The Summer Garden Explodes with Color, Fragrance, and Variety

The summer garden demonstrates nature at it most prolific.  Everything is rushing to grow, bloom and set seed seemingly all at once.  It is the time of year when we want to enjoy the outdoors and our garden, entertain friends and family and just enjoy nature.

“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”  Gertrude Jekyll

Spending time at home is a lot more pleasant with a beautiful garden to enjoy.  I love to watch the changes in the summer garden, and they often occur on a daily basis.  Day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month, the emphasis shifts as one plant or group peaks and takes the spotlight.  Planning for and anticipating these highlights is part of the fun.  For instance, if Oriental lilies are your special favorites, why not plan the garden to peak around their bloom and have a party to celebrate!

Hydrangea macroiphylla 'Dooley' with Echinacea purpurea 'Cone-fection Pink Double.'  A beautiful combination of blue hydrangea blossoms and double pink coneflowers.Hydrangea macroiphylla 'Dooley' with Echinacea purpurea 'Cone-fection Pink Double'

There are so many things one can do in the summer garden, so many plants to try, color combinations to experiment with, ways to use plants, and things to learn that there is no end to the discoveries and enjoyment to be had.  So, here are some of the choices for the summer garden and some great ideas to use.

Summer Perennials

Summer perennials are the backbone of the garden.  We eagerly await the return of bee-balm, coneflowers, daylilies, hostas, penstemons, phloxes, salvias and many more.  Daylilies are must-haves for the summer garden.  With a long bloom period (many are re-bloomers), and so many sizes and colors to choose from, there is the perfect daylily for nearly any situation.

Summer Bulbs

Summer bulbs are also indispensable, and there are so many gorgeous ones!  Lilies, of course, but there are also gladioli, elephant ears. caladiums, pineapple lilies, blackberry lilies, ginger lilies, naked ladies, callas and cannas and crinums, oh my!--the list goes on.

Summer Flowering Trees and Shrubs

There may not be as many flowering trees and shrubs in the summer as in the spring, but there is still a surprisingly good selection including abelias, butterfly bushes, crape myrtles, hydrangeas, roses, vitex and more.  What would a summer garden be without hydrangeas?  There are so many beautiful ones to choose from. 


And one must have roses in the summer garden.  To deprive oneself of their scent and color is to deprive oneself of one of the chief sensory delights of nature! What other flower can claim to have such beauty, color and perfume?  There are so many beauties to explore--Species Roses, Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses.


Annuals are powerhouse performers in the summer garden.  They grow quickly from seed inexpensively, fill in gaps, and provide color, texture and form.


Grow some herbs in your summer garden!  You don’t have to have a big vegetable garden or a dedicated herb garden, but you can tuck a few herbs into a sunny perennial bed or in containers.  What is better than snipping a few fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage, or thyme to use in cooking or on the grill?  Some herbs are ornamental in the border and add color and fragrance, too. 

Summer Vines

Add vertical accents to the border with summer vines.  Grow them on a fence, wall or trellis for height, to fill in gaps and hide unsightly views.

Container Planting

The summer garden is the time for container planting.  Have fun experimenting with color themes, textures and shapes for long-lasting accents for the garden.

Bees, Birds and Butterflies

The summer garden is a feast for bees, birds and butterflies.  They are great fun to watch, add color and movement to the garden and are essential for pollination.  Here are some good choices to attract these tiny dynamos to your garden.





Summer Bulbs

Summer Flowering Shrubs

Summer Flowering Trees

Summer Perennials

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Lilium 'Black Beauty'

Lilium 'Black Beauty'

Updated new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map 2023.