Entries in persistent summer bloomers (2)


Two Salvias For Continuous Color

I tend to have a deep green summer. Except for tropicals, which are grown as annuals here, not many flowers tolerate the high heat and humidity of my summer climate. However, back in April I planted two different types of salvias, and they have both bloomed non-stop with little help from me. I have other types of salvias, but none have the almost continuous bloom I have seen from these. And the great news is that they should both continue blooming till frost. I am also pleased that they are attractive to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. They look great in the border, and they also do well in containers.

First, is Salvia splendens 'Saucy Red.' It features scarlet red blooms on a compact plant from April to November. The heart shaped, evergreen foliage has a neat habit, and the flower spikes are self-cleaning.There is no need to dead-head, though dead-heading will promote new growth. The seeds are sterile. The plant can reach up to 2-3 feet tall x 2-3 feet wide. It is not fussy about soil type, and it needs a moderate amount of water. If grown in a pot, it requires well-draining soil. It should be planted in full sun to part shade. Although Salvia splendens is usually considered a tender perennial at best, this one is said to have a maximum cold tolerance of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (- 18 centigrade).

Another salvia that has been a highlight in my garden this year is Salvia 'Amistad.' Everyone who sees it remarks about its beauty. Thought to have Salvia guarantica and possibly Salvia mexicana parentage, its exact origins are unknown.Originally from Mexico, the name means "friendship." It has amazing velvet purple blooms from spring till frost.It likes full sun and well-drained garden soil. It has deciduous foliage, and I have seen reports of winter temperature tolerance from around 10 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 to -8 centigrade). If I have a severe winter, I may not see it come back next spring, but even if not, it has earned its keep in my garden this year. A semi-shrub, it can reach 3-4 feet tall x 3 feet wide. Prune when new growth begins in spring. If desired, prune again in mid-season to control growth.

Both salvias should be fertilized with a slow release fertilizer in spring and then mulched.


hot peppers, forever in memory

I am blessed to have stayed in the same home for almost twenty five years, for my garden echoes with memories.

Today the sky was was drab and laden with moisture. The temperature was in the sixties, but for the first time this year I felt the glorious days of autumn shriveling up and blowing toward the cold edge of winter. There is a tropical storm south of us, and I expect we will get a lot of wind and rain from it, which will strip the trees of their molten colors and leave them naked.

Even now, there are a few summer plants bravely blooming, and the flowers seemed luminous against the gray atmosphere. The vegetables are all gone, except for the peppers. which will produce madly until frost kills them. I never cared to eat peppers, until I began to grow them in my garden. Like tomatoes, peppers are much tastier when home grown and picked at the peak of ripeness. This year my bell peppers have been huge and blocky, with thick crisp walls.  I planted red, yellow, and orange varieties. All of them taste fine while still green, but I like them best when fully mature. I also planted yellow banana peppers, and they are still producing heavily, also.These banana peppers don't know winter is coming.

I did not plant hot peppers; I do not like hot peppers. But when I look at my sweet peppers, I always remember the year I planted one hot pepper plant for the novelty of it. That one plant (it was a habanero) must have produced a thousand little fiery fruits.

One day, during the summer of the habanero pepper plant, my family attended a picnic in the park sponsored by our church. My youngest son Mark, who was about age thirteen, was with me as I started through the long line to get a hamburger plate. 

"Mom," he said, "Why don't you go find a seat while I get your plate?"

"Why, thanks, Mark. That's a good idea."

My friends looked at me enviously. "What a fine young man," they said. "Not many kids his age are so thoughtful."

I tried not to seem prideful, as I puffed out my chest and congratulated myself on the obviously good job of parenting I had done.

I sat down at one of the long tables set up under the pavilion. Mark brought our plates and eased onto the bench beside me. Again, my friends marveled.

"Why, Mark, you are so sweet," they gushed. "Not only do you get your mom's plate for her, but you even want to sit with her." 

I smiled at my darling son and then bit into my hamburger. Immediately I gagged as my face turned deep red and my tongue ignited. Mark laughed at the smoke pouring from my mouth. While I gulped water to douse the inferno, he grabbed his own plate and headed for the hills, where he joined his buddies and entertained them, no doubt, with exaggerated descriptions of my reaction to the habanero enhanced hamburger.

So, I don't plant hot peppers. But, oh the memories, when I look at the other ones.

Here are a few of the persistent summer blooms I found today. I hope you enjoy them.probably the last 'Endless Summer' hydrangea bloom this year.Knockout roses are great landscape roses.This butterfly bush attracts butterflies and also has a nice smell.This little wildflower is a form of oxalis.