Daisies of Summer

Daisy-like flowers are a frequent and welcome sight in summer . . . they adorn a number of plants of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are great as cut flowers and others make wonderful accents in the garden. Here are some familiar and not-so-familiar favorites:

Shasta Daisy
High on the list for outstanding cut flowers in summer is the Shasta Daisy. This one to three-foot tall perennial is a hardy grower and prolific bloomer all summer long. The flowers, in most cases, have white petals with golden centers. They prefer a moist, well-drained location that gets more sun than shade. Water regularly and feed with Super Bloom to encourage large flowers and prolonged bloom. Keep the old blooms snipped to encourage continuous flowering through the summer.

Gloriosa Daisy
For those who prefer earthy colors, there is the Gloriosa Daisy or Black-Eyed Susan. This hot sun lover reaches 4 feet high with 4-6 inch blooms in yellow, orange, mahogany, maroon and stripes. They bloom summer through fall and most have the traditional black center.

Blanket Flower
For cut flowers in the same colors, you can count on the Blanket Flower. This perennial blooms continuously from June through September in red, yellow and orange. Some strains have red petals with yellow tips.

These are mounding little golden daisies that grow in full sun and bloom most of the warm season, spring through fall.  They look nice with grasses, giving the impression that a stream must be nearby. Also seen in pale yellow as well as wine red.

Santa Barbara Daisy
One of the easiest daisies to grow, and very water-wise.  Adds a sparkle to the flower garden, usually grows about 12″ high and 18″ wide.


Edible Landscape – Saving Water

You’ve just savored that juicy tomato fresh from your garden – vine ripened and still warm from the sun. A little salt is the only accompaniment it needs. And that tree ripened July peach – so juicy you had to lean over the grass to keep the drips off of your front. There is more harvest from your backyard to come: grapes, apples, figs, winter squash and . . . mercy(!) another couple of zucchinis to bake into zucchini bread.

We’ve had some record breaking heat this summer, and our usual run of the mill heat, which kept me running to the hose for in-between-the-schedule-watering. So it seems like a good time to consider a few ideas for trimming your water use for your next garden. But no worries, we will never water shame you!

Tips for Saving Water

  • What better way to use a precious resource than growing your own bountiful garden full of tasty produce?
  • Prepare your soil well with compost (Bumper Crop and G & B are two we like) and replenish yearly. Or make your own from all those fallen leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Compost acts like a sponge to hold water.
  • Water use is mainly influenced by temperatures. Schedule plantings for the appropriate season. Cool season veggies: leafy greens, peas, broccoli, etc. grow well in the fall and spring and are less water intensive than warm season veggies.
  • Soak soil to saturate root zones and below so that a reservoir of soil water is available for the plant to draw from, eliminating the need for frequent, shallow watering.
  • Reduce tomato watering after the fruit has set and is beginning to color up.
  • Heat wilting of big leafed plants (squashes, pumpkins etc.) on hot afternoons is normal and doesn’t always mean the plant is thirsty.
  • Prune fruit trees in summer. A more compact tree uses less water.
  • Try an Earth Box. It’s a space saving growing system with a built in reservoir and soil cover and is surprisingly productive.
  • Provide a bit of afternoon shade with taller, more sun loving plants (tomatoes) planted south of those that could use a break from broiling afternoon sun (peppers, eggplant, cucumbers). Or set up your beach umbrella temporarily.
  • Mulch Mulch Mulch. Much Mulch!

Refresh your Japanese Maples


August is a great time to refresh summer scorched Japanese Maples. Snip off crispy leaves even if it means de-leafing the plant. Feed with Master Nursery Formula 49 and in four weeks to the day, your maple will look “spring” refreshed, just in time for the new leaves to color up for fall.

What to do with sun-scorched leaves

If your Japanese Maple leaves are burnt you can revitalize them. Maple leaves can burn during the summer months not only from the heat but also from the wind and our alkaline soil and water.

To correct that burnt look, remove the foliage by gently pulling or snipping the damaged leaves off each branch.  If you pull the leaves, they will snap at the stem and leave a little bit of themselves on the tree.  If you push each leaf, backward toward the stem and beyond.  it will peel off cleanly at the leaf node.

Follow this with an application of fertilizer, either Master Formula 49, or Maxsea Acid Plant Food. The fertilizer gives the plant a needed energy boost, encouraging it to leaf out again. Your maple will leaf out again in 3 to 4 weeks looking spring refreshed.

