Beat the heat

first_imgBy David BerleUniversity of GeorgiaThe flowers are all gone. Cracks are forming in the ground. Thelandscape is looking a little baked at the end of long, hotsummer. This is a common problem in the Southern landscape.Back in the spring, your yard was alive with dogwood and azaleablooms, which soon gave way to green and eventually brown. Whatcan a gardener do to perk up the landscape at this time of theyear?There are several solutions. The temporary answer is to plantsome cheerful annuals to liven things up a little. Garden centersoften have a few things left from spring sales that could stillbring some color back into the landscape.Lantana and verbena are plants that can beat the heat and producecolor well into the fall. Several varieties of repeat-bloom rosescan still make a difference. And soon, fall mums will beavailable with their array of yellows, oranges and burgundies.Just a few of these heat-tolerant bloomers, carefully placed inthe landscape, can brighten up any yard worn down from the summersun.Next yearThe best solution, however, is to plan ahead for next year andhave your landscape looking alive all summer long. Manyperennials, shrubs and even trees can provide color andexcitement at a time when everything else is crying for water.Plants in the salvia family are known for taking the heat.Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha) and blue anise sage(Salvia guaranitica) are two commonly found salvias, butthere are many hybrids as well. Some are hardier than others, butall seem to take the heat and bloom on through a hot summer.The perennial sunflowers (Helianthus sp.) perform well atthe end of the summer, as do the asters and repeat-bloomingdaylilies. The common blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.)often seen growing along the coast is a great plant to beat thesummer heat, and it’s extremely drought-tolerant.The many new shrub roses available today could be considered aperennial flower or tender shrub. But either way, these excitingflowering plants are great for keeping color alive.Gardeners can pick from the knockout roses or some of the otherhybrids like “Nearly Wild” or the butterfly rose (Rosamutabilis). All of these will bloom throughout the summer andare resistant to the diseases that bring down the tea roses byearly summer.Other summer-flowering shrubs include the butterfly bush(Buddleia davidii) and the panicled hydrangea, which isoften called Pee Gee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata).These two shrubs alone could make any landscape look happier andmore colorful when other plants have called it quits for thesummer.Think bigThere are even some trees that will bloom well into the lastsummer days.The crape myrtle is a Southern classic whose name is synonymouswith the heat of summer. The newer types offer attractive bark,too, and the latest dwarf varieties take up far less room andwork well in planters.The chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) provides along-lasting display that attracts butterflies and other insects.Most varieties have blue flowers, but there are pink- andwhite-flowering varieties as well.And finally, a tree that really shines in late summer is thegolden rain tree (Koelruteria paniculata). This otherwisecommon-looking tree stands out in late summer with its brilliantyellow flowers.No matter how you choose to brighten up your summer days, selectplants that are hardy in your area and suited to your siteconditions. And remember, many plants bloom well after Aprilshowers have long been forgotten.(David Berle is a horticulture professor and CooperativeExtension landscape specialist with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img

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