Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fickle Weather Demands Special Strategies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fickle Weather Demands Special Strategies

Article excerpt

Living in this transitory zone means that gardening is a challenge. It may be June in January and snowy in March with all the extremes in between. The garden books we read aren't much help for our morale. They show pictures of flower borders on Long Island Sound and Portland, Ore., perennials in England and year-round blooms in California.

In our area, the tulips may pop open one morning and shatter before evening. A long season of bloom - what's that?

Ken Miller, Mike Miller and Cindy Gilberg pointed out all these sad facts of life at their seminar at Shaw's Garden several weeks ago, but they also held out the light at the end of the dark tunnel of winter and offered many ideas on how we can surmount our special problems.

"You have to do succession work," Ken Miller reminded us in his talk on "Absolute Flowers." Using bulbs to start the season makes good sense. Flowering trees behind beds extend your view. He admitted, "Those of you with small yards may have to plant a dogwood on your neighbor's property." Having gardens that peak - a splash of peonies for example - will make up for the valleys.

Also we have the advantage of a long season in our area. Autumn clematis may provide that peak in late fall. And throughout the hottest summer days, there's always impatiens.

"Impatiens is the most overworked flower in our area, but I plan to keep right on overworking them," he said.

Annuals and long-blooming perennials like daylilies, lythrum and daisies come to our rescue. We don't have delphinium as they have in the Pacific Northwest, but there is gladiolus increasing in its varieties.

We can have scented gardens on our hot summer nights - nicotiana is a good choice here. We can grow hot-weather lovers for bloom and for drying - gomphrena and stachys (lamb's ear) make a nice combination. And we can always grow that longest blooming perennial of all, eclinacea and its related rudbeckia. …

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