River webpage.

 Check out her site as she has added a discussion page to her website.
Like a BB where people can post questions etc. get there by clicking on the button below...

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