By Tim Mouzakis

Hydrangeas today bloom earlier, don’t require pruning, and are re-blooming. They are a versatile plant that can solve many problems in the garden, especially when you want big color in a small space.

From providing a bright focal point among our plants, or holding its own in a container. Their new tighter habit and stronger stems aren’t like the big, unruly Hydrangea’s you might recall. Check out these available varieties to see how you can have hydrangea blooms all summer long.

Hydrangea Cityline Venice

Venice

Cityline™ Venice is an attention getter with giant fuchsia-colored blooms and fresh, attractive green foliage. Its place is front and center in your shrub border, patio garden, or your best container. Venice only reaches 1 to 3 feet in height and has a neat, tight habit so pruning is never required. It’s small enough for containers or any tight spot.

Like all the Citylines™, it was bred for stronger stems to hold its large, heavy flower head. Large beautiful blooms are great for dried or cut flowers. It requires a full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Moisture is a necessity for this plant.

Hydrangea Cityline Vienna

Vienna

The smallest of the Cityline™ series, Vienna is a lovely little plant with dark blue (or pink) flowers. The blooms emerge with an attractive cream-colored throat and remain large and showy even as they age. Flower color will vary depending on soil pH and aluminum availability. Since it is a compact plant, it does not need pruning. Cityline™ Vienna is a great choice for container gardens and foundation plantings.

Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight

Starlight

This vibrant lace cap blooms every summer! Starlight blooms on both new wood and old delivering seasons of flowers and lots of wow. A real workhorse, Let's Dance™ Starlight is the first re-blooming lace-cap hydrangea, and has exceptionally rich, vibrant flower color. It's an elegant addition to any garden.

Hydrangea Let's Dance Rhythmic Blue

Rhythmic Blue

The flowers of this latest Let's Dance™ re-blooming hydrangea are truly amazing. The florets have a distinctive geometric shape, and are closely packed into full, richly colored mop head flowers. A real workhorse, it flowers in early summer, and then re-blooms in later summer. The reliable blooms are held up on sturdy stems; a tidy habit and good wilt-resistance add to its appeal. The real show, however, is its easy shift from pink to rich amethyst-blue flowers by adjusting the soil pH. It has the richest, most vibrant blue seen on a hydrangea!

Hydrangea Little Quick Fire

Little Quick Fire

Little Quick Fire is an early blooming, flowering about a month before other hydrangeas. This paniculata has white flowers which transform to pink-red as summer progresses. This dwarf plant fits easily into any landscape, including container gardens. Add it to your existing hydrangea garden to extend the hydrangea season.


Crape Myrtles deliver showy summer flowers, attractive bark, and in many cases brilliant fall color, making them a year-round garden performer.

A Sioux Crape Myrtle with a honey beeSioux Crape Myrtle

This premier summer-flowering tree tolerates heat, humidity, drought, and does well in most soils as long as they are well drained. All crape myrtles bloom on new wood and should be pruned in winter or early spring. Crinkled, paper-like flowers in white or shades of pink, red, or purple are carried in dense clusters.

Tuscarora Crape Myrtle in bloom

Tuscarora

Deciduous large shrub or small tree with profuse coral-pink flowers. Exquisite orange-red foliage color in the fall. Smooth, mottled, light cinnamon brown bark adds year-round interest. Use for accent or background, or the focal point of your front garden.

Catawba Crape Myrtle in bloom

Catawba

Displays large, long lasting clusters of dark purple flowers. Handsome foliage has bronze cast in spring, bright green in summer, orange-red fall color. Mildew resistant.

Pink Velour Crape Myrtle in bloom

Pink Velour

Deep wine red leaves emerge in spring and age to dark purplish green, providing a striking contrast to vibrant pink summer flowers. Compact, multi-stemmed form is ideal for use as an accent shrub or small tree, in flowering borders or containers. Highly resistant to powdery mildew. Deciduous.

Sioux Crape Myrtle in bloom

Sioux

With cold hardy Sioux Crape Myrtles your landscape will never have to be without color, especially with their dark pink flowers which enter a continuous blooming cycle that lasts into the fall. Sioux Crape Myrtles have very dark green leaves that create a radiant show of contrasting colors. Then in the fall the leaves turn unique shades of purple and red. The older brown bark peels away to reveal bright beige bark underneath. The older and younger barks intertwine on the trunk together to create a marbled look. Sioux Crape Myrtles are one of the toughest varieties available. Along with the ability to survive freezing temperatures they are also drought and heat tolerant. They also have a high level of resistance against pests and diseases. Not even poor soil can stop the Sioux Crape Myrtle from flourishing with tons of color and over 100 days of blooms.

