Summer on a mountain is a somewhat different when it comes to gardening. We can continue planting thanks to slightly cooler temperatures and regular rain. Planting in May, we sometimes actually experience drier weather, forcing us to water more often. Adding another task such as watering new plantings to the spring push should be accounted for in your daily and weekly schedule. Soil temperatures are generally a little cooler which may slow establishment after planting. So, we are planting woodland and sun loving plants now. We are enhancing plantings we already have with more of the same plant species as well as new species or cultivars.
We are also able to continue potting up red spruce, azaleas, and other native shrubs this time of year. Plants in two-inch RootMaker pots will be put into one gallon RootMaker pots. This is an advantage again with the RootMaker system, allowing us to skip the 4” size in between, saving time and labor. It is critical to repot when plants are actively growing new roots, and this can happen in late winter through the summer. Doing so allows the plant to get established before winter temperatures arrive.
Darwin Thomas propagates carnivorous native plants at Darwin’s Backyard Nursery in Sylva, North Carolina. On June 5th we met him to pick up twenty-eight carnivorous plants of varying species, shapes and sizes that he very graciously gifted to us! We are so excited and have planted them in mass along the pond’s edge. These types of plants require a wet site where water is fresh and oxygenated along with sun. Our pond is spring fed and keeps the water cool and refreshed with new water, providing excellent conditions for these plants and others.
One of the goals of gardening is to create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere to be in, to move people with the garden’s beauty. This time of year, a lot of that is editing. We love our native plants; however, some can be more aggressive than others. Notice whether those hay-scented ferns are starting to creep a little too far into your garden. Today I uncovered heuchera, columbine, ginger and club moss that were hiding under a sea of ferns. You might be surprised what you uncover once you start editing the garden. It’s a special delight to discover the soft orange colors of chanterelles lurking beneath.
Another plant to keep an eye on is Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa). It isn’t picky about sun or shade so it will slowly take over an area if allowed. Solidago is a nice, late blooming plant if kept at the back of the bed where it can provide some height. If you want to help keep the Solidago from seeding all, over cut the flowers off right after they are spent. The window is short from fading flowers to seeds. I suggest Solidago caesia and S. shortii ‘Solar Cascade’ or S. odora which is a clumping type that will not spread and is good in the shade.
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosa), is another great plant for the back of the garden bed. There are cultivars that do not get as tall as the straight species such as little Joe and baby Joe. Joe Pye Weed has some of the most nutrient dense nectars available for pollinators, making it an essential plant for pollinator gardens. The same is said for this plant as Golden Rod: it will self sow. Cutting the flowers off is a personal choice you make as the gardener. The seed heads of Joe Pye provide winter interest when dusted with snow. Be sure to remove the dead leaves if you choose to leave the heads up for it to really shine in the winter.
Think about how the plants make you feel. Do you feel crowded when you walk around your garden? You might need to cut the shrub layer back. Are there enough ‘windows’ looking into the other parts of the garden? You might need to cut the lower branches and water sprouts of a witch hazel. Leaving a select one or two younger trunks is good for the tree as long as they are not rubbing against another limb.
Weeding and pruning is an unavoidable part of gardening and can be quite relaxing if you get in the zone as I’m sure both our founders would agree!