Q: Now that the Houston summer heat is suddenly upon us, what can I do in the garden?
A: Summer, despite the hot, steamy Houston days, is a great time to be out in the garden.
Vincent Van Gogh said, “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” I like to get out early in the morning when you can really enjoy the beauty and look closely at the garden and nature. Just this morning while walking through Mercer Botanic Gardens, I spied tree frogs that almost blended into green plant stems, I heard wrens calling out their dawn chorus, and squirrels are already foraging in the mulch. Tomatoes in the vegetable garden are already turning red and deliciously ripe, and the firework-shaped bursts of crimson blooms on the blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus) in the Tropical Garden are striking.
The summer is an excellent time to tackle light tasks such as deadheading or removing spent flowers. Many plants such as salvias, echinacea, zinnias and most roses will rebloom when gently trimmed to remove the old stalks. Shade-lovers such as impatiens, coleus and begonias benefit from light pruning, allowing new growth and fuller plants that last all summer.
Try to accomplish these tasks in the early morning hours, and don’t forget to drink lots of water as you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.