Kate Bryant -- Garden Writer, Columnist and author of "Terrarium Craft" -- stopped by to show us fabulous late-blooming summer flowers to help perk up our tired gardens.
For more great tips from Kate, check out her Plantwise blog.
The fact is, most of us buy flowers for our gardens in spring, when we're desperate for color after the long, rainy winter. We grab the first things we see in flower on the benches! - peonies, irises, roses, columbines... lots of great, old fashioned flowers that are mostly done by the end of June/early July.
But what happens from mid-July onwards, when the spring-blooming plants are all done? Most people just give up. The ground's getting too hard to dig, or we're in and out on vacation, or we just run out of steam once the spring gardening projects are finished.
But by late summer, the weather's finally warm enough to sit outside. It almost never rains, the mornings and afternoons are still long and luxurious, we are most likely to be able to really sit down and enjoy the garden with a cup of tea in the morning or a cold drink in the evening. Now is when we can actually sit out and admire the flowers close-up and personal.
Plus, we can see the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees hard at work, collecting nectar and pollen... if we just sit down in the garden and look around us.
Here are 15 fantastic flowers that are in full bloom right now in our region and will provide a banquet for the birds and the bees and a gorgeous, colorful garden for us to admire during the warmest, summeriest months of summer. You don't need acres to plant all this - just pick three or five that look nice together, and plant them right out by wherever you most often sit and enjoy a drink or a meal. Plant the summer stuff near where you sit in summer! And enjoy how much the tiniest little creatures enjoy them.
- Yarrow (Achillea) 'Moonshine' - bees, pollinating insects
- Giant hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) 'Golden Jubilee' - bees, pollinating insects
- Anise hyssop (Agastache rupestris) - hummingbirds, bees, pollinating insects
- Coneflower (Echinacea) 'Green Envy' - bees, pollinating insects
- Lady's eardrops (Fuchsia magellanica) 'Hawkshead' - hummingbirds
- Hop oregano (Origanum) 'Amethyst Falls' - bees, pollinating insects
- Beard tongue (Penstemon) kunthii - hummingbirds
- Cape fuchsia (Phygelius) 'Passionale' - hummingbirds
- Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' - bees, pollinating insects
- Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstonne' - bees, pollinating insects
- Texas sage (Salvia x greggii) 'Flame' - hummingbirds, bees
- Blue anise sage (Salvia guaranitica) 'Black & Blue' - hummingbirds
- Stonecrop (Sedum) 'Autumn Joy' - bees, pollinating insects
- Blue throatwort/Throatflower (Trachelium caeruleum) - bees, pollinating insects
- California fuchsia (Zauschneria) 'Calistoga' - hummingbirds
There are many other great plants for hummingbirds including lobelias, Dicliptera, and much more. Other great bee-attracting plants include tickseed (Coreopsis), Helenium, catmint (Nepeta), Eupatorium and more.
Tricks to buying the right plants for hummingbirds:
- usually tubular flowers work
- can be red but don't have to be!
Tricks to buying the right plants for bees/beneficial insects:
- go to plant nursery and watch which plants the pollinators buzz around the most!
- old-fashioned flowers are usually best - not latest new cultivars - richest in pollen because haven't been over-bred
- single flowers usually best - not double-flowered forms, which often replace pollen in center with extra petals