MY GARDEN PATH: The fun continues…

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press Black-eyed Susans bloom a long time.

Another month is flying by. Things are growing, blooming and done almost before we know it. July is a good month for lilies. My Asiatics started to bloom even before July 1. They are so easy to grow and slowly increase each year. Even so, my favorites are the Oriental ones as they have bigger flowers and smell heavenly. All lilies require at least half a day of sunshine and good drainage. Too much soggy soil will rot the bulbs.

A completely different kind of lily is the foxtail lily. These seem to be rarely grown in our area, but I have some nice ones that bloom each year, beginning in late June. The blossoms don’t resemble most lily flowers, but are attractive in their own way. Each one has many tiny flowers arranged in a foxtail shape. They begin to bloom from the bottom up.

Are you seeing mildew on some of your plants? It is a common problem and some plants are very susceptible to it including columbine, bee balm and phlox. The experts tell us to work at prevention instead of a cure. That’s easier said than done. Prevention is mostly providing good air circulation around the susceptible plant, plus adequate water and fertilizer. If that didn’t happen and the mildew shows up, go to the hardware store and buy a bottle of fungicide spray. Follow the directions and soon your plant should be mildew free once more.

Speaking of bee balm, I had one for several years that bloomed red. It was very prone to powdery mildew. I finally yanked it out and now I have a taller one that blooms a pretty purple. This one seems to be pretty resistant to mildew, thankfully. I love sitting on the porch, watching the hummingbirds buzzing around it. They can’t seem to be able to decide whether to fight over it or share peacefully. This is a great plant to have if you enjoy watching the hummers.

The tomato plants are loving this warm weather. One thing to watch out for is something called “blossom end rot.” This appears as a brown spot on the bottom of each tomato and it continues to enlarge as the fruit grows bigger. To avoid this problem there are two crucial things the plant needs: adequate calcium and never being allowed to dry out. Most tomato fertilizers will have the calcium. As for the water, you will need to check daily to be sure the soil stays on the moist side.

Raspberry picking season has begun and boy, do they taste yummy. It’s amazing how many of them never make it to the house as most of us “pickers” can’t seem to resist eating at least one out of every three we pull off the canes.

July is THE month to dig, divide and plant irises. If you wait until fall, they won’t have time to get established because of their shallow root systems. There is really nothing mysterious about this task. Just dig the whole clump out of the ground using a fork or spade. Then cut the old middle section out and trash it. The outer parts of the plants are the viable ones. Cut off “fan” of leaves being careful to keep an attached portion of the rhizome, (thick root section). Cut the fans down to 4 or 5 inches, then replant in a nice sunny area. Water in and you’re done.

Black-eyed Susans will bloom a long time if you keep them deadheaded. Once a week, just snap off the finished blooms before they go to seed. This will keep them blooming for the rest of the summer.

A few days ago, our “front porch” robin’s nest lost its mooring and fell as she was sitting on her third batch of eggs. I felt sorry for her, but after all the work she’d put in already, raising eight babies, she probably needed a rest!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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