What to Plant if You Want Flowers Blooming in Late July in Your High Desert Idaho Garden
Flowers have a way of refreshing the spirit, so they are especially useful during the scorching hot weeks of July and August. All that is required is that you think about it in the spring. When you are drawn to everything that is blooming at the garden nursery or reading labels with promises of blossoms in three weeks, stop and think. Do you want your whole flower planting effort to be like a display of fireworks, dazzling and gone in seconds? Or do you want it to be like a Renoir painting, something that changes in magnificence with the lighting?
I like the idea of having flowers blooming as many months of the year as possible. I don’t have any grand scheme or long term landscaping plan that I am trying to implement. All I do is try to plant flowers that bloom in a lot of different times of the year. So, when I am reading descriptions of seeds, bulbs, roots, or plant stock, that is a detail I always check.
I also try to have a mix of perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees in each time frame. Again, I attempt this rather casually. It is unlikely that I am ever going to have a yard that reaches the pinnacle of landscaping perfection. It is not a budget or time priority. But little by little, it takes shape. Year by year, the perennials multiply and the annuals reseed in masses that would be cost and time prohibitive if I had to do it from scratch every spring.
Another way to extend bloom time, is to plant a particular type of flowering plant in more than one micro-climate. For instance, tulips planted in full sun will sprout and fade sooner than those that get shade for part of the afternoon. There are some limitations to this, since plants generally have a preferred environment in which they can grow, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Especially when your own annuals do start reseeding and you need to divide your own perennials. In those cases, it’s free (minus your time, of course).
Here is a look at what is blooming in my garden this year in late July. Keep in mind that every year the weather patterns can vary enough to alter exact timing of flowering. Also, flowering longevity or re-flowering will depend some on both consistency in watering and deadheading.
Here are the hollyhocks and zinnias that greet me this summer when I enter my driveway. The hollyhocks are all volunteers. The zinnias are Benary’s Giants that I planted from seed this year. I am thinking I need more of them next year!
On the other side of the driveway is my ancient straw bale garden mound with it’s volunteer California poppies and sweet peas. Another thing about the volunteer flowers is that they seem to germinate, and thus bloom, over a longer duration than those planted at a specific time in the spring. Both of these flower beds get sun almost all day long.
A predominantly perennial display can be found along the fence to the chicken pen in front. Here there is a mix of pink coneflowers, Shasta daisies, and black-eyed Susans. If you look closely to the right of the Susans, you can see one lone, lemon colored dahlia. Most of my dahlias in this garden got crowded out by other plants. In the forefront of the photo is the purple of sage blossoms. On the very far right, is one of the last Double Shirley poppies making a splash in dark shell pink.
Across the bark dust path from the pink, white, and yellows is a hodge podge of Heidi’s yarrow, Queen Sophia marigolds, Gaillardia (the Fanfare variety with the fluted petals) and some deep pink day lilies. No, the daylilies are not a variegated type. They need something in the way of nutrients that I just haven’t gotten to yet. There is a bell pepper plant struggling up through the yarrow, and a Cape Daisy looking the wrong way behind the marigolds. The Cape Daisies have more room in the back yard and the plants are quite large.
Not far from there, is the cloud of lavender blossoms of my perennial statice. Other colors of statice tend to look hard and dry to me. This one looks soft and floaty. I didn’t know it would reseed when I bought it, but I think it looks so lovely hanging out over the driveway.
My Heavenly Blue morning glories (HBMGs) (not to be confused with bindweed) are just beginning to get revved up. I savor each velvety blue blossom, but I am still also hoping for the results that I got last year with vines on the fence along the front driveway in mid-August.
Behind the HBMGs is a wild garden because all year I’ve been planning on turning it into a patio as part of my “move the water away from the house plant” plan. Meanwhile, the volunteer white (and very fragrant) alyssum and blue plumbago continue to thrive. I couldn’t help but add a few Benary’s Giant zinnias to the mix.
On the other side of the entry walkway are some portulaca, also know as moss rose. These low growing annual succulents do well in the heat. I also planted some in the backyard, so that I can see them from the kitchen window.
One of the most challenging flower gardens I have is the one in the back along the west border. It is shaded in the morning, but gets blazing sun in the afternoon. Here, however, I have had success with hibiscus shrubs and Prairie Sun rudbeckia. I planted the shrubs quite specifically, but have been amazed at how many shrub seedlings of those I have had to weed out in the last few years. Not a lot compared to reseeding annuals, but a lot for a shrub, I think. It must really like it there! The rudbeckias in this photo are all volunteers from some that I grew from seed and planted two years ago about 20 feet away. Seed traveling can be nice.
There are some balsam impatiens looking inspired along one section of that same garden. This annual readily reseeds, but is very easy to pull. I grew the originals from seed and have since transplanted them around the yard. The flowers are unique because they grow up the stalk. Mine have always grown to reach a solid three feet tall, so it is easy to see the rows of flowers along the sides.
There is an even more grand display of hollyhocks along my back fence. I usually try to keep them growing in one row, but ran out of time to thin them before the wedding this year, so there they are. It’s hard to be sorry when they look like this!
The mimosa tree is in full bloom. I don’t see many other trees that bloom this time of year. There is a story behind it, too, though. What I bought was a “Chocolate Mimosa” that was supposed to be okay in zone 6. Our region had been more like a zone 6 for a few years, so the nurseries were saying it was “okay.” The following year was definitely a “zone 5 winter.” The grafted Chocolate died, but the root stock held on. And so it has grown for several years from a three foot sapling to this tropical looking wonder. I am so very glad I didn’t impulsively rip it up in disappointment! I would have never know what I was missing!
The rose garden barely survived the winter last year, but some pruning brought hope and flowers. The soft peach roses (behind the yellow flowers) look bleached in the sunlight of the photo, but are more vibrant “in person.” I also added some alkaline tolerant hydrangeas (white flowers in the middle). They suffered some after mid-spring planting, when we had some severe heat, but have come back and flowered. In front of them and the roses are tall snap dragons and yellow Argyranthemum “Butterfly” or Marguerite Daisy (I am reading the label as I type). There is some dark pink honeysuckle growing on the eight year temporary fence in the back of everything.
For the record, I don’t do any regular fertilizing of my flower beds. I don’t even regularly treat my roses for anything. The last time was probably five years ago. I added compost to the rose garden about ten years ago. They get some nutrients from leaves that get mixed in from our large trees every year. The bark dust mulch just went on this last year. Some of the back yard beds get a regular layering of freshly mowed grass for mulching. That has got to help over the years.
So Don’t look at my garden and think, “I could never do that.” Think instead that, “I could start working on it and see what takes shape.” Because that’s what I have been doing.