Summer is here! Lots of rain this spring has reduced the number of days that I’ve been out in the garden. Chores I usually do in early spring, like dividing and pruning, will not get done this year because in many cases, it’s too late! While I was not pleased with all the rain, many garden plants have loved it! They are large and lush. And, of course I have some of the biggest, healthiest weeds I’ve ever seen!
I avoided yellow flowers and golden leaves in my ornamental gardens for years. I just wasn’t a fan of yellow. One thing I’ve learned, however, is that it’s important to have contrast. Gardening is, after all, an art. Artists know that a touch of yellow really makes other colors pop! Now, touches of yellow appear throughout my gardens.

Yellow-blooming sedums light up a rock garden

Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ brightens a shady spot

Anyone who’s ever lived in Zones 3 and 4 knows that peonies are royalty. They perform especially well where days are warm and nights are cool. Peony flowers can be found in red, pink, white, coral, yellow and any combination of these colors. Blooms can be big multi-petaled bombs or simple daisy-like flowers. Foliage is beautiful all summer long. The plants are long-lived and can be handed down from one generation to the next. What’s not to love?

Old-fashioned Festiva Maxima peony has a touch of red in each bloom

A bee collects nectar from a deep burgundy single peony

Dianthuses have been dependable perennials I will always have. What started out as a few plants has spread throughout the yard. After dianthus is done blooming, I cut the seed heads off and allow them to dry in a paper bag. A few weeks later, I shake the dried flowers over a large bowl and collect the tiny, dust-like seeds. The seeds spend the summer in a paper envelop in the refrigerator. Before snowfall, I spread the seeds where I want new plants next year. Two varieties - one red, one pink – are staples in my garden. Even if these plants never bloom, their evergreen foliage makes a wonderful, tight groundcover. What do I love more - the flowers or the leaves? Luckily, I can have them both.

Dianthus ‘Heather Mist’ has pink flowers and pale blue foliage

An unnamed red dianthus has moss-like dark green foliage