Summertime, Sweet Summertime

herbstonne rudbeckia

Our plants and flowers have been so beautiful this summer. I was looking through my pictures from the last few months and I was struck by all the beautiful blooms. Here are some plants that stood out from the crowd.

The daylilys were phenomenal. Although each bloom only lasts a single day, there is just something about a daylily that draws you in.

Daylily Blooms

I did an informal poll on our social media earlier this summer asking people about their favorite flowers. Daylilys and lilies were the top picks. If daylilys are one of your favorites and you want to see them in more colors than you can imagine, visit the Minnesota Arboretum in July and check out their daylily garden. Some of the flowers look like they were painted with watercolors.


Ornamental onions or Allium. We started carrying ‘Summer Beauty’ a few years ago because our designers saw them at botanical gardens and were really impressed with them. Since then we have added a few more cultivars to our plant list. I really think every gardener should find a spot for a few of these. The spherical purple blooms add such a nice contrast to other flower shapes both in the garden and as a cut flower. Plus, the foliage looks great all season. By planting multiple varieties, you can extend your bloom season through summer and into fall.


The blanket flowers have been blooming all summer long. Did you know that they are a North American native plant? As you can see by the photos, our native bees love to visit them!

herbstonne rudbeckia

And the ‘Herbstonne’ Rudbeckia by our north gate looked fantastic as it does every year. This is a plant that I feel is overlooked too often. Yes, it gets quite tall but it is disease and pest free and it blooms for a long time.

How have your annuals been doing this summer? The number one favorite annual I grew this year is Mexican sunflower. It got enormous. 8′ tall and 4′ wide with 2 1/2″ intense orange flowers all over it. I have never seen as many monarch butterflies in my yard as I did this year. It was constantly covered with butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds. It started blooming mid-June and it is still going strong.

I’m going to see if there is a more compact cultivar to grow next year. The plants were very sturdy but we did take precaution and tied them to our fence because they were so tall.

I planted Supertunia ‘Bordeaux’, Lobularia ‘Raspberry Stream’ and Angelonia in a one of my containers this year and I love it! Bordeaux is one of my favorite petunias. It has such a nice growth habit and doesn’t get leggy or grow wings like some of the other petunias do.

honey supertunia

Speaking of petunias. We have Supertunia ‘Honey’ planted in the bed by our landscape offices. While we were having those cooler nights in late August, I noticed that the red shades had grown stronger. And since the evenings have warmed up again, they have changed back to their summer color. It changes like a chameleon. How cool is that!

I tried something new this year. I have seen vines trained to climb trees at a couple public gardens, so this summer I tried to trellis my Mandevillas on a tree. Because you have to replace them every year, I’m not worried about hurting the tree.

pretty pink mandivilla

I think if I had started earlier, it would have worked. I didn’t get them until July and they are just starting to twine into the wire. I’m going to try again next year. Can you imagine a tree with a trunk covered in pink flowers? It is going to be so pretty.

I am generally more of a perennial gardener, but the hydrangeas this year have me looking for the right spot to plant one or two. They have been breathtaking. From ‘Annabelle’ to ‘Vanilla Strawberry’, the blooms have been showstopping.

Annabelle Hydrangea

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

I have space to plant one of the larger varieties, but if you don’t have room for a 8′ tall shrub, there are also petite hydrangeas that are only a few feet tall and wide such as ‘Bobo’ or ‘Little Lime’ available.

It has been a beautiful summer and now that the seasons are changing again, I am looking forward to see all the color that fall brings.

Written by

Cathy Maxson is Sargent's Gardens Perennial Growing manager. In addition to making sure Sargent's grown plants thrive, she enjoys growing in her own garden, canning fruits and vegetables, traveling, and walking her dogs.