Here's a valuable tip for you if you are going to attend one of the lectures conducted by Dr. William Welch and Chris Wiesinger, the "Bulb Hunter", at The Arbor Gate: Get there early.
Their latest class was held last Saturday morning at 10:00 A.M. and to say it was well-attended would be an understatement. Based on my previous experience, I did get there early so I was able to snag a front row seat, as well as find a place to park in the parking lot. Late arrivals had to park on FM 2920 and walk up to the venue.
The Welch and Wiesinger show this time around was all about "Refining your garden". Their focus was on plants and garden activities that local gardeners can do now in order to have beautiful outdoor spaces that will last the whole year. Their plant suggestions included bulbs and perennials that "create beautiful livable and sustainable landscapes with manageable maintenance routines." The operative words here are livable, sustainable and manageable.
I always enjoy these two gardeners' presentations because they tend to emphasize tried and true plant selections that are appropriate for our southern humid climate - plants that are not going to poop out on us when the going gets tough in July and August. And sometimes in September and October and... well, you know.
Their list of recommended plants was quite familiar to me. I found that I already have most of them in my yard, some on the basis of prior recommendations received from Welch and Wiesinger. Just in case you didn't make it to their lecture, here is a list of some of the plants that they especially like for our area:
For spring color
- Byzantine gladiolus (Gotta get this one!)
- Petunias and dianthus (They especially recommend 'Laura Bush' petunia of which I have hundreds after mine reseeded all over the place last year.)
- Hardy amaryllis (Hippeastrum x johnsonii)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Early to mid-summer plants to be planted in spring
- Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
- Summer phlox (Some good ones are 'John Fanick' and the old "Gaudy Pink".)
- Hardy Hibiscus (A good one is 'Lady Baltimore'.)
- Philippine lilies (Need some of these.)
- Zinnias (Good to plant around dormant crinums or other bulbs.)
- Crinums (Cast iron - almost impossible to kill.)
Other summer survival stars
- China roses
- Lavender (Must be well drained. Can be grown in pots.)
- Rosemary (Prostrate kind is especially useful.)
- Salvia gregii ('Hot lips' is a good one.)
- Salvia leucantha
- Rain lilies
Late summer and fall
- Oxblood lilies
- Butterfly ginger (Hedychium coronarium)
- Hummingbird bush (Hamelia patens)
- Cigar plant (Cuphea macropetala)
- Purslanes and portulaca
All of the recommended plants can - and should - be planted now, and, at this time of the year, W and W remind us, it is especially important to look around the garden for dead plants after the winter freezes, plants that can be replaced for more color for spring, summer and fall. Also, they remind us that most of these plants can be grown in pots as well.
But it's not all about new plants. Now is a great time to add mulch to keep down weeds, help retain moisture, and to keep your plants more comfortable during the long summer. This is important for new plants, but it's also important to remember your established plantings and renew their mulch.
It is such a treat to listen to these two knowledgable men talk about gardening and I'm happy to be able to share with you some of what I learned from them, but, by all means, keep an eye on the listings of garden events in the Chronicle and try to get out to hear them yourself the next time they are in town. And remember: Arrive early!