Dynamite Crape Myrtle in bloom

Dynamite

Attractive ornamental shrub or small tree with smooth, peeling bark. Showy, ruffled, fiery red flowers followed by vibrant orange-red fall foliage. Excellent specimen or plant in groups for an explosion of color in the landscape and year-round interest. Deciduous.

Crape Myrtle Pruning Tips

Encourage the natural form of the Crape Myrtle. Aggressive pruning only encourages the growth of spindly, whip-like branches that are too weak to hold their bloom. So instead, use hand pruners and loppers, and shorten the topmost branches by 2-3 feet in late winter, always cutting back to a side branch or bud, and you can enjoy this beauty for years to come.


If you are looking to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, the following perennials are a perfect additions. With a little deadheading of spent blooms, these will continue to flower throughout the summer.

June 20-26 is National Pollinator Week, and what a better way to celebrate than adding flowers that welcome our pollinator friends to your garden. Whether it’s Phlox or Coreopsis, there is pollinator-friendly plant that’s perfect for your style and taste. Here are a few of our favorites.

'Funfare Orange' Cape Fuchsia'Funfare Orange' Cape Fuchsia

Cape Fuchsia

  • Tubular Flowers are nectar sources for Hummingbirds & bees
  • Flowers available in orange, coral, red & yellow
  • Plant in full sun or a little shade in late afternoon
Tall Phlox'Flame Coral' Tall Phlox

Tall Phlox

  • Clusters of flowers in pink, coral, blue and purple
  • Loved by butterflies, bees and Hummingbirds
  • Nice for fresh Bouquets too
  • Plant in full sun or a little shade in the afternoon
Coreopsis'Sienna Sunset' Coreopsis

Coreopsis

  • Daisy shaped flowers in array of colors from solid pink to burgundy and white, lemon yellow, golden yellow and apricot
  • Flowers loved by bees and butterflies
  • Leave last of the flowers heads on for seeds for fall feed for the birds.
  • Birds will seek out the seedheads
  • Coreopsis Common name is Tickseed.
Poker Plant'Lemon Popsicle' Poker Plant

Poker Plant

  • Spikes of flowers in Shades of yellow, peach and red
  • Flowers loved by Hummingbirds
  • Plant in full sun
  • Drought tolerant after planted 1 year
  • Grassy-like foliage is a nice garden texture even when flowers are not in bloom
Crocosmia'Lucifer' Crocosmia

Crocosmia

  • Flowers are Hummingbird Magnets
  • Plant Crocosmia in many parts of your garden so the Hummers don't get too territorial!
  • Tubular shaped flowers in deep orange, red or gold
  • Leave seedheads on for Fall Interest
  • Plant in full sun

plate of Hoppin' Poppers

Ingredients:

  • 12oz Cream Cheese
  • 6oz Blue Cheese
  • 4oz Real Bacon - crumbled
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • around 20 Peppers (either Jalapeno or bite-sized sweet peppers)

Directions:

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl

If you are using a hot pepper such as a jalapeno, we recommend wearing latex or nitrile gloves to keep away from "the heat".

The peppers can be prepared one of two ways: First, if you don't have a pepper stand, you can slice the peppers lengthwise leaving the ends intact (like a canoe) so the filling doesn't run out. Or, if you do have a pepper stand, cut the top of the pepper off. Then, using either a pepper corer or a paring knife, remove pepper ribs and seeds.

Next, using a small spoon, drop the filling into the peppers. Don't over-fill the pepper as the filling will bubble and possibly overflow while cooking. Place peppers (or pepper stand) on hot grill and cook covered until cheese is bubbling and the outside of the peppers are just turning brown.

(Speaking from experience), Let it cool down a bit. Enjoy!

 


With a warm summer predicted, every gardener starts to think about watering and water consumption. Depending on your watering habits and your choice of plants, your actual water usage can vary greatly. Some great water wise options come from the Perennial family.

June is Perennials Gardening Month

Perennials are drought tolerant after at least 1 year of being planted in the ground. For perennials planted now, make sure they get ample irrigation this summer and next, and add compost when planting to ensure good drainage.

Here are a few of our favorite water-wise perennials:

blooming lavender

Lavender

Lavender fills the early-summer garden with sensory delights: beautiful purple-tone blooms atop foliage that oozes fragrance on a sunny afternoon. Every part of the plant is infused with aromatic oil, making this a choice herb to place along pathways or near outdoor seating areas so you can savor the fragrance. The darker the flower, the more intense the aroma -- and the flavor in cooking. Drought, heat, and wind-tolerant, lavender doesn't like poor drainage, waterlogged soil, or high humidity. After flowering, trim back plants to induce bushiness and subsequent bloom. Avoid cutting plants back to the ground. Dried blooms retain fragrance for a long time; crush dried flowers to release aromatic oils anew.


