Make It Purdy

Spring and Summer Blooming Flowers

Johnson's Prize Russian Mammoth Sunflower, 2005
Johnson's Prize Russian Mammoth Sunflower, 2005

My wife wants some flowers that bloom in spring. She's not big on deferred gratification. I on the other hand, being a paragon of restraint, prefer my blooms to come during summer's hottest time. A flower that blooms during the blistering summer heat is even more magical.

So, I started to do a little research online since I have been planting flowers from seed for most of my adult life here in Burque and typically with little success. Bulbs are easier but much more pricey. Just off the top of my head I've had a few successful seed sorties, they are (in order of supremacy): Sunflowers, Cosmos, Blue Flax, Larkspur and the occasional but well worth it California Poppy.

I prefer to plant native flowering perennial bushes instead of anything from seed, history has revealed them to be the best bet. I've had phenomenal success planting native or at least hardcore drought tolerant trees usually from Alameda Greenhouse (Fourth and Alameda; Steve grows his own plants) or Plants of the Southwest. [link] A few of my favorites that have grown well are (again in order of beauty and good growth) are Chitalpa, Mimosa, Desert Willow and even though it's more of a bush, Bird of Paradise.

Here's some of the best websites I've found researching on the Internet and also a few of the plants they discuss that I might try this year.

The first site I found was one for my side of the garden. A site devoted to unusual summer blooming perennials from the University of Colorado extension master gardener. [link]

One of the plants I plan to try is Scarlet Hedgenettle, which is apparently an Arizona native and kin to the reasonably prolific Lamb's Ear. The other plant recommended on this site is Hyssop, which I have no idea even what it looks like. Goldenrod is also recommended and kind of makes me chuckle since it is often a weed invading farmers' alfalfa fields.

Another site for Angela's side of the garden focuses on spring blooming annuals. As always, wildflowers should be planted in the fall but since I have had such a small amount of luck planting seeds at all, don't despair—if you want you might as well plant them now and see what happens. [link] I tend to not be that into annuals because unless they re-seed, which sometimes happens, it seems like a waste to this frugal gardener. On the other hand, some of the best and brightest colors in spring come from annuals like pansies and such. On our short list of flowers we hope to try this year are Poppies, Violas and Dianthus, apparently a kind of Carnation. I love Poppies and plant them about every other year from seed and often don't see a single plant. When I do though it's worth it, the orange of those California Poppies is spectacular.

A third site and one for my side of the garden is late blooming summer perennials. [link]

There are a few I recognize and will try this year for sure: Shasta Daisy, Purple Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan. Also listed was one summer flowerer that is really beautiful, Guara. Guara has a wispy look with branches tipped in beautiful white blooms, it is hardy and gorgeous. Plants that I am not familiar with that sound intriguing include Dahlias, Coreopsis, Autumn Joy Sedum and Mexican Bush Sage.

The fourth site [link] has lots of different plants and their bloom times. I recognize quite a few and hope to try Verbena, Aster, Fire-Wheel and many members of the Mallow family. This list is perhaps the most comprehensive of all the aforementioned sites and contains in itself a host of plants and their blooming times. It would be nice to try some Phlox as well as the Big Red Sage.

Here's also a site that is specific to xeric gardening for wildlife. [link]

Happy gardening.