Filling the gaps after mid-season plant loss
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So many things can happen to steal the color from a garden.
- Who knew the new puppy would decide that marigolds not only
taste good but might be covering up buried treasure?
- Such a freaky thing, that a bee would sting the mower and cause
him to run right over the petunias.
- It's true that rabbits and groundhogs usually make their
presence known early and frequently, but when a family of
groundhogs appears out of the blue they can devastate the dianthus
in just a day.
- Pepper plants are deer resistant... but not if a deer decides
to bed down in that row of the vegetable garden, squashing
- Impatiens' bright color may have drawn your eye to a particular
spot for two months, but they can be killed in a week by impatiens
downy mildew. (Infectious only on Impatiens, so a
different species can be planted to fill in there.)
Drifting herbicide, tippy barbecue grills, utility dig-ups, you
name it, it can happen. The gaps created seem even larger when they
appear in late summer, transforming height of the season color into
When such calamity strikes, people often say, "Oh well, just let
it go. Summer's over anyway."
Summer's NOT over!
We say, "No way!" There's still at least a month of garden color
left, and even more given the cold tolerant fall perennials and
annuals such as asters and petunias.
It's never too late to plant. Growers still have flowering baskets
for sale that can be dropped into the ground for instant show.
Garden centers are stocked with perennials that bloom at summer's
end. A bare spot in early August might come in handy for the second
sowing of broccoli or peas. If you work with care you can even
transplant some color into that bare spot.
Right: We said it in spring, "These tall sedums really should
be divided this year," but we didn't get around to doing it. So
there are at least two plants to spare here, bellying out over the
lawn. Once they're gone there is room to sow some colorful lettuce
there. It will be a great combination in front of the peony now
hidden by the sedum, as that perennial turns maroon in
We put an elastic tarp strap around the sedum's stems before
we dig, cinching them in so they support each other and guard
Add one $20 basket of petunias and what was an unfortunate
empty spot is colorful continuity in the border.
You probably have many stand-up plants that can fill gaps,
such as this dwarf garden phlox 'Orange Perfection.' One of our
favorites for its powdery mildew resistance, it's amenable to a
move and also very willing to bloom on and on if deadheaded
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