Remember: Schedule your fertilizing for a time when your plants are not thirsty and the day is not too hot, (it should be under 85).

Improve next years’ leaves in spring by supplementing your feeding with Dyna-Gro Protekt. It provides soluble silica for the leaf-building process so the cell walls of each leaf are tougher and more resilient against the stressors of dry summer heat.

Additionally, help your Japanese maples through the year with pH adjusting soil additives, (Soil sulfur, Iron sulfate, or F.S.T.). Fall, spring, and mid-summer applications are recommended.  Come in for details.

Late Summer Garden Color

Low – 4-6″

alyssum - summer garden color

August flower beds often suffer something of an identity crisis. Many of the annuals we planted early in the year are past their prime. But, while it’s a hot and dry time of the year, it’s not too late for planting some late summer garden color.




There are many garden flowers ready to turn even the most unsightly bare spots into a bright, colorful oasis. Spruce up your sunny flower beds with these options.

Medium – 8-10″
marigolds, petunias and vinca flowers - summer garden color

Tall 18″+
cosmos, zinnias and snap dragons

With the exception of the zinnias, all of the above will do well in half sun, half shade. New Guinea impatiens and begonias will also brighten any spot that gets a full morning of sun or shade. Remember that you can create living bouquets with these annuals.

All but the Vinca would also benefit from the addition of Soil Moist Granules, cutting the water needs by half.





Perennials from 6-packs

The end of summer marks a perfect time to invest in your garden with a few starts of perennial or biennial color. Planting these young plants now will allow them to establish over winter and bloom gloriously next spring.  This is a very satisfying way to garden. These plants are small, young, easy to plant and grow, and for a small investment, you can enjoy a wealth of rewards next year.

Bhollyhock-fredricksiennials include Foxgloves, Hollyhocks, and Canterbury Bells. They complete their life cycle by bridging 2 years. Start them in 2017 and enjoy them in 2018.



Perennials continue to bloom beyond a couple years and more. These include Coral Bells, various daisies, Delphinium and Verbena.

Planting in the fall is gentle on plants and allows them to establish more easily.

armeria-fredricksCome in to see our 6-pack and 4″ perennial collection.  Also look in our 6-pack sun groundcover section; Verbena, Santa Barbara Daisy and African Daisy, Sea Pink, among others are great perennials to plant now.

Prepare a generous planting hole for each plant. (If you prepare a 1-gallon size hole for these 2″ plants, you will soon have a 1-gallon size plant.)

status-fredricksStart them out well with E. B. Stone Sure Start Organic Fertilizer with Mycorrhizae (a beneficial fungus).

Herbs for Cooking

With vegetable garden well established, now is a good time to consider adding some herbs to flavor those dishes!

Herbs can make a familiar dish new or lift an ordinary entrée to gourmet status. Their subtle magic transforms soups, stews, salads, bread, and even desserts. With a bouquet of herbs or a scattering of herb flowers as a garnish, your food will look as wonderful as it tastes.

basil Basil – It’s warm, heady flavor lends itself to Italian or Mediterranean cooking, especially tomato dishes or with eggs, cheese or salads. Special tips: Pesto Sauce: blend 2 c. of fresh basil, ¼ c. of parmesan, ½ c. of olive oil, 3 tbs. of pine nuts or walnuts and 3 cloves of garlic minced. Use on pasta and vegetables.
chives Chives – The subtle onion flavor of chives is perfect in omelets, salads, soups, or on potatoes and other vegetables. Special tips: Get rid of onion odor by chewing on a fresh parsley sprig.
dill Dill – Used for pickling, dill is also wonderful in salads, sauces, soups or bread on vegetables and fish. Special tips: Try pickling green beans, carrots, new potatoes or peppers with a bit of dill.
lavender150 Lavender – The addition of culinary grade lavender in tiny amounts can jazz up dishes as diverse as grilled pork chops, to scones, cakes, and even candy.
margoram150 Marjoram – Like oregano but sweeter, this flavor is perfect in Mediterranean dishes, meats, and vegetables.
mint150 Mint – The flavor of mint is refreshing, cool and sweet, especially good in iced drinks and teas, with lamb or in salad dressings. Special tips: Minty sun tea: Put 8 tea bags, ½ c. of fresh mint leaves and 1 gal. of water in clear glass jar. Set in a sunny spot for several hours. Serve over ice. Plant mint only in a container. it can take over a garden bed if planted in the ground.
parsley150 Parsley – For a clean sharp and peppery taste, add to vegetables and salads as a garnish. Include in sauces, soups, stews, and stuffing. Special tips: Parsley is high in Vitamins A, C, and B.
rosemary150 Rosemary – The flavor of rosemary is bold and piney. Use it in pickles, jams, preserves, and sauces, as well as meats and soups. Special tips: Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush at your next barbeque, or put some on the coals for a great aroma.
sage150 Sage – Warm, slightly bitter, this flavor is a must for turkey stuffing, as well as pork, duck and sausage seasoning. Special tips: Dried sage leaves are used as a substitute for coffee or tea.
tarragon150 Tarragon – A spicy, sharp flavor with licorice and mint overtones, tarragon lends itself to French cooking, egg dishes, fish, and salad dressing. Special tips: Tarragon vinegar: Pour a qt. of cold vinegar over ½ c. fresh tarragon leaves, cap and store for 4 weeks.