  • Loves the sun
  • Butterflies & hummingbirds drink the nectar
  • English lavender is great for culinary uses
  • Use in fresh or dried flower bouquets
  • Deer resistant!
close-up photo of Hens and Chicks

Hens & Chicks

From dark burgundy, to green with burgundy tips, to grey-blue, Hens & Chicks come in many colors. They are great for stone walls and crevices because they only require a small amount of soil volume. You’ll have many chicks which can be propagated by removing these offsets and potting them. Individual Sempervivum grows a star-shape flower, but there are cobweb varieties also. Allow them to dry slightly between waterings, as overwatering can cause rotting. Water very little during winter dormancy.


  • Perfect for small hot and dry areas in your garden
  • Assortment of shapes and colors and sizes
  • Great for containers and wall art too!


Groundcover Sedums

Tall Sedum & Groundcover Sedum

Sedum is a perennial with thick, succulent leaves, fleshy stems, and clusters of star-shaped flowers. There are many types of sedums, such as low–growing varieties for ground covers and tall varieties for back borders. There are few plants more forgiving of sun and bad soil than sedum plants. When growing sedum, keep in mind that sedum plants need very little attention or care. They will thrive in conditions that many other plants thrive in, but will do just as well in less hospitable areas. They are ideal for that part of your yard that gets too much sun or too little water to grow anything else. A common name for sedum is stonecrop, due to the fact that many gardeners joke that only stones need less care!

Tall Sedum

  • Assortment of foliage and late season flower colors
  • Flowers are loved by butterflies and bees
  • Leave faded flowers on for fall interest
  • Nice for fresh bouquets

Groundcover Sedums

  • Perfect for filler plants for hot and dry areas in your garden
  • Assortment of shapes and colors and sizes
  • Great for containers too
beautiful red Yarrow blooms

Yarrow

While often sold as a flowering perennial, yarrow plant is actually an herb. Whether you decide to grow yarrow in your flower beds or in your herb garden, it’s still a lovely addition to your yard. Yarrow care is so easy that the plant is virtually care-free. Yarrow has many uses as an herb. It is commonly used as a medicinal herb that can treat the bleeding of minor wounds, swollen or cramping muscles, reducing fever, or to help with relaxation. On the non-medicinal side, yarrow herb is an astringent and makes a good facial wash or shampoo. Whether you grow yarrow as a decorative plant or an herb, you can be sure that it will add beauty and interest to your garden.


  • Sturdy plants for sunny gardens
  • Assortment of flower colors, Red, Violet, Yellow & Terra Cotta
  • Deer resistant!

Butterflies love the flowers, birds love the seeds, and we love the generous long lasting bouquets.

Pink Echinacea for Perennial Gardening Month

It's hard to imagine a sunny perennial border without Echinacea! It is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family - Asteraceae. It is also known as the American coneflower, and it’s easy to grow in almost any sunny location.

Echinacea was commonly used for its medicinal properties by Native Americans for hundreds of years before the arrival of European explorers. It is endemic to eastern and central North America and thrives in moist to dry prairies and open woodlands.

 

  • Produces big, bright flowers from late June until frost
  • They love the heat and sunshine of summer
  • Great pollinators -- Birds and Butterflies love Echinacea
  • Blooms work well both cut and/or dried
  • Equally at home in formal borders or cottage gardens
  • Large assortment of flower color and flower shapes

Here are a few of our favorites, available now at Al's!

Pow Wow White Echinacea bloomsPow Wow® White

Pow Wow® White

Big, pure white flowers with yellow-gold centers brighten the garden from early summer to fall. Forms a neat, compact mound with sturdy upright stems that need no deadheading. Perfect for beds, mixed borders and containers. Drought tolerant once established.

Pow Wow Wild Berry bloomPow Wow® Wild Berry

Pow Wow® Wild Berry

Wild Berry is enjoyed for its long season of bloom, compact habit and bright rose-pink, non-fading flowers. This unique Echinacea produces showy, blooms that last throughout the summer, even without deadheading. Pow Wow® Wild Berry puts out more flowers than any other Coneflower variety.

Double Scoop Bubble Gum Echinacea bloomsDouble Scoop™ Bubble Gum

Double Scoop™ Bubble Gum

These echinaceas are absolutely unbeatable for flower power! They are well branched, which means more flowers all season. They do not need to be deadheaded to set new buds, so the flowers just keep coming! They have a compact habit, so they are perfect in containers. What more could you want?

Double Scoop Cranberry Echinacea bloomDouble Scoop™ Cranberry

Double Scoop™ Cranberry

Double flower forms in a rich cranberry red color. This variety has very strong stems.