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What to do in summer and, oh yeah what flowers?

What to do in summer and oh yeah, what flowers?    

Bob Sussman 7/20/2017.

You’re welcome to direct any questions to me 805-523-8604 or email or Facebook works too. Here’s the link:

Look, anyone can have a beautiful flowering garden in spring or just about. But, you don’t want is after spring rolls around – everything looks, well dormant or done is a nice way to put it. Most of us, and hard to believe even I am guilty of this but I’m getting better at thinking about “what comes next”? What are you supposed to do to make everything look neat, clean, and natural too – perhaps a contradiction and flowering again? How do you keep the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds and lots of other creatures well feed and in your garden?

Ok, let’s start with maintenance. You can start cutting back some things but not everything. Surprisingly, a lot of our California natives will look better with a small hair cut for summer. And some things like Ceanothus and manzanitas you pretty much leave alone or if your want to cut them back – give them a small trim in early winter. Things like salvia you can cut the tips and you might get a second set of flowers.

But, but, but, but, you can trim things and neaten things all you want but what will flower and provide interesting color from early summer through winter, in the words of Billy Shakespeare, “that is the question”.

Plants that flower summer though winter?

 While most plants flower in spring there are some of our California natives and other drought tolerant plants from the southwest that flower summer through early winter. There are also some that flower spring and then with a bit of irrigation (as in 2x watering) will flower again in fall. This will keep you garden looking interesting all year and also feed the wild things too.

Here are a few suggestions and not exhaustive by any means. If I wrote this article a month from now I might add a few other items, who knows. In any case these are easy to grow and include ground covers for sun and shade, small shrubs, taller shrubs, and taller still!

Ground Covers

Try Erigeron –seaside daisy, Calylophus –sundrops, and Salvia spathacea – one for the shade.

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calylophusberlandieria copy 3salviaspathacea copy 21

Small Shrubs-these are used for borders, edges of trees, understory near a building.Some easy ones would be Mexican tulip poppy, foothill penstemon,California fuchsia.

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Medium to taller shrubs– generally these are used against a structure like a house, fence, or wall. These tend to range in size from 2-1/2’ to 4’ with the same width. These would include plants like lemmon sage, desert mallows, Verbena lilacina.

salvialemmoniimonarch copy

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This should give you a few ideas about what to plant in your garden that will color in your landscape all year. There is a good range of suggested plants but there are many more that could easily be included- these were just at the “top of my head” at this moment – tomorrow the list could be different- just step outside and walk around. These will also attract cool wild things to your garden too, the other dimension that you want to consider.

It really doesn’t take much – a few things or even one thing flowering brightens everything up and makes a big big difference. Take a look… from the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden…the red flowers are the California fuchsia.  The person in the middle is not part of the plant landscape.

MeadowSBBG copy

You’re welcome to direct any questions to me 805-523-8604 or email or Facebook works too..

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Featured Plant



Botanical Name

Salvia apiana

Common Name

white sage


Flower Color


Mature Size

4 tall × 3 wide

Climactic Requirements


Full Sun


Drought Tolerant
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