Dave’s Rose Fertilizer Program

This program, inspired by the late, David Lowell who warmed a room with his smile and personality. He was a local rose expert. Dave’s Rose feeding program provides for general plant vigor and wonderful looking roses! For use on established roses only (planted for at least 6 months).
Apply in AUGUST and also MARCH.

For each rose apply:

•  5-5-5 August only application – 1/2 cup/rose ~4# box for 18 roses
(March application is recommended using 16-16-16 fertilizer)
• Bone Meal 1/2 cup per rose (4# bag for 18 roses)
• Sulfur* 1/2 cup per rose (5# box for 18 roses)
• Gypsum 1/2 cup per rose (5# box for 18 roses)
• Magnesium Sulfate 2 Tbs. per rose (5# box for 70+ roses)
• Chicken Fertilizer 1 shovel per rose (1 bag for ~9 roses)

daves-rose-august*to supply sulfur, use one of the following: Iron Sulfate, Iron Plus*, or Soil Sulfur. Iron ­containing products can stain. Wash off adjacent paving after ­application. (*Iron Plus is non-staining.)

Sprinkle the first 5 ingredients around each rose and mix into soil if possible. Then sprinkle the chicken fertilizer around each rose and water everything in.

Do NOT combine this recipe with systemic rose fertilizer. It poses a serious health risk to pets if ingested. Pets are attracted to the bone meal and may ingest systemic rose food if it is included in this recipe – or applied other months in the same area.

A two-inch mulch layer may be put around your roses to conserve water and insulate roots from summer heat.

For an interesting read on the history of hybridizing roses written by David Lowell, click here. Jackson & Perkins roses were grown in Pleasanton before relocating to the Central Valley in the mid-1960s.

Summer Container Watering Tips

Container plants in the heat of August Dog Days can dry out in less than a day, on the other hand, plants can suffer from over-watering if temperatures drop but watering frequency does not.


Test soil around plants before watering.
Soil should be only slightly moist before liberally applying water to any plant whether in your garden or in a container. Poke the probe of a moisture meter about 1″ deep around different parts of the container to get an accurate sense of the moisture levels.

Water each plant. 
At the nursery, we water frequently in the summer heat. The correct procedure is to water the containerized plant until the water runs slightly over the top sides of the container and drains out the bottom of the container. If it drains quickly, then water it twice.

How often do I water? 
This is a frequently asked question. You can become the best judge because you know the surroundings better than we do. Test the soil around the plant. Water thoroughly if needed. Check the soil moisture frequently and allow the plant to go slightly dry before watering thoroughly again. After 2 or 3 times of following this procedure, you will know the intervals of days the plant can go without watering again. On excessively hot days check plants 2 times!

Watch the Weather
Remember, if there is a drastic change of temperature, either way, it will affect your watering schedule. As a rule of thumb, hanging baskets need to be watered daily. In hot spells, twice a day is not overdoing it.

Add water holding polymer
Soil Moist to all your container plantings of flowers and shrubs. It will help cut your watering in half.

Add a plant Nanny
Plant Nannies provide an extra reserve of water than can carry a plant through a hot stretch, available as decorative globes, or wine bottle/pop bottle versions.

Water seeps into the soil as needed, controlled by vacuum pressure building inside the vessel.

August Pruning

Pruning in August improves plant form just ahead of fall’s growth spurt. Light shaping now will look wonderful after new fall growth arrives in the weeks ahead.

