Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Stars

by Leigh

The dog days of summer have arrived!  Have you ever wondered where that phrase came from?  
"Dog days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to August 11th.  Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun."

For me, the dog days of summer is the time where we spend more of our days inside than out.  Here in Oklahoma it's the humidity that's the killer….making 97 degree days feel like 110.  But even through the sweltering heat there are flowers that are at their peak, like the Dahlia pictured above.  I had never seen a Dahlia like this before.  Dahlias are quickly becoming one of my favorite perennials.  I found this stunning flower sitting by it's lonesome at Home Depot and I just knew I needed to bring it home.  It has bloomed continuously with little attention from me.  But according to the experts, Dahlias need full sun, a slightly acidic soil, thorough waterings and fertilizer every month.  Mine is planted in full sun, alkaline soil, a couple waterings a week and so far one dose of fertilizer and it's thriving!

Texas Star Hibiscus is another new favorite of mine.  It's a tall (4-7' tall) with large (3-4") crimson colored blooms.  It blooms June through October and is especially showy this time of year.  One word of warning…it's often mistaken for marijuana because of it's leaves.  As most plants it prefers a well drained soil, full sun and consistent water.  But that being said, this hardy hibiscus can also be grown in a backyard pond (so much for the well drained soil requirement).  They grow very rapidly and do not require much care.  It is frequented by Hummingbirds and butterflies.  

Most of you will probably recognize this stunner. It's Trumpet Vine.  It's important to consider the space before planting this vine due to it's invasive growth pattern.  It's the perfect choice to screen off an ugly fence or telephone pole.  Trumpet Vine attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  It has long slender pods that when they are dry crack open and the paper thin seeds spread easily in the wind. Collecting the seeds pods will help to prevent the vine from popping up in unwanted places.

Crape Myrtles….one of my all time favorites! "Pink Velour" Crape Myrtle has beautiful hot pink blooms that last for months.  This variety is easy to grow, drought tolerant and mildew resistant.  Just plant it and forget it!

Enjoy these prolific bloomers even when the dog days of summer arrive!


Dotti said...

Oh, what fun! Real garden tips from a landscape architect. These are all so pretty. Since we've found ourselves with a major relandscaping project this year, I'll be coming back to read this post. Yes, dog days have hit Kentucky, too. We're not at the unbearable stage just yet but I expect we'll see it soon enough. Also loved the background story for 'dog days'.

Carol said...

I love learning stuff like that! I am convinced that, advice aside, you are the plant whisperer! Just wish you lived closer!

terriporter said...

I agree with Carol . . . I don't think there is anything you couldn't make grow! Would love to see what you could do in our hot, dry desert. Cactus are about all I do well with! I adore Crepe Myrtle and would love to see that walkway at the Dallas Arboretum in the summer when it is in bloom. I'll bet it's quite a sight! Although it's the desert, we do have some rise in humidity at this time of year. We think 30% is extremely high! Dog days or not, it's our time to stay inside, keep cool and sing praises to the air conditioning gods!

Barb said...

What fabulous fiery blooms. We have no humidity and lots of coolness, especially at night, so I doubt any of these would grow at altitude. The Crepe Myrtle is fabulous!

kelly said...

yes leigh...it's pretty brutal in our neck of the woods. so thankful for tough beauties like these. and seeing your dahlias thriving, I might just have to try them again.

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