MY GARDEN PATH: Welcome to summer!

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press Some of my foxgloves in bloom.

June certainly did fly by. With a little luck, maybe July will last a bit longer.

As usual, there are plenty of chores to keep us gardeners occupied. If you grow primroses, these need to be divided every three years. Now is a good time to do this chore as they’re done with their spring bloom, but will bless us with some nice flowers again this fall when the weather cools off.

If you’d like to move some Oriental poppies, they’re picky about when to do that. Keep an eye on them and when the foliage dries up in mid-summer, go ahead and dig the roots. They don’t like this being done while they’re in active growth.

It’s a shame that most of our perennials have a short blooming season with most of them being done after a couple of weeks. Luckily for us, there are some that will stay in bloom a long time. These include: coreopsis, black-eyed susans, coneflowers and dianthus. That last one is a close relative to carnations and will continue producing blossoms for many weeks. Most dianthus plants stay on the short side and don’t need to be staked either, so that’s another plus.

The local dogwood trees were especially beautiful this spring. There are two kinds that produce the big flower displays. Cornus Florida blooms in May and has rounded leaves and blooms. Cornus Kousa blooms in June with both the leaves and blooms on it being pointed. There is also one known as Red Twig dogwood, but it has much smaller blossoms. It’s main claim to fame is the red twigs that look so pretty as they poke out of a snowbank during winter.

Once again, we can see blooming roses in yards as we drive down the street. Unfortunately, so many of these roses are not what was planted. In our area, we often lose the top section of many grafted rose bushes due to cold winter weather. Once that part of the plant is dead, the only growth will come up from the hardy root stock which is usually one called Dr. Huey. It produces lots of long thin canes and small dark red flowers. If you once had a rose bush that bloomed pink, white, yellow, lavender, etc., and it now blooms dark red, your bush is dead and will never return. Dig it out and try again. This time, make sure you hill soil up over that knobby graft before winter hits. Late October to early November is usually a good time to do this.

If you live in the Post Falls area, be sure to enjoy our arboretum. This stretch of various trees is located along both sides of the I-90 freeway, between Idaho and Spokane streets. There is a large variety of trees growing there to see.

Many of us enjoy growing foxgloves. These are a very interesting plant, in many ways. First of all, they are considered to be a biennial, meaning it takes them two years to bloom. The first year, they produce a short rosette of leaves, the second year, they grow tall with bloom stalks reaching as high as 5 feet. Once you get them established in your yard, you should have both 1st and 2nd year plants, thus assuring you of blooms each year.

Many of you know that foxgloves are the source of a heart medication called digitalis. This was discovered in 1775 and is still being used today to treat congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation among other conditions. A word to caution: foxgloves can be poisonous if consumed. I’ve always had dogs and have never had one eat any of this plant, so I don’t think this is a common occurrence.

As far as what you CAN eat out of your garden, lots of lettuce, beans, spinach, etc,. are ripe for the picking … and they’re good for you too!

• • •

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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