Hummingbirds are truly one of the joys of summer - tiny and feisty and beautiful. They like lots of concentrated nectar, preferably sucrose. Tubular flowers are best since they hold the most nectar. They are attracted to bright colors, with red being their favorite, but also yellow, orange, pink, and purple. There are many lists you can find online, but at the top of almost every list is Bee Balm. Others on the lists include Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis), Columbine, Daylilies, Salvia (the blue or purple ones), Foxglove, Butterfly Bush, Trumpet Vine, and Bleeding Heart. Also, some easy to grow annuals like Zinnias and Petunias attract them. Although not on any list I saw, at my house I have seen the hummingbirds visit the Guara, Crocosmia Lucifer, and Angelonia. Some trees preferred (according to one online list) are Crabapple, Tulip Tree, Horse Chestnut, Hawthorn, and Eastern Redbud. In my yard, they hang out in the Katsura Tree and go back and forth from the tree to the feeders and flowers all day long. I recently purchased a flat feeder and have found that the hummers love it as well as the upright feeder. They sit on the flat surface for several minutes at a time with their wings still, enjoying the sugar water. A combination of feeders and flowers can make your yard a favorite spot for these remarkable little creatures.

You can grow two herbs with similar size and needs in the same pot, but the pot will need to be twice as big if you want good growth. Rosemary and sage can grow into small shrubs within a season, so each needs its own pot. Basil is a small plant that needs a lot more water than other herbs, a separate pot would be best to hold 4-6 plants. Parsley is also a small plant, so one pot would be needed for 4-6 plants. Thyme and oregano could share a large pot.

Lavender is a sun worshiper, loves heat, and grows best in infertile, well-drained and slightly alkaline soil. Of course, lavender plants need soil, but will do just fine in an area where there are many small stones. Avoid heavy clay soil that does not drain well. Plant in the spring when danger of frost has passed, mixing some compost into the soil to get your plants off to a good start. Some lavender growers recommend putting a layer of crushed oyster shells or limestone in the bottom of the planting hole to improve drainage and to increase the alkalinity of the soil. Also, some suggest mulching around lavender plants with pea sized gravel. The theme, good drainage is essential. Fertilize sparingly or you will get leaves at the expense of flowers. Lavender thrives in dry conditions so be careful not to overwater to prevent root rot. Also, dry heat helps to release lavender’s strong and wonderful fragrance and because of that aroma, deer generally stay away.

In this area, the most commonly grown Lavender is English lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) because it survives best in our cold climate. Garden stores generally stock two cultivars, ‘Hidcote’ with silvery foliage and deep purple flowers and ‘Munstead’ with green foliage and a violet or blue-purple flower. In the past few years, one called ‘SuperBlue’ has become more popular and is one that I find does very well here. It is a little shorter and heavier blooming cultivar than the two mentioned above. Linda Phillips, Master Gardener

Spiny sowthistle is a winter annual that is actually in the sunflower family and not a true thistle. Spiny sowthistle spreads by seed. It flowers from late spring through the summer, depending on the location. The flower is yellow, resembling a dandelion, but forms in a corymbiform cluster. The root of spiny sowthistle is a taproot. It is found in waste areas and other open areas such as roadsides and thin turf. It can be controlled by mowing which prevents the stem and flowers from forming and eliminates seed formation. The plant can also be cut out. A postemergent herbicide application is effective when spiny sowthistle is young and actively growing but should not be needed if the location will be mowed. For best results, treat prior to bolting.

Canada Thistle is a rhizomatous perennial. Since Canada thistle has a deep root system, the only mechanical approach for controlling this weed is to exhaust the storage roots (exhaust perennial roots). Food reserves in the roots reach a minimum in June and then increase as food flows from the shoots to the storage roots. Consequently, shoots should be removed for the first time by early June. Mowing or repeated cutting may be used to help prevent the production of seeds and starving the plant. Persistent removal of the shoots before they attain several leaves will exhaust the storage roots within two years and eliminate the weed. One study found a 21 day weeding schedule was optimal. Postemergent applications of a systemic herbicide may be used. Fall is typically the best time for these treatments when the plant is translocating food reserves to the rooting structures. Other good times are during the early bolting stage when plants are 6-10” tall and during the bud to flowering stage. Some of the common lawn weed control materials are effective. Spot treatments are good for limited stands. Glyphosate products labeled for the use are effective. Lawns should be properly maintained to promote a healthy, dense turf that with managed mowing will compete well with weeds.

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