Note: Plants that are experiencing drought stress should not be pruned, or should be well watered in the days ahead of pruning.


August is an excellent month for pruning many shrubs and trees in the landscape, just ahead of the fall growth spurt. It’s also a perfect time for pruning backyard fruit trees for size control. Removing excess growth now instead of waiting until January will help keep fruit trees smaller.

August pruning is characterized more by shaping and size control than by thinning or heavy structural corrections.

Heading Back

is a method of shortening existing branches to a more desirable length. Growth is redirected by pruning to a bud that will grow in the direction you wish. Pruning to an outside bud will keep the center of the plant open and free from crossing branches.


Thinning is a technique where a whole branch or twig is removed back to a “Y” junction. Light thinning is appropriate for August pruning to remove some of the weight off of droopy branch tips. A combination of thinning and heading back will tighten up a leggy plant and encourage more compact growth.


“Pinching” involves cutting away the growth tip and a few leaves on most of the branch tips.  It does not really change the shape or size of a plant but encourages two stems to sprout where there was only one. The plant will be twice as full after a growth spurt.

Size control is as simple as shortening a formal hedge back to its desired size but it is also employed in late summer to keep fruit trees in check.  No one but a bird needs a fruit tree to grow higher than you can easily reach. Now is the time to simply draw an imaginary line at a reasonable height (Such as 8 or 9 feet) and cut every branch that is growing above that line.  This is important to do as the tree is young and reaching skyward but if your tree is already well above its target height, save the heavy reconstructive surgery until January and bring in a picture, we can coach you.

As fall approaches and cold weather beyond, all pruning on citrus trees should be finished by the first of September to allow time for the leaves to harden off before winter.  Prune now to shape or to reduce the size.  Also, clean up dead wood and thin lightly to allow light into the center of the tree.

Prune only the individual stems that have just finished flowering and let the other stems remain, (they will bloom next year). Prune these individual stems back deep into the shrub to just above a bud, or prune back flowering stalk lightly.

If you are not sure what to prune now, send us an email or a picture with your questions to info@aldenlane.com


August Garden Checklist

checkbox[1] Keep after tomato hornworms and Petunia budworms with another application of Monterey B.T. Caterpillar Killer. It’s an effective, safe environmental control.

checkbox[1] Don’t forget your citrus! In order to get bumper crops feed lemons, oranges and other citrus monthly with Master’s Citrus Food. Remember to water the day before applying fertilizers. Also avoid feeding or treating on extra hot days.

checkbox[1] Treat compacted soils and lawns with EZ Wet. No amount of water or food will do the lawn any good if it isn’t reaching the roots. This soil penetrant opens the soil to water, air and food for lush green growth. Aerating your lawn is most helpful in improving water penetration too.

checkbox[1] Keep those flowerbeds neat and blooming! Deadhead (remove all old flowers). Cut back leggy petunias. Fertilize with Master Rose and Flower Food to encourage more flowers.

checkbox[1] Clean up around fruit trees and pick any left-over fruit that can harbor insect pests or soft rot fungus. A light pruning to shape can be done now.

checkbox[1] Is your garden suffering from the summer blahs? Perk it up with colorful petunias, marigolds, vinca and dahlias!

checkbox[1] Sow flower seeds. Many wildflowers and spring blooming annuals grow from seeds scattered now. Try California Poppy, Bachelor Button, and Alyssum. Also plant biennials such as hollyhock from seed now.

checkbox[1] Hard to believe but it’s time to start planting winter vegetables! The cabbage family members, root crops, and leafy vegetables such as broccoli, beets, carrots, radishes, onions, spinach and chard are ready to be planted this month from seed. (Farmers in the valley are planting winter vegetable crops from seed this month.) Planting from seed now allows for a deep, established root system and a very long growing season resulting in larger harvests. Starter plants are available in mid-September.

checkbox[1] Start working now to prevent fall weeds. Apply Bonide Crabgrass & Weed Preventer. This product does a great job of creating a protective barrier to prevent the pesky annual bluegrass. If you plan to reseed your lawn next month, delay this application.

checkbox[1] August is a great time to refresh summer scorched Japanese Maples. Snip off crispy leaves even if it means deleafing the plant. Feed with Dyna-Gro Protekt. In four weeks to the day your maple will look Spring refreshed. Just in time for the new leaves to color up for fall.