In May self-seeded forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) are the leitmotif of the garden, popping up in almost every free spot. In early June I leave enough to set seed but yank most of them out before they can stunt the growth of annuals just sprouting out of the ground or newly emerging perennials. Tulips are also very important in defining the spring garden. I have found that the lily-flowered varieties tend to be more perennial than most – provided the voles or chipmunks don’t eat the bulbs
In June the garden reaches a peak of beauty and abundance So many good things are in bloom, among them roses and peonies, and everything is still fresh and unblemished by insect attack or fungus. It all seems relatively effortless; you need only to stroll about the garden every day and watch the plants burst into glorious bloom. I have always said that if your garden doesn’t look lovely in June, then you might as well stop wasting your time and take up bridge or tennis instead. The real work is to keep the garden going through the next months and into fall.
July is the month for daylilies since many of the best varieties bloom now. Ten-foot-tall Macleaya cordata, the so-called plume poppy, adds stature to the garden. It looks nothing like a poppy but makes large blue-green leaves topped at this time with cream or coral plumes. The old farmyard variety I received from a friend twenty-five years ago is better than the commercially promoted ‘Coral Plume’; it has bluer leaves and doesn’t flop. Gardeners should be warned that both varieties spread rapidly by underground stolons and can be difficult to control.
August is often the least pleasant month of summer, but it is a time of wonderful fullness and abundance in the garden. Great clumps of perennials like Phlox paniculata and Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) give the garden a comfortable feeling of solid prosperity. Daylilies continue as the stars of the show.
By September most of the major players in the garden have come and gone, but the dahlias are at their peak. The garden feels ripe and full and the cooler weather is welcome. I am especially fond of September and am always trying to discover better flowers for this lovely month. Last year I ordered over twenty of the newest late-late-flowering daylily hybrids, out of which I’m hoping for some real stars.