Quick fix for lost color

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Garden calamity takes many forms, including a Labrador retriever puppy with a cucumber fixation. 

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 everything.
  • 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 black holes.

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.SedumToMovN7760s.jpg

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.SedumMovdN7771s.jpg

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 fall.
We put an elastic tarp strap around the sedum's stems before we dig, cinching them in so they support each other and guard against breakage.


Add one $20 basket of petunias and what was an unfortunate empty spot is colorful continuity in the border.PhloxOrPerN7773S.jpg


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 regularly.





















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