Saturday, September 19, 2020
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ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — August … already?

| August 2, 2020 1:00 AM

It’s hard to believe, but summer is half over already. Seems like it just got started. Guess we’d better enjoy every day: hot, cold, wet or dry.

This is a bumper year for raspberries. At least for me. My patch is just loaded even though I’m picking them at least every other day. Be sure to water them well while they’re ripening. It will be worth the effort when you enjoy a dessert created with a handful of berries on a slice of angel food cake and whipped cream. Yum.

Perennials continue to burst into bloom. Right now, I’m seeing lots of lilies, for example. They range from bright orange tiger lilies to the heavily scented Orientals. Probably the easiest ones to grow are the Asiatic ones. These can be found in a wide variety of colors. Their only drawback is the lack of scent. To get that, you’ll want the Oriental ones. Cut a stalk of those to bring indoors and they’ll perk up the whole house with a strong but pleasing scent.

Another faithful perennial which is beginning its bloom cycle is phlox. These plants can be had in quite a few colors too. They’re very hardy and easy to grow. Just give them a spot with at least half a day of sun, good drainage and they’ll reward you for many years to come.

Others recently starting their bloom season include bee balm, astilbe, hosta, hydrangea and campanula. The bee balm can sometimes be hit by powdery mildew but it’s worth the gamble as it attracts things like butterflies and hummingbirds. Hosta flowers are loved by the hummers. An easy-to-grow hydrangea is called Pinky Winky. It starts to bloom white and then gradually, the flowers turn pink. Very pretty. As for the campanula, there are many varieties. My favorite is one called Elizabeth Oliver and blooms with a myriad of tiny rose-shaped blue flowers.

If you enjoy seeing birds in your yard, remember that the best way to attract them is with a constant source of water. That’s even better than a bird feeder. A pedestal birdbath really brings them in as they can have a drink, take a bath, or both. I keep a feeder full of canary seed. This brings in lots of gold finches who enjoy both the water and the food.

Now that we’re seeing hot weather, do your lawn a favor and reset the mower so it doesn’t mow so short. Lawn grass does much better when kept taller this time of year. As for watering, that’s best done in the evenings or very early in the morning. Any other time, and the water will mostly evaporate.

Those flowering annuals need to have a fresh dose of fertilizer about once a month. Either scratch it in or water it in, depending on what type you’re using. For flowering plants, always choose a fertilizer which has a high middle number.

For your sake, I hope you don’t live near any Ponderosa pine trees. I do and they’re certainly making a mess this year as their catkins have been falling for many weeks. The needles and the yellow pollen were bad enough, but these things just don’t seem to have a stopping time. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re usually brown and fuzzy, resembling a kitten’s tail, thus the name. Maybe, I should paint the patio brown and they’d just blend in. Hmm.

Wow, did we get a surprise last Sunday. I looked out the kitchen window about noon and there were three raccoons in the backyard! Living in town, this is not what you expect to see. Because we live only a couple of blocks from the park and the river, I shouldn’t be surprised. Especially, when we get a visit from a moose now and then during the winters.

Here is a good sign to hang near a cactus plant. It just says “STAY SHARP.” Nuff said.

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Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in the Press every other Sunday from early March to late October for the past 12 years.