Check Roses for Virus
With the advent of the new varieties of easy-care shrub roses, many of us have added them to our gardens. Unfortunately, these are sometimes proving to be vulnerable to a virus disease called rose rosette. High temperatures, drought, and plant stress can make roses especially susceptible. Some of the signs to look for include rapid elongation of new shoots, often ending in a witches' broom of dense growth; distorted and/or unusually small leaves that may be red or mottled yellow; excessive thorn production; aborted buds and/or abnormal flowers; or noticeably thicker canes. The only way to deal with this disease is to dig up the infected plant, place in a garbage bag, roots and all, and send it to the landfill.
Keep Up with Deadheading
Depending on the plant, cutting back stems or removing faded flowers will either give your garden a well-tended appearance or encourage more flowers. For instance, removing faded flower spikes from catmint, geraniums, salvia, and delphiniums will often promote late-summer flowers, especially if they are also watered. Pruning out the longest stems of cascading petunias prevents plants from becoming straggly. Removing spent flower stems of daylilies simply makes the garden look better.
Collect Flower Seeds
Create an ever-expanding cottage garden effect by collecting the seeds of old-fashioned flowers like love-in-a-mist, cornflower, larkspur, cosmos, poppy, or spider flower as the seed heads dry, then sprinkling them in other areas of the garden. If you're not sure where you want them, simply snip off the dried seed heads into a paper bag and save in a dark, dry place until you're ready to plant.
Get Ready for the Fall Garden
A fall vegetable gardening is very rewarding, providing you with a array of foods, including radishes, turnips, beets, and cilantro as well as a wide variety of both salad and cooking greens. For the best selection, consider using a mail-order seed source. Transplants of cabbage and broccoli can be started indoors now, but most of the seeds should be directly sown beginning about mid-August. To extend the growing season well past the first fall frost, think about how you'll protect your plantings with a cold frame or low hoops covered with frost-protective fabric or plastic.
Wouldn't that dark purple daylily look great planted near the "black" calla? Why is that pink echinacea in the bed with orange flowers? And why wasn't the crocosmia staked this spring? If you ask yourself questions like these as you enjoy your garden this summer, don't presume that you'll remember this fall or next spring. Keep a small notebook and pen with your garden tools or by the door and take it with you when you go out into the garden. Jot down your observations. Take photos, too. Or use small surveyor's flags and make notes on them with a permanent marker, then set them beside the plants that are to be moved, staked, or whatever is needed.