Once the dog days of summer hit, flower gardens generally start looking tired. Colors wash out, edges brown, blossoms become fewer in number. But Catherine Mix needs glorious, color-filled beds from June to September. As co-owner of The Cutting Garden in Sequim, Washington, with her husband, Tom, she tends several acres of gardens that serve as a lush backdrop for weddings and other outdoor events and provide blooms for the bouquets and flower arrangements she creates. So she's discovered plants and strategies that deliver a brilliant show even in late summer. Here are some of her tricks that any homeowner can try:
Make it easy. Mix grows a wide array of plants, including long-blooming annuals like asters, cosmos, zinnias, sunflowers, lisianthus, and celosia. After planting, she mulches once with a 3-inch layer of rich compost to deter weed seeds, conserve soil moisture, and add nourishment. She also grows a number of flowers that self-seed in her beds. "If you don't weed too hard in spring, these come back every year," she says.
Shown: A brick walkway surrounded by vibrant blooms wends its way through an arch in this Spokane, Washington, garden. The plantings showcase some of grower Catherine Mix's favorites for late-season color: towering multicolored dahlias, as well as snapdragons (shown in white) that she keeps in bloom with constant deadheading.