I’m working on a garden plan for a client’s summer cottage, and she wants the peak color period to happen during July. She needs a no fuss garden that is deer resistant. The beds are in full sun as well as in morning sun /afternoon shade. There was one one request: no day lilies (plus the deer love them!). Works for me, and since it happens to be mid July as I take on this project, a walk about the garden gives me plenty of plant subjects to consider. Interestingly, many of these plants have become garden favorites, as I have already done individual plant portraits of many in this blog ( links provided).
First there is the understated but charming Kalimeris integrifolia ‘Blue Star’. From late June through August, starry light blue daisies atop 2′ plants welcome butterflies and bees. Nearby Calamintha nepeta is beginning to be abuzz with pollinators, its delicate small white tinted blue lipped blossoms begin in July and carry on into fall. Allium ‘Millennium’ is beginning to delight with lavender purple orbs on 15″ stems. Acanthus hungaricus which took a few years to establish but is thriving in well drained sunny spots for us, adds a commanding presence. Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Golden Arrow’ which seems to have happier looking foliage when it gets some mid day shade, is aglow with lemon lime colored leaves and ruby pink spires.
Grown for striking purple foliage as much as for it’s handsome pineapple lilies is Eucomis ‘Oakhurst‘. Then there is Leucosceptrum japonicum ‘Golden Angel’ which has formed a handsome 3′ x 3′ specimen…..it’s citrus yellow foliage is brightening up a partially shaded spot. It won’t bloom until early fall, but I really appreciate this plant more for its foliage than its flowers. Also in our beds which receive both sun and shade is the amazing Aralia ‘Sun King’, with its bold yellow foliage. Later in the season it gets white “sputnik-like” flowers followed by black seed heads.
Summer blooming shrubs play an important role in the easy care garden, and the first plants I consider are Hydrangeas. Now in our zone 6A garden, surprise freezes torment us in mid spring, and we often discover that H. macrophylla hybrids’ buds get whacked by the cold. Oak leaf Hydrangea forms have been much more reliable, and we love the double flowered Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake‘ as a backdrop plant in our shadier beds. Of course the magnificent Stewartia pseudocamellia var koreana was in glorious bloom for the 4th of July but there is still a succession of flower buds as we now enter the 3rd week of the month.
One very special plant that few people seem to be growing is the Japanese Clethra, C. barbinervis. This species forms a large shrub, or can be pruned to 1 or several leaders to form a small tree. Panicles of white fragrant flowers are born during July and August. Fall color varies with shades of yellow and orange. A nice surprise is the exfoliating bark which is best appreciated when plants are grown with a tree like form.
Of course there are the annuals and tender perennials that really begin to show off now that warm days are here to stay. I couldn’t be without Salvia guaranitica in its various forms: ‘Black and Blue’, purple flowering ‘Amistad’ , ‘Argentine Skies’ and a species form that we acquired years ago as ‘Kobalt’. In fact both ‘Kobalt’ and ‘Argentine Skies’ have been wintering over for us in well drained soil here in our zone 6 garden.
What are your top 5 deer resistant plants for the July garden?