'Constance Spry' was the first English Rose introduced by David Austin and is still widely grown today. It produces magnificent, pure rose pink, deeply-cupped blooms of luminous delicacy. It has a strong myrrh fragrance; in fact, it was this rose that introduced the myrrh fragrance to the English Roses. Unlike later English Roses which repeat bloom all season, 'Constance Spry' flowers once, in early summer. The growth is very strong with large leaves and many thorns. Color: deep pink. Flower: double/full bloom. Fragrance: strong myrrh. Grows to 12 ft as a climber. RHS "Award of Garden Merit."
The name says it all: ‘Scentsation’ is a sweetly fragrant honeysuckle. Botanically, this is a type of Lonicera periclymenum, also known as European honeysuckle, a beautiful, non-aggressive vine (unlike its highly invasive Japanese cousin). ‘Scentsation’ flowers mid-spring to late summer. Removing spent flower clusters prolongs bloom. Flowers fade to form red berries, which birds gobble in fall. Vines grow 8 to 10 feet tall by 5 to 6 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Why we love it: The sweet fragrance is tough to beat, especially in early evening. It’s the perfect vine to perfume supper under the stars.
It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white, and you can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7), light blue ‘President Grevy' (Zones 3-7) and white ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.
Take your yard to the dark side by adding a drift of ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera (Alternanthera dentata). This easy growing annual thrives in whatever weather summer throws at it—heat, humidity, thunderstorms or drought. Use ‘Purple Knight’ to deliver color to planting beds, or tuck it into a container design where it happily plays a thriller or filler role. If you like to gather garden bouquets, include this dark-leafed beauty in your plant palette. Stems make a pretty addition to a vase. Pinch plants when young to increase branching. Leaf color is darkest in full sun, but plants adapt well to part sun or part shade conditions. Plants grow 18 to 36 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide.
Blue is a coveted hue in most gardens, and lobelia delivers with season-long blooms. Waterfall Blue unfurls light blue blossoms, while other lobelia varieties open flowers in shades of purple, white, pale blue and bicolor blends. This pretty annual shines in hanging baskets or containers, where its trailing stems cascade to form waterfalls of blue. Grow it in part shade to full sun. In hotter regions, definitely give plants shade during the hottest part of the day. Trim plants to encourage a fresh flush of flowers, especially if summer heat causes them to look straggly. Lobelia flowers beckon butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow 8 to 12 inches tall and 24 to 30 inches wide.
Camellias steal the show when they burst into bloom, and Pink Perplexion is no exception. This is a sasanqua camellia, known for its small leaves and ability to grow well in containers and landscape beds. Pink flowers up to 3 inches across cover this beauty in fall. Those pink blooms boast a color that defies description, which is why it’s called Pink Perplexion. Give it a spot in part shade to full sun with acidic soil. Plants grow 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 7-9. Good to know: Sansanqua camellias take well to pruning and shearing. Best timing is after flowering, in spring, before new flower buds form on stems in summer.
Purple flower clusters (8 inches long) cover this small tree all summer long. Blooms beckon pollinators of all kinds—it’s a great plant for a bee or butterfly garden. Gray-green leaves have purple undersides that complement blooms. Look for other chaste tree varieties with flowers in shades of pink or white. The branch structure is very architectural and adds good winter interest to a landscape. If your chaste tree develops lots of twiggy growth and starts looking more shrub-like, prune it in late winter. Remove all smaller twigs along five or six major trunks to create a tree-looking plant. Size: 6 to 8 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 6-9.
An expandable, powder-coated steel trellis drops into your pea patch in a matter of seconds and adds a splash of color to boot. It’s best to add pea supports just before planting, so you can place seeds precisely. Once peas break through soil, withhold water slightly (don’t let plants wilt) during the early growing time. This causes the peas to root deeper into soil. Peas tend to be shallow-rooted plants, which makes them more susceptible to drought and heat. Deeper roots help prolong the harvest season, as does a 2- to 4-inch mulch layer over soil around vines. Use a trellis like this to give peas a lift in spring, and when summer comes, draft it for supporting tomatoes, cucumbers or flowering vines.
Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) are native trees, making up much of the U.S. hardwood forest along the East Coast. As the name suggests, this is the maple that is tapped to release sap, which can be boiled down to make maple syrup. In addition to their sweet sap, sugar maples are famous for their stunning fall color. This maple makes a good shade tree. If planted in a row, it can form an elegant allee and effective windbreak. This grouping shows Fall Fiesta sugar maple (Acer saccharum ‘Bailsta’), which boasts strong, rapid growth and a rounded form. Leaves resist summer heat, wind and drought. Sugar maple trees grow 60 to 75 feet tall and up to 30 to 40 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Velvety red flowers with yellow centers give ‘Rebecca’ clematis star power in the garden. Vines grow to a modest height (6 to 8 feet), which makes this clematis a good choice for a trellis, fence row or winding through shrub roses. Flower color shifts more toward purple on plants tucked into shade. To coax the reddest hue, make sure vines receive some sun during the day. Blooms measure 6 to 7 inches across and appear all summer long. Like all clematis, ‘Rebecca’ grows best when roots are shaded and kept cool. Do this by planting it behind a shrub or using a thick mulch layer. Vines grow 6 to 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 10.
