To get the greatest value from your landscape plants, they should contribute to the beauty of the yard at least three seasons. To increase the yard’s usage without losing usable space, you can add a “third” season that extends evening use. Of all of the attribute of plants, it is color that gets and holds our attention. In the early to middle 1900s, English gardener Vita Sackville-West promoted planting what she called “grey, white and green plants.” She included in her list whites that open pink or turned a light pink as they matured and variegated foliage.
White or light blooms and light or variegated foliage reflect ambient light in the nighttime garden, extending the beauty and use of the garden without adding more plants.
A full moon on white, silvery or light blooms will shine as though spotlighted. The Cornus kousa (Korean dogwood) is in full bloom backed by dark green foliage. Even with moderate light, it needs no spots to show off at night. Dwarf Spirea “Limelight” foliage is light green but it is enhanced by vivid purple iris, and its deep green foliage are a perfect foil for the spirea.
Sackville-West’s “White Garden” balanced white with a wide variety of green from soft mossy grey to pure green. She believed in clumps of foliage to allow the eye to focus on the whites. Among her favorites were candytuft, moon flower, calla, Thalia daffodil and fragrant snowdrop, all of which are easily obtainable and grow well here. Also, Echinacea purpurea “White Swan,” Clematis “Duchess of Edinburgh” (Springhill Nursery), Thymus “Silver Posie,” and in place of her large border plants, the same effect can be achieved by adding hydrangea and peonies.
A white garden does not add more work or plants but rewards you with a spectacular evening garden, especially on a moonlit night.
THINGS TO DO
• Child’s Garden Project — Make a pot sculpture to add height to the garden and make it easy to change out spent annuals. Stack clay pots in the garden, insert a metal rod through the drainage holes, fill the top pot with soil and plant. Any number of pots can be stacked, but an even number provides a wider base for better stability.
• Garden — Weed, weed and weed. Deadhead iris and other blooming perennials and rhizomes as they near maturity. To make six-pack annuals and vegetables easier to plant, dig the hole using a bulb planter.
Move houseplants outside into a protected area of dappled sun for a few days and then to their permanent summer home.
Sharing flowers with friends is a thoughtful gesture but to avoid allergies or COVID-19, call first. As an alternate, send pictures of individual flowers and bouquets.
• Trees and shrubs — Cut azalea and rhododendron, bush honeysuckle and spirea bloomed-out branches to keep their shape and produce buds for next year. Dig or pull up tree saplings.
• Vegetables — Keep a record of plants that attract insects, those that don’t and little tricks to improve their growth and harvest. Companion plant radishes, and spread wood ash around onions to deter onion maggots. Check for slugs. Place strips of copper around the plants or builders sand. Replace plants with those they don’t like with basil, parsley, sage, beans, corn, chard, pumpkin and sunflower. The old gardeners’ adage of perimeter plant the garden with marigolds to deter insects is not an effective insect repellant. Nasturtium do repel many insects but attract aphids drawing them away from targeted plants. Some believe for better germination, plant bean seed “looking down.”
Ants are numerous these days. Other than calling an exterminator, try scattering baking powder (not soda) or fresh powdered cinnamon. The latter can be messy but works.
• Event — UK Extension Service horticulture webinar, 1 p.m. each Wednesday. A new subject each week. Sign up at https:uky.zoom.us/j/566301042. The free webinar is limited to 300. You may leave before the session is completed.
Contact Carolyn Roof, the Sun’s gardening columnist, at email@example.com.