Here’s what’s blooming in town this week to make your walks more enjoyable
Gardens are blooming all over town from cheerful wildflowers on the roadsides to special plants cherished in gardens. The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, will be this Tuesday, June 21. Roses are among the flowers renowned for soaking up the sunshine on these long days, but there are many other flowers that also bloom at this time.
In addition to the common daisies noted last week along the bike trail and many other places, there is the summery but more colorful painted daisy, which likes sunny locations in gardens. It makes a great addition to a bouquet, whether casual or more elaborate, with its bright yellow centers and eye-catching pink ray petals. Like other kinds of daisy, the flower is really a head of specialized disk and ray flowers. While it is native to Eurasia like the common daisy, which has grown wild all over North America, this one is less likely to spread with abandon. It is attractive to butterflies but, paradoxically, it is the source of some botanical pesticides called pyrethrins. The foliage smell makes it deer and rabbit resistant. Luckily for us in this season with low rainfall, it is also tolerant of dry, sandy soil.
Scrambling up mailboxes, lampposts, fences and other supports, the colorful hybrid clematis (Clematis spp.) varieties are climbing vines with large showy flowers that bloom a couple of times during the summer. Flowers may be white, several shades of purple or pink up to deep red. These large flowered hybrids are usually descended from a few Asian species, while many others have small much less conspicuous blossoms that last a briefer time. They climb primarily by wrapping the petioles of their compound leaves around narrow protuberances, such as small tree branches or trellises, so the best supports are likely to be metal tuteurs or fences. A tuteur is a self-supporting trellis, often an obelisk or tower shape, which allows the clematis to climb easily. They will not stick to a flat wall or twine around a post the way some vines can. The common advice on how to keep clematis happy is “tops in the sun, roots in the shade,” which may seem like a difficult thing to accomplish. Essentially it means the soil around the roots should not be allowed to dry out – they can have plants nearby or a groundcover that shades the soil, or the roots can be planted on the north side of a fence while the stems and foliage are fed out onto the sunny southern side to take advantage of available light. Margie Berkowitch’s beautiful vine has been kept happy for over 20 years growing on her fence.
The full strawberry moon was June 14. Wild strawberries ripen this month, although – thanks to greenhouse growing and to produce being shipped from around the world – strawberries can be found in markets year round. In past centuries, the arrival of the first fruits of the summer was a significant cause for celebration. The Saugus Historical Society’s Strawberry Festival this Saturday is a reminder of such seasonal milestones as the first local fruits of the season.
This time of year is ideal for planting, as there are still several months left for the roots to become established before winter sets in.
The Saugus Garden Club will have its annual plant sale tomorrow in conjunction with the strawberry festival, and many interesting plants will be available as well as some beautiful bouquets. Garden Club Copresident Donna Manoogian and quite a few other Saugonians have potted up some plants from their gardens that are sure to do well in our local area. Donna says she has dish gardens, over 60 perennial plants, and some shrubs, including about a dozen Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) and a blue hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Let’s Dance Rave.’ The plant sale will run from 9-1, and once you have chosen your new garden plants you can relax with a hot dog and some strawberry shortcake in the Legion Hall up until 2 p.m.
Editor’s Note: Laura Eisener is a landscape design consultant who helps homeowners with landscape design, plant selection and placement of trees and shrubs, as well as perennials. She is a member of the Saugus Garden Club and offered to write a series of articles about “what’s blooming in town” shortly after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was inspired after seeing so many people taking up walking.