It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white. You can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include light blue ‘President Grevy (Zones 3-7, shown), wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7) and white ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.
Getting water to plants is one of the top tasks you’ll tackle. If you grow any container gardens, watering is a daily event in the heat of summer. Invest in a quality hose that’s guaranteed for life, along with some kind of easy-to-use hose storage. Include a hose end watering wand, nozzle with multiple patterns and watering can with a detachable rose (the nozzle part that turns a water stream into a shower). For planting beds and large gardens, choose a sprinkler, or invest in drip irrigation. Last but not least, when buying a hose, pick up a pack of flat washers that fit your hose. Replace washers inside hose ends annually, at the start of every gardening season, to reduce drips and wasted water.
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a native tree known for its towering size (70 to 100 feet) and yellow, tulip-like blooms that open in summer. ‘Little Volunteer’ brings that stately beauty down to a size that fits modern gardens. Leaves offer an unusual shape and shimmer in the wind. Look for gold fall color and cup-like fruits made of seeds. It’s a medium-fast grower, reaching a size of 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide in 4 years (starting with a 3- to 5-foot sapling). The strong pyramidal shape looks elegant in winter, especially when wet snows stick to branches. This is one tree you won’t regret planting. Size: to 20 feet tall by 9 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Responsible green features make the playhouse good for the family and the environment. The structure is clad inside and out with rough-sawn spruce boards, which are naturally weather resistant. Rainwater is captured through integral roof gutters to be deposited in a catchment barrel. The attached succulent and herb garden can then be watered using the rain barrel spigot. An outdoor chaise for one or two provides a spot to relax and is movable to follow the sun. A reclaimed sail has been repurposed to provide shade for the large south facing window in the summer. When opened, windows on both sides capture passing breezes and allow for passive cooling. One gable end of the playhouse includes a colorful climbing wall.
English Rose 'Kew Gardens' is an unusual English rose with small, single flowers clustered in very large heads somewhat like a hydrangea. Though more like a species hybrid in appearance, it enjoys all the strengths of a David Austin rose. The young buds are soft apricot opening to pure white, with a hint of soft lemon behind the stamens. After bloom, small red hips which should be removed to encourage repeat flowering from early summer through the end of the season. It is extremely healthy, nearly thornless and produces masses of white blooms, lending the bush the appearance of being covered with snow. Its growth is bushy and upright. It makes a lovely flowering hedge. Repeat-flowering. Grows to approximately 5 ft tall x 3 ft wide. RHS "Award of Garden Merit." (David Austin 2009, Ausfence).
When tomatoes are weirdly deformed, that’s known as catfacing. It usually happens on the bottom end of the tomato and results from cool temperatures (50 F to 55 F) during pollination. Usually when temps fall that low, tomato flowers drop from the plant. But if a blossom has been pollinated and the evening is unusually cool, the flower can get stuck on the newly forming tomato. The stuck-on bloom doesn’t allow the tomato to enlarge and form freely. This typically occurs on tomato plants that are tucked into soil too early in spring. It also happens in cool-weather regions when late summer evenings dip into chilly fall-like temps while plants are still bearing fruit. Catfacing doesn’t affect tomato flavor, so you can still eat the deformed ‘mater. Just cut out the brown, woody parts.
If you don’t have room for a 50- to 100-foot tree, check out Hot Wings maple. It’s a type of tartarian maple (Acer tartaricum ‘GarAnn’) discovered and developed in Colorado, which means it tolerates dry, alkaline conditions. Trees open typical small, yellow maple flowers in spring after leaves appear. Flowers fade to form bright red seeds (helicopters) in summer, which contrast brilliantly with the green leaves. Fall color features shades of orange-red and yellow. This is more of a spreading maple that can be grown as a shrub or small tree. Expect trees to grow 20 to 25 feet tall and 18 to 20 feet wide in ideal conditions. At higher elevations, Hot Wings grows 15 to 18 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10.
Large pink trumpet shape blooms cover mandevilla vine during summer, conjuring scenes of tropical beauty. This vine is a stunner that’s often grown in containers or hanging baskets. It makes a striking pillar of color when grown on a pot obelisk trellis. In most zones mandevilla is an annual vine that grows 6 to 8 feet in a single season. Overwinter indoors in a cool spot (above 45 degrees F). Leaves may drop, so water just enough it keep it alive. Growth will resume in spring. Mandevilla is hardy in Zones 10-11, where it can reach 10 to 15 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Why we love it: Mandevilla is easy to grow and infuses even the northernmost garden with a tropical ambience.