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"The Best Summer-Blooming Perennials for Sun"

Summer is in full swing right now and the perennial garden is bursting with color. While the spring-blooming perennials are just a memory, it's time for the summer-blooming perennials to take center stage. There are lots of summer-blooming perennials for sun that span the entire season from early summer to early autumn and many are my favorites. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Echinacea 'Green Jewel'Coneflowers are some of the easiest perennials to grow in the garden. Insects and diseases are not a problem, they are drought tolerant, grow well in hot, sunny spots in the garden, and, probably their best attribute, they begin blooming in very early summer and continue blooming all summer long right into autumn. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden and their large flowers are very long lasting when cut. The flowers are held on tall, stiff, sturdy stems that seldom need staking. Hybridizers in recent years have been doing a lot of work developing new colors. One of the more unique new colors hybridizers have developed is green. 'Green Jewel' features flowers with single, light-green rays surrounding a large, dark-green cone. It blooms abundantly from midsummer through late summer. Its flowers are three to five inches wide and hold their green color with age. It has a nice compact, upright habit, requiring no staking. With the flowers, it stands just two feet tall.

Daylily 'Cherry Cheeks'Summer is the season for daylilies and they thrive in sunny spots in the garden. There are literally thousands of different daylily varieties, so it's hard to narrow it down to just a few, but my favorite types are the rebloomers, because they extend the bloom period for weeks and weeks right through the whole summer. Although each individual flower lasts just a day, the rebloomers repeat bloom all summer long. 'Cherry Cheeks' has rosy-purple petals that have white ribs running down the center of each petal on this tetraploid daylily. An apricot-yellow throat contrasts nicely with the rosy-purple petals. The flowers are six inches wide and repeat bloom all summer long.

Daylily 'Wineberry Candy'Daylily 'Wineberry Candy' is another rebloomer. It's a small-to-medium daylily that grows just under two feet tall. It bears five-inch-wide, lightly-ruffled, pale-rose-pink flowers with a mulberry eyezone. A yellow-green throat contrasts nicely with the eyezone. The flowers are quite eye catching. It’s one of the earliest daylilies to bloom, beginning blooming in late May and it repeats bloom all summer long.

Phlox 'Peppermint Twist'Tall garden phlox is a staple in the sunny summer perennial garden. It's is prized for its large panicles of colorful, and often fragrant, blooms. There are hundreds of different varieties with a bloom period that spans from early summer to early autumn. One of the most eye-catching of the newer varieties is called 'Peppermint Twist.' The flowers of this phlox are stunning. It bears large flower clusters that carry striking, bi-colored flowers. Each flower petal is bright pink with a distinct band of white running down the center, giving the flower a striking pinwheel pattern. The flowers bloom in midsummer atop compact, 16-inch stems and are colorful for weeks. Removing spent flowers encourages side shoots to develop, prolonging the bloom period. It also has good disease resistance. Because of its small size, it's a tall garden phlox that can be planted near the front of the flower bed or border, instead of in the back like most tall garden phlox.

Campanula 'Sarastro'Campanula is a summer-blooming perennial that thrives in sunny spots in the garden. Campanula 'Sarastro' is a newer variety with outstanding characteristics. It is a shorter, more compact improvement over other campanulas. It bears very-large, three-inch-long, dangling blue bells that are borne in clusters at the tips of its stems. The flower stems are held upright and stand slightly above the foliage. It begins blooming in early summer and continues to bloom all summer long. It's not uncommon for it to bloom four or more times throughout summer and into fall. It spreads slowly by underground rhizomes to form a handsome, round mound a foot and a half wide or more.

Veronica 'Twilight'Veronica is another summer-blooming perennial for sun. A more recent introduction combines early bloom and a compact plant habit. Called 'Twilight,' it bears medium-blue flowers that bloom from June to August on foot-tall stems. The flowers bloom above a compact clump of grayish-green foliage. It’s a very floriferous, long-blooming veronica that's a good choice for the front of the perennial flower garden.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Abundant Rainfall Means Mowing Lawn More Often"

Q. My lawn is green, lush, and beautiful to see. My problem is that I have to mow my lawn every three days because of the rain. I am using a four step lawn care fertilizer program. I would like to find and use a lawn care program that would make my lawn grow more slowly. What programs would help me accomplish this objective?

A. I'm afraid there is no such product to make your lawn grow more slowly. It sounds like you have a nice, healthy lawn that is growing well because you are taking good care of it, plus the abundant amount of rainfall we had last month was ideal grass-growing weather. The lawn will automatically grow slower if it receives less water, especially during hot and dry weather. I wish I had a better answer for you so you wouldn't have to mow as often, but when the lawn is growing fast, you'll need to mow more often to keep up with it. Sorry.

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