From the June/July 2010 Issue:

Keep Landscape Fresh

How to help your landscape avoid a swoon in June — or July or August

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enlarge | ‘Angel Face Blue’ angelonia snuggles up to white petunias and creeping Jenny in a patio container. Courtesy of Proven Winners/
Lazy gardeners, rejoice!

You can easily keep your landscape looking fresh as a Shasta daisy all summer.

Lay the groundwork for months of beauty with good soil (containing organic matter such as mushroom compost), a color scheme, and showy base plants such as perennials and shrubs. Then, with the addition of strategically placed annuals and container plantings, gardens will require little tending to maintain their good looks.

“You still need to deadhead perennials to encourage new blooms, but lots of new annuals like the self-cleaning petunias don’t need it,” says Tim Serinese of Timothy’s Center for Gardening in Robbinsville.

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enlarge | The top tier of this Loveladies garden by Reynolds Landscaping includes a perennial mix of daisies, sedum, pink hydrangeas, and Russian sage. The lower tier blends pink and purple Wave petunias, lavender lantana, and million bells. Photo by tanek Hood/Reynolds landscaping
Getting Started

Begin with a plan. Peg Reynolds of Reynolds Garden Center in Manahawkin says to visit garden centers regularly so you know what’s in bloom when. Draw a plan using plants you like, tall ones in back, and site them based on their sun needs and mature size. Read plant labels and seed packets to place them correctly.

Reynolds plans landscapes by color groups, such as her favorites: whites, pinks, and lavenders. “Other people like deeps: yellow, red, orange. It depends on whether you want harmony or contrast.”

If you install perennials, you can plant them once and they’ll stick around for years. Wonderfully textured hostas and ferns perform well in shade, for example, and sun mainstays include coneflowers (echinacea), black-eyed Susans (rudbeckia), Shasta daisies, ornamental grasses (Miscanthus sinensis and fountain grass), and reblooming day lilies such as the red ‘Jersey Earlybird Cardinal.’

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enlarge | A bright blush of ‘Paprika’ roses from the Oso Easy collection blooms in front of a slumping perennial. Courtesy of Proven Winners/
Sure-Fire Shrubs

But perennials are optional. “Many people, besides their shrubs, only do pots for color,” Reynolds says. That may be partly because of a boom in shrub choices.

John Kennedy and Michael Azzolini of Sickles Market in Little Silver have many favorites, including Knock Out and Oso Easy collections of long-blooming, fungus-resistant roses.

Kennedy praises Forever & Ever and Endless Summer hydrangea collections that stretch the bloom season, and Azzolini likes cold-resistant gardenias — ‘Frostproof,’ ‘Chuck Hayes,’ and ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ — that tempt with heady scent and glossy, deep-green foliage. “‘Frostproof’ is the best,” he says.

For foliage drama, Kennedy likes variegated boxwood and ‘Golden Ruby’, ‘Golden Nugget’, and ‘Orange Rocket’ barberries, which also resist deer and disease. For variegated foliage plus blossoms, he suggests ‘My Monet’ weigela, which has leaves of white, pink, and green plus fuchsia blossoms, and ‘Kaleidoscope’ abelia, with small white flowers and coral-green-yellow foliage.

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enlarge | Containers filled with flowers by Reynolds Landscaping accent this waterfront home in Beach Haven Park. The shade pot on the top step combines green potato vine, coleus, and impatiens. Planter boxes and pots feature colorful annuals, while gardens leading to the dunes include Blue Dune Grass, day lilies, and sedum, plus established Hollywood Junipers. A zoned micro-drip irrigation system provides a controlled water output. Photo by Tanek Hood/Reynolds landscaping
Container Plants and Annuals

To supplement shrubs and perennials, bring in container plants and annuals.
“There are definitely more people doing container plants now,” Serinese says. Pots can be limited to one variety, such as the preplanted Footprints product line, or combinations, often with a tall central plant complemented by mid-height and trailing plants.

Containers appeal because they’re planted without stooping and then placed. Also, pots can be moved to prominent garden spots while peaking and to obscure places when they’re less than their best.

Azzolini mixes perennials and annuals in containers. “Then if something poops out, I put something new in,” he says. “A Proven Winners 4-inch pot gives instant gratification.” He likes to pair creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), a chartreuse trailing foliage perennial, with impatiens in containers in shade.

Jody Nachman, also of Sickles Market, suggests succulents such as kalanchoe and sedums in containers because they need infrequent watering.

Many annuals and tender perennials add months of color from containers or beds: (lower-growing) pansies, scaevola, verbena, caladiums, impatiens, and ‘Nonstop’ begonias as well as (taller-growing) New Guinea impatiens, angelonia, snapdragons, elephant ears, cosmos, and cleome. Dahlias, which come in many heights, do double-duty too. (Dahlias and elephant ears can be started in March indoors, Kennedy adds.)

If you planted cold-tolerant annuals such as pansies, violas, and stock, they’ll be finishing in June so now it’s time to bring in warm-season annuals that bloom until frost. These include petunias (sun), torenia (shade/part-shade), coleus (shade to sun, depending on variety), lantana (sun), and tropicals (sun) such as hibiscus, a Serinese favorite.
Nachman appreciates tropicals too. In addition to hibiscus, she recommends the exotically scented jasmine and vining mandevilla.

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enlarge | Spirit ‘Appleblossom’ cleome brightens planting beds adjacent to a patio (foreground and behind the table). Courtesy of Proven Winners/
Care and Feeding

To keep your garden fresh:

• Deadhead properly. “Cut back the bloom and the stem to encourage new growth,” Reynolds says.

• Pinch back trailing plants to encourage fullness.

• Water less often but soak the roots. Serinese says too-frequent watering encourages disease and shallow roots.

• Monitor plants during windy weather. Parched plants wilt, lose foliage, and drop their flowers, Azzolini says.

• Feed annuals to maintain their performance schedule: In the ground, fertilize every 10 to 14 days; in containers, about once a week. “Most people don’t understand how much [container] plants need food,” Serinese says. “The food washes out every time you water.”

• Perennials in the ground can go two weeks to a month between feedings. Shrubs can go longer.

• Recommended fertilizers include Osmocote, a time-release product used in soil at planting time; Miracle Gro, for a quick boost; Holly-tone for evergreens and acid-loving plants; Plant-tone, an all-purpose organic food for beds and lawns; fish emulsion and kelp, all-around organic products. Use as directed.

Mary Vinnedge
a lazy gardener whose favorite summer plants include jasmine, reblooming day lilies, and caladiums.

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