All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A

by Pernell Gerver

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"The Best Summer-Blooming Perennials"

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 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 'After Midnight'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 and the stems can grow up to four feet high on some varieties. The variety 'After Midnight' is a dwarf variety, growing just a foot tall that bears large, dark-magenta-purple flowers with a black-red cone. The flowers are fragrant, which is unique for purple coneflower. The large flowers bloom atop well-branched, blue-green foliage.

The best summer-blooming perennial for shade is Ligularia 'The Rocket.' It grows in the deepest, darkest shade there is. In my own garden, it's growing on the north side of my potting shed under the shade of tall trees. It never sees sun, but it's thriving and blooming. It forms a two-foot-wide mound of interesting, triangular leaves. The leaves have deeply-serrated edges, giving them a prehistoric look. In summer, five-foot-tall deep purple flower stems rise through the foliage and bear bright-yellow flowers.

Parcandana 'Dazzler' is a summer-blooming perennial with attractive foliage and eye-catching flowers. The foliage of this interesting perennial resembles iris or gladiolus. In midsummer it bears dozens of star-shaped flowers on slender flower spikes that rise above the foliage. Flower colors include a mix of bright red, orange, yellow, purple, and pink - many with freckled blooms.


Daylily 'Barbara Mitchell'Daylilies are in full bloom right now in the garden. There are over 45,000 different daylilies, so narrowing it down to just a few is challenging. I do have some favorites, though. 'Barbara Mitchell' is a small daylily with rounded, six-inch-wide, ruffled, lavender-pink flowers with a yellow-green throat. It begins blooming in early summer and repeats bloom all summer long. Its flower scapes are well branched, providing an abundance of blooms. It grows just 20 inches tall and is a good choice for a small garden.

Daylily 'Siloam Cinderella''Siloam Cinderella' is a medium daylily with four-inch-wide, wavy, blush-pink flowers with a rose-red eyezone. A chartreuse throat contrasts nicely with the eyezone. It begins blooming in May and repeats bloom all summer long. Its flowers bloom on 28-inch scapes.


Phlox 'Peppermint Twist'Tall garden phlox begins blooming in midsummer and continues into autumn. There are many different tall garden phlox with a wide range of flower colors and sizes. A new tall garden phlox that quickly became my favorite is '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.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Start Certain Vegetables Now for Fall Harvests"

Q. I have some pea seeds I didn't get a chance to plant this spring. I was wondering if I can still plant them now or is it too late? If I can, please tell me how to do it. Are there any other vegetables I can plant now? Thanks for your help!

A. It's a little too late now to sow peas. They're a cool-season crop that does best in the cool weather of spring. However, you can still plant your pea seeds later this summer, about mid August, to enjoy a fall crop instead. The seeds will germinate in the warm soil and the peas will be ready to pick during the cooler days of autumn. Depending on the type of pea, provide a support. I like to grow edible-podded, bush-type peas and I use what's called "pea brush" to support the vines. Pea brush is simply short twigs that are inserted into the ground around the pea seeds. Insert the pea brush right after sowing the seeds so that as the peas germinate and begin to grow they have a support to grow on right away. Climbing types of peas grow well on a trellis or tall stakes.

There are other vegetables that can still be planted right now. I like to succession sow beans every two weeks all summer long so I'm continually harvesting ripe beans right to frost. I also sow leaf lettuce seeds in shady areas of the vegetable garden. I