Colorful Summer Gardens     
by Tim Birch

In mid-summer the perennial border is at its peak with a wide variety of sun-loving flowers in bloom. There are even some long lasting, early blooming flowers still providing color as well as some signs of the later blooming perennials. Choose flowers for the mid-season garden which work well with your favorite annuals. Annuals are at their peak during the mid-summer months. Fully leafed out shrubs can serve as a wonderful back drop to the garden and the yet to bloom perennials act as great fillers giving the garden a lush look.

Perennial and annuals are the focus of the mid-season garden. With a few exceptions, most of the flowering tree and shrubs have finished blooming by the middle of summer. Autumn foliage is still a few months away. Flower gardens are in full bloom, however. Lingering until mid-season are some of the spring bloomers and toward the end of this period, the late season bloomers begin to show some signs of flowering.

Where as the early border consists of those flowers which are suitable for the shade and the woodland garden, the mid-season border revolves around the more sun-loving varieties of flowers. They're also, in general, taller than the spring perennials. Many of these perennials have been cultivated from the wildflower prairies of the mid-west.

Daisies are a classic summer flower. They produce abundant flowers in a variety of colors and sizes. After flowering, deadhead the stems to encourage a flush of new growth. Hollyhock and delphinium are old fashioned, tall growing, colorful perennials for the full-sun garden. They're both suitable for the cottage garden. Daylily, another classic mid-season bloomer, offers an abundance of short-lived flowers. Lady's Mantle, a great edging perennial with yellow flowers, and geranium, a low-growing flower are ideal for the front of a perennial garden.

Blooming along with the perennials and annuals are hydrangeas, one of the most versatile shrubs available to the gardener. In fact, they are indispensable in the garden for summer color and foliage texture. No garden is complete without them.

Hydrangeas prefer part shade, rich organic soil and afternoon shade after some morning sun. If they get shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon they may look stressed due to the sudden rise in temperature. Hydrangeas need lots of water, especially young plants since they tend to dry out quickly during the hot weather.

After planting be sure to mulch well. Fertilize the shrubs in the spring and then again in late summer.

Lacecap hydrangeas are identified by its ring of flowers surrounding a center of florets and nikko blue hydrangeas by their large pom-pom like flowers.

Oak leaf hydrangea has a much different appearance than the other hydrangeas as its leaves resembles that of the oak. Its white blooms fade to pink in fall. Climbing hydrangeas are a white blooming, deciduous vine which clings to garden structures, walls and fences with aerial roots.

Hydrangeas are treasured for their long-lasting, summer blooming flowers. Whether among a shrub border, climbing a wall or planted on its own as an accent shrub, hydrangeas are a beautiful addition to any garden.

Since there are so many summer blooming flowers to choose from, plan your garden in advance, before you plant. Though you'll probably find a plant you haven't thought of, you'll be glad you have a prepared list when you get to the greenhouse.

About the Author
Tim Birch is the publisher of http://www.gardenlistings.com. For information on all kinds of garden projects visit http://www.gardenlistings.com/Resources.htm
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