Saturday, July 7, 2012

Proven Flowers for Hot North Carolina Summers

I am following the wisdom of Miz Elizabeth Lawrence author of A Southern Garden, which is still fresh and practical as it was 50 years ago when she wrote her famous book.

Drought is something we must face sooner or later here and what flowers to grow that will endure it is key if one is to have a four seasons garden. Miz Elizabeth praises daylilies as one of the early summer southern gardens mainstays. They begin to bloom in late May and continue to mid-July. With these she planted spurge, white phlox, veronica, butterfly weed , tritonia, and cosmos for a bright and cool scheme.

If Miz Elizabeth was alive today I think she'd be amazed at how many wonderful varieties of daylilies there are now. This one is a triple .

Phlox paniculata

Coneflowers, Chrysanthemum maximum, Alaska daisies, yarrow, tiger lilies, and the torch lily are other summer favorites. She considered garden phlox the foundation of perennial borders in June and July . Her favorite companion plant with phloxd was a red Monarda, or bee balm , combined with a light purple aster. As Monarda colonizes rather quickly, one must keep a close eye on it, but it is easy to pull up and thin out.

Salvia azurea

Salvia greggi

Salvia patens

Long blooming perennials in Mis Elizabeth's garden were autumn sage, S. Greggii, gential sage,

Salvia patens, Salvia azurea, and the mealycup sage, S. farinacea which blooms from early June to November. From June to August, Achillea nitida or yarrow kept good foliage and tolerated drought very well. The New England aster, A. novae-angliae began in early June and goes steadily on until very late Fall.

The cornflower aster, Stokesia laevis , is one she considers the most satisfactory perennials for the South. Heliopsis and gaillardias are two perennials she named that bloom very long under all conditions.

Miz Elizabeth used indispensible annuals that re-seeded themselves and came back year after year, such as the prickly poppies, cosmos, zinnias, marigold and cleome. She considered Gazanias as the sturdiest of South African daisies and members of the Amaryllis family become the center of interest in summer and Fall.

Argemone, prickly poppy

Gazania rigens

I will certainly put these on my list of must haves for my future Carolina piedmont garden.


  1. Carolyn,

    The phlox and the daylilies along with the lilies have certainly held up in this heat. I must rethink a couple of plantings for nexxt year. I love the hydrangeas but they do not like the heat.


    1. Hi Eileen,

      We can always count on the lilies can't we ? I've found that 'Limelight' hydrangea does stand up to the heat -mine was planted in full western sun all afternoon and did beautifully .

  2. Wow, that prickly poppy is cool. I don’t recall ever seeing one of those before. Looks like something I should have seen while living in Texas!

    1. It does look like a Texas native doesn't it Skeeter ? Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Carolyn, I hope you're liking piedmont NC more and more. The summers are very hot, but such nice seasons the remainder of the year. I know your little granddaughter is thrilled to have you around!

    1. Hello DJ,

      I am indeed enjoying the piedmont and being a native of the real South ( I love to tease the natives here in the mid-South ) I'm familiar with hot summers in my youth without any air conditioning whatsoever. My little Lea is just blossoming into the darn cutest, smartest girl in the world and loves her mawmaw to pieces. Parents can take a weekend trip and she is fine staying with me and never complaining.

  4. Very gorgeus flower and garden in this blog,I love them.Nice week froM an Italian bloggher!

  5. Hello from Geelong, Victoria Australia. I have found the daylilies really thrive in the heat that we have here. I am going to try and source the triple orange one on your site, it is just beautiful. I have quite a few but lets face it, more is better in the garden. Regards Jeni


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