The second week of July is not too late to plant some vegetables or add some summer color. You can pick up some bargains on bedding plants and hanging baskets this month and as long as these blooming plants are not too root bound they will continue to flower for another two months.
In the vegetable garden you can still plant seeds of beets, bush beans, carrots and chard as well as crops with shorter growing season. Check the garden centers for healthy-looking tomato plants sold in one gallon pots as these can still be transplanted into the garden or grown as container plants. Perhaps tomato plants bought in July are like pets rescued from the pound – sometimes not perfect but extra grateful for an adoption that will save them from the compost pile.
Q. How does one prune raspberries? We moved to a new house and there is a row of raspberries that were a real treat to harvest but now they look like they are growing out of control. C.W., Kent
A. Congratulations on finding yourself in this wonderful jam. Raspberries are best pruned after they are done bearing fruit and the type that produces berries only once in mid-summer can be pruned by cutting the canes or branches that held berries all the way to the ground. These older canes will be brown in color. Leave the young green canes and tame them between two rows of stiff wire, bending the tops and tying them to horizontal supports – strips of nylon stocking make good plant ties. There are also “Ever bearing” raspberries these produce fruit all summer. Cut these canes to half their height as soon as the top half stops producing berries and starts to turn brown. The bottom half of the cane should be left to mature and produce berries next summer.
Q. Please tell me some perennials that will bloom in a hot and sunny spot. I am going to stop buying geraniums every year and fill the space with flowers that will come back year after year. L. Enumclaw
A. Daylilies, lavender, yarrow, coreopsis and most plants with gray foliage will take the heat but there are many more that will thrive in our cool summer climate if you improve the soil and water during droughts. If lots of color is your goal, then perennials are not perfect replacements for annuals or bedding plants. Most perennials flower for a few weeks instead of many months and you may need to stake, deadhead and divide the perennial plants to keep them looking their best. Perhaps you can compromise with a mix of annuals and perennials. Visit the nursery all year long not just in the spring and you’ll discover perennial plants that flower in winter (hellebores and heather) as well as summer bloomers like delphinium and salvia and heat-lovers that flower in the fall such as mums, asters, and sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.
Q. What the heck is a “lense” bed in a garden? Don’t’ use my name. Anon
A. I will guess you have stumbled upon this term in an old gardening manual. A lense is a planted mound that is wider in the middle and tapered on both ends. It was often planted in flowers with the colors flowing from cool whites and blues to bright pinks, reds and orange tones. Don’t laugh but there is another landscape term called a “ha ha”. It is a ditch hidden at the bottom of a slope that acts like an invisible fence to keep livestock out of the garden. A “ha ha” is also used to hide the end of one’s property so that the neighbor’s fields and livestock can be passed off as their own. Large estate owners speak their own language.