Summer in North Carolina means bright, colorful flowers blooming all season long. To celebrate, Nancy Goodwin, owner of the historic Montrose Gardens in Hillsborough, is sharing some of her favorite,
Summer in North Carolina means bright, colorful flowers blooming all season long. To celebrate, Nancy Goodwin, owner of the historic Montrose Gardens in Hillsborough, is sharing some of her favorite, easy-to-care-for summer blooms that will be garden stunners for years to come.
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Many grow a newer species of cosmos, but Goodwin often finds that they “lack the grace and charm of old-fashioned cosmos.” These hardy (and pretty) plants withstand wind and drought, and the seeds of this true annual can be collected and replanted to make sure your favorites return year after year.
These vibrant flowers are “indispensable here in North Carolina,” Goodwin says. It takes a little bit of care to deadhead them each year, but their pale yellow, orange, purple, white, and deep red blooms are worth it.
Sunset Huskmallow (Abelmoschus manihot)
This okra relative, also known as the sunset hibiscus, provides large, beautiful, pale yellow flowers instead of an edible pod. “All you have to do is just enjoy them,” Goodwin says.
Wild Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora)
Goodwin calls zinnias “a lazy gardener’s find” because they don’t need extra sun or water, they are not prone to disease, dead blooms do not need to be pruned, and they even like to grow in gravel. Her favorite is a true wild zinnia, which comes in small scarlet blooms and can be sown year to year.
Traditionally, dahlias are dug up in the fall and stored in a root cellar to be replanted in the spring. But, for Goodwin, Hillsborough is in the sweet spot for these colorful favorites to just be left alone to be perennials.
Rain Lily (Habranthus and Zephyranthes)
“Once you start growing them,” Goodwin says, “you’ll probably become an addict.” True to their name, these hardy flowers are most radiant after rain. But they don’t have to have it to thrive.
Lantana (Lantana Camara)
These sun-loving clusters of brightly colored blooms can be yellow, orange, white, red, pink, and purple. The flowers can grow as shrubs or as creeping groundcover, but once they start blooming, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get them to stop.
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
“Who doesn’t love the smell of a gardenia?” Goodwin says. These shrubs offer a challenge, and you will need to protect them in the winter to be successful. But their welcoming aroma and elegant white blooms come summertime will make you glad to take care of them in the cold.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
The Rose of Sharon blooms on new growth, making it reliable, and it looks fresh regardless of the temperature or condition of the soil. Best of all, it comes in towards late summer, “when you’re thinking it’s almost over,” Goodwin says, to show a sign of hope.