Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals

Guide to June Gardening (page 3 of 5)

by John R. Dunmire

Higher Up: Flowering Trees

Dogwood. June-blooming trees are worth thinking about. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida, zones 5 to 9) has finished blooming by June, but Kousa dogwood (C. kousa, zones 5 to 8) not only prolongs bloom into June but promises to be resistant to the pests and diseases that have made life precarious for our native varieties. 'Milky Way' is an exceedingly heavy flower-producer, and 'Miss Satomi' (also called 'Rosabella') has deep pink flowers.

Smoke Tree. Depending upon your point of view, smoke tree or smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria, zones 4 to 8) is a treelike shrub or shrubby tree (to 25 feet). Either way, it puts on a flower show of no great beauty but follows with spectacular clouds of fruit stalks decorated with silky hairs. The 6- to 8-inch clusters vary from creamy tan to a rich pink and create the impression of smoke puffs. The fall foliage is brilliant, with tones of yellow, orange, and red. Many purple-leaved forms exist, such as 'Velve Cloak' and 'Royal Purple'. Also look for the hybrid 'Grace', a new variety that features somewhat larger leaves and "smokes," and red-orange fall color.

Magnolia. Northern gardeners who really want their garden to reach upward might consider planting 'Edith Bogue' evergreen magnolia. Although evergreen magnolia (M. grandiflora) is southern in origin, plants of 'Edith Bogue' spring from a plant growing in Montclair, New Jersey. Huge white fragrant flowers appear in June and sporadically throughout the summer. Stiff, leathery, dark green foliage will profit from a position sheltered from winter winds and drying winter sun. The tree grows to 35 feet and is hardy in zones 6 to 9.

June's Sunny Chores

This month is not all fun and games. You have work to do. If you secure some of the delights listed in this article from your nursery, you must plant them. The first step is to check your soil. If it's sandy or stiff with clay, dig in humus to improve water retention and aeration. Well-rotted manure or compost are highly desirable, but other materials are useful, too: rotted sawdust, ground corncobs, or cocoa shells.

Planting Container Plants. When setting out container-grown plants, be sure that the soil is moist (not wet) and that you have watered the plant itself. One cause of loss in new plantings is that the rootball is dry and sheds water when irrigated. The danger is especially great with the peat-based soil mixes used for growing azaleas, mountain laurels, and rhododendrons. If one of these plants should show signs of wilt shortly after planting, moisten the rootball by setting a hose at the base of the stem and letting water trickle very slowly until the soil becomes thoroughly wet.

After removing the plant from the container, straighten any tangled roots, and cut a few shallow slashes along the side to encourage root branching. Be sure that the base of the plant is very slightly above grade level to reduce the chances of water accumulating at the soil line andcausing rot. Large shrubs or trees need a watering basin for deep soaking in the hot days ahead. Apply a mulch to keep soil cool and keep down weeds, but keep it a few inches away from trunks.

Water. Watering becomes critical this month in many regions. Plants in active growth draw heavily on soil water, and hot winds easily damage soft young growth. Keep an eye on weather reports, and try to water before rather than during a heat wave. Simplify your life by adding a drip-irrigation system with automatic controls, but keep an eye on your garden. Overriding the controls or using supplementary irrigation might be necessary.

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