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Perfect time to enjoy midsummer gardens in full bloom

These photos were taken in a flower garden near Ottertail Lake in Minnesota. Submitted photo1 / 2
A variety of hostas combined with other flowering combinations add to the garden's striking beauty.2 / 2

Midsummer is peak time for flower gardens. Take time to visit and enjoy as many as you can. I spent a Saturday on the Perham garden tour and saw nine glorious gardens. Many were on a grand scale, but even a neighbors' small garden may have much to show and most gardeners want to show off their creation. Another place you may visit is NDSU for both the demonstration and campus gardens. It you are up for a little trip, Bergeson's Nursery in Fertile, Minn. and Clemens and Munsinger Gardens in St. Cloud are all spectacular. I plan to visit the Arboretum in Chanhassen in August.

Many of the gardens I visited had vast arrays of Hostas. There are hundreds of varieties of Hosta in many combinations of green, blue-green, gold and white. They range from giant sizes to ones as small as a teacup and the leaves come in many different shapes. Some even do well in some sun.

Daylilies and lilies are blooming in their bright colors. The daylily blossom is only open for a day, but each stem has several buds. As one flower goes out of bloom another opens up the next day. Some daylilies only bloom once a season, but others such as 'Stella d'Oro' and 'Happy Returns' send up new stems throughout summer and fall. Lilies have a short season of bloom; however, with different varieties you can have some in bloom for a long time. The Asiatic lilies bloom first followed by the trumpet lilies and finally the Oriental types.

Tall phlox (paniculata) begin their bloom time in mid-July to August and they smell so nice. Monarda or Beebalm is very showy now as are Coneflowers and Liatris. All of the hydrangeas are wonderful, especially 'Annabelle.' Bright yellow Rudbeckia glows in the sun, as does Ligularia in the shade. The annuals are in full bloom now although Pansies and Lobelia wimp out in the heat. The annuals will carry on until frost and keep the garden colorful until tall sedums, mums and asters star in the show.

There is so much to enjoy, but still plenty of work to keep it all looking nice. Daylily and Hostas begin to look untidy if you don't cut down the stems. Cut them as far down as you can. Cut off the spent lily heads to just where the leaves start. Lilies need as much foliage as possible to build up their bulbs for next year. Keep deadheading most other perennials but you may wish to leave Astilbe heads. Cut back Allysum and petunias and this will force new bushy growth and flowers. Pinch off the flowers on coleus and cut some stems to make new plants. Just put them in water or potting soil. Keep watering containers and fertilize weakly weekly.

Of course, there are weeds, weeds, weeds so keep pulling and hoeing, especially before they set seeds. Watch carefully for insects and disease and treat them as early as possible. Use Sluggo (nonpoisonous slug bait) under your Hostas as they drink too much beer!