In the first part of this series, we discussed thinking about spring. If you missed it, you can find it here: https://www.mmgardendesigns.com/single-post/2019/02/14/Planning-For-a-Multi-Season-Garden-Part-I Now it's time to start thinking about the summer phase of your garden. This sounds a little easier than it is. Sure, early summer is relatively easy, but in the height of the dog days of summer, when the heat and humidity of July and August are nearly unbearable, many gardens (and gardeners) fizzle out. Many gardeners turn to perennials for their summer gardens, but there a whole host of shrubs that can get you through the summer with much less work than perennials can.
Here are some great summer shrub suggestions:
Roses. Now wait a minute, I thought we were talking about easy care shrubs?! How did roses make the top of the list?? I admit, early on in my business roses would almost never make it into a client's garden. Japanese Beetles, Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust, OH MY! So much worse than lions, tigers and bears! I didn't want to put something in any of my client's gardens that was inevitably going to get some type of disease or have an issue and look terrible. Roses have come a long way! We have a client in Durham, CT that has a garden full of a wide variety of roses and they're stunning. There are Jackson and Perkins, David Austin and more. Here is a list from the Old Farmer's Almanac https://www.almanac.com/extra/best-disease-resistant-roses. One of my favorite roses is actually a double knock-out rose. They bloom much like a shrub rose but are a bit taller and disease resistant. Pink, red or white, you can't go wrong with these. They're strong bloomers that start in June and bloom strong until late September when they finally slow down.
Hydrangeas have so many varieties these days that you can't go wrong. Most of these prefer a little
afternoon shade, but with sufficient water, they'll produce prolific blooms throughout the summer. Best of all, there is a size and a color for everyone. One of our Guilford, CT clients just absolutely loves all kinds of hydrangeas, so he has a wide variety growing throughout his several gardens. They integrate nicely with all the elements of the landscape. Hydrangea paniculata 'Bobo' is a great panicle hydrangea for small spaces. 'Bobo' grows 30” - 36” high. If you're more of a mophead fan, then the City Line series is for you. Hydrangea mac. 'City Line Mars' is a little sport of a mophead that only grows 1-3 feet high. There are also arborescens varieties. Here's a quick link to all the hydrangeas we have access to locally. This will give you a variety of information on all the different hydrangeas and you can decide for yourself which is right for you.
Butterfly bush. Well of course! I know what you're thinking, not everyone has the space for such a large shrub. True, but again, the plant breeders have done their due diligence and have butterfly bushes for all size gardens – small medium and large. These shrubs produce long, spiked trusses of flowers all over the shrub. The colors range from deep purple, lavender, white, pink and almost a ruby color. As the name would suggest, this shrub is definitely a butterfly magnet, so if you like butterflies, this shrub will draw them in.
Spirea. Again, there is a spirea for everyone! From the smaller 'Neon Flash' with it's chartreuse leaves and
ruby flowers all the way up to 'Bridal Veil' with it's cascading white flowers. 'Bridal Veil' is indeed a beauty, but it can grow up to 8' if not pruned back. There are a great many spirea for almost any garden.
Summer Sweet (Clethra). No garden is complete without this shrub. This is a strong performer in any garden. This diverse shrub does well in sun or shade (how many shrubs can say that??). I have this in a number of my gardens along the shoreline from Old Saybrook, CT to Branford CT. This is a long blooming summer shrub, with bottlebrush like flowers that are so incredibly fragrant that you're really missing out if you don't have this in your garden. This shrub comes in both white and pink. If you look at the Missouri Botanical Garden website on the specifics of this plant http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c230, it will tell you the plant gets between 3 and 8 feet. I have to confess, I use this plant a lot in my gardens and although it can vary in size, it usually gets around 5 feet. It's low maintenance, long blooming, and fragrant. What else can you ask for in a shrub?
These are just a few of the many shrubs you can have in your garden that will fill it with easy summer color. One of the best things you can do is take a ride to your local garden center in the dog days of summer, or whenever you think your garden is a little lackluster. This will give you an idea of what's blooming during that time. By reading the tag on the plant, you'll be able to see what the care instructions are for that particular plant and if it will fit into your lifestyle, not just your garden.