June is a great month in Cape Cod gardens and landscapes. Things change from week to week and as we enjoy the perennials and shrubs that are coming into flower, we’re also busy with new plantings. Here are some ideas and tips for making a yard into your happy place for the summer, and some photos of plants you might be noticing around your property or in Cape conservation areas.
Make sure your tomatoes have sturdy supports in place when they are small. Be sure to mulch around your young plants right away as well. Mulch keeps soil evenly moist, which helps prevent blossom end rot. It also delays the arrival of early blight fungus, and prevents weeds from germinating. Win, win, win!
Are you looking for a short, low-maintenance perennial? The dwarf varieties of balloon flower are the plant for you! Place these in groups of 3 to 7 plants, about 12 inches apart. Balloon flowers bloom in mid-summer, and they look good in front of the July-flowering daylilies.
The peonies are starting to flower in Cape gardens. 1. Don’t worry about the ants on peony blooms. They do NOT help flowers to open, nor do they hurt the buds. They are simply eating plant-sap that the buds are making at this time. 2. If your flowers are open and a rain is expected, pick them and bring the blooms indoors to enjoy. Rain usually bends them into the mud or makes the flowers go by faster, so you might as well have them inside where you can enjoy them for days. And 3. If your plants are prone to flopping, see how to stake peony flowers attractively here.
Are your azaleas still in flower? Enjoy! But if they’ve just gone past bloom, NOW is the time to prune them. Look for the new growth and cut it in half. When you prune this way your azalea will stay thick and full, without those tall, bare stems that can otherwise occur.
If you see this in your yard or in wild places, know that it’s a good native plant. This is bayberry. If it’s growing in your yard and you want it shorter, prune it down to the ground every spring and it will come back from the roots. Bayberry can also grow into a large, tall shrub or small-tree like plant. It’s one of the best plants for growing in dry, sandy soils.
This is Clethra, aka summersweet or sweet pepper bush. (No, it’s not where pepper comes from. That’s just one of its common names.) Look for the old seeds that hang down in gray or brown clusters for a positive ID. Birds love those seeds, btw, so it’s a nice plant for birds as well as an attractive native shrub in part-shade gardens.
The poison ivy is growing strong at this time of year. Watch for mature plants such as what is pictured here, or smaller leaves and seedlings that are growing under trees and shrubs. The birds eat the poison ivy seeds and deposit them in most Cape landscapes, so be alert and wear gloves when working in your gardens.