Plantings for Summer Color

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Annuals put on a show, but consider the leaf when adding color as well.

I have spent more time harvesting vegetables than planting. Weeding has been a task too. Most of my undertakings around the home have been focused on improving the energy efficiency of my home for the
coming summer, and we already have the that. I noticed on my electrical bill that the usage was down. Having some free time the other day, I headed over to a local garden center to see if anything causes interest. I had noticed that my winter and early spring flowers are beginning to fade, so some color is needed for the summer.
    When I want more color, annuals are better. Several plants which bring blooms during the summer are coming back. I am looking forward to the turk’s cap and lantana. These are white and red flowers respectively. The chrysanthemums are growing large with flowers starting to peek out. The crepe myrtle is on its way, as is the bougainvillea. I enjoy watching the return of plants. This process is one of the few indicators of different seasons in Houston.
    While at the nursery, I decided to look for some colorful plants to fill in spaces left by the waning annuals. I picked up a few dwarf day lillies. I have been transplanting my day lilly patches by dividing them. Day lilly flowers make great thickeners for soups (not all day lillies are edible though). Th dwarf variety gives me some yellow flashes in one spot. However, color does not just come from flowers. When I spotted a type of artemesia that I did not have, I began looking at leaf structure and color. The grey-green (almost white) of this artemesia makes for a nice focus. I coupled this with a verbenna. The dark green, feathery leaves of the verbenna with its purple flowers is a nice contrast. Considering a small border strip where my Cuban iris blooms in spring, I thought cladiums would add reds, greens, yellows, and whites. My last choice was coleus. These shade loving plants are doing well in sunnier locations now. One plant had a chocolate color, another various reds, and the last type was a mixture between greens, yellows, and reds. These plants do grow well into a small bushy mass. I do not know why I had moved away from coleus in the garden, but they are such versatile plants, while adding interest. I guess that I simply stopped making cuttings for the next year, but this is not so hard to do.   
    To produce more flowers requires more fertilizer and watering. Since I am trying to reduce both fertilizer and water, I felt that adding color through leafs, and having changing leaf texture was a good option. I am waiting to see how this summer garden will fill out.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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