Summertime Garden Hustle: Mastering the Art of Hydrangeas and Garden Maintenance

Many say everything in moderation. Not hydrangeas; the more the merrier.

Published June 28, 2024 7:09 AM
3 min read


It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. Full Stop. Nope, not if you are a gardener. The garden is always there, like a flirtation drawing you in. The garden beckons you in rain or shine, hot ~— extremely hot lately — or cold. Oh, we can be such saps for a come-hither floral face. Especially those dazzling hydrangea blooms: Bright white ball shaped flowers on Annabelle, grape cluster shapes on Oakleaf, flat flower heads on Lace Caps, or the season long blue blooming joy of Endless Summer varieties.

Many say everything in moderation. Not hydrangeas; the more the merrier. We shall discuss hydrangea proper pruning in upcoming columns, stay tuned.

To regain a tad of control over this floriferous flirtatious relation, start by getting up early, then take advantage of the cool of the day and be done with it. Whether the garden likes it or not, you laid down your terms. Hey, like where is it going to go anyway? Now let’s get to it.

  • Re-treat garden with a deer proofing spray — not fool proof, but at least you feel like you are trying. The best defense is to demand our city approve bow deer hunting in fall by the Westchester Bow Hunter Association. They are expert, compassionate, and willing to donate their time. They have safely and successfully helped other communities reduce herd lickety split in a few early mornings. Let’s do it for the health, safety, and welfare of our community.
  • Weed, weed, and weed. Pull them all. They make great compost.
  • Mulch. If you mulched your beds well, then weeds are a lot easier to. control.
  • Mulch 2.0. It is never too late to mulch. Do it.
  • Raise the mower deck if you are man/woman enough to cut your own. lawn. If not, request your kids or the gardener to do so.
  • Install Japanese beetle pheromone traps. Empty as needed. Apply Milky Spore to naturally eradicate those pests.
  • Handpick pests whenever possible.
  • Sow biennials. Plant hollyhock seeds or seedlings next to this year’s flowering spires to ensure next year’s flowers. Remove yellowing leaves and maintain plenty of air/sun around Hollyhocks to reduce rust.
  • Vegetables — keep picking those greens. March those wily tomato vines back into hoops and remove all fading lower leaves. Plant more radishes, bush beans, Swiss chard, and greens. Or give into the urge at nurseries to buy mega tomato, pepper, and eggplant for instant garden.
  • Close to last chance to harvest rhubarb. Rip leaves and use as mulch around plants. Fertilize and add compost. Never smother crowns, rhubarb is fussy that way.
  • Cut peonies in half and fertilize them.
  • Clip with sharp and clean secateurs all spent rose blooms down to an out-facing leaflet of five. Clean bed of any rose petals/flowers.
  • Deadhead early blooming spent perennials. Clip salvia and Stella D’oro. daylilies to promote repeat blooming.
  • Forsythia, bridal wreath spirea, quince, lilac, and azaleas can still be pruned — do it already!
  • Water deeply and less often, but always early in the morning. This will ensure most water gets to plant roots and limits fungi and mold growth.
  • Pots and hanging baskets need water more often — do it, and do it early.
  • Stake all plants as needed. Remember to save those old broom handles for future stakes.
  • Turn compost pile, add to it, and use it.

Zinnias, cleomes, cosmos, and ornamental grasses are getting ready to impress — they are deer resistant. All Japanese anemones, Anthony Waterer and other spirea can’t wait to show you what they have. Peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, bush beans, and greens are there to be enjoyed. Push through the July heat, completing your chores, and the garden will come hither begging for your attention.

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