Large trees are often purposely omitted from landscape plans because they are not desired around many homes. The lack of natural shade produces many areas in the garden where plants are exposed to full sun all day long. This condition is quite satisfactory, provided the right selection of plants is made and if correct soil conditions are available. It is quite often found that there are places in the garden where even the ordinary sun-loving plants either suffer or burn up. The south side of the house is often one of the offending areas, especially in gardens where no building, trees or other plants offer some protection. Plants grown in this position also suffer more because of the reflected heat from the wall of a building. If shrubs or plants are grown against the wall and the sun’s rays are reflected from the wall, directly onto the plants, they are often harmed.
Nature has equipped all plants with the ability to turn naturally and move their leaves and growth to act as a sun shade to prevent sunburn or sunscald. Their leaves are also built in such a manner as to assist in soil-moisture retention. But, the reflected heat from a wall catches them on the unprotected side of the plant. White houses or walls reflect more heat than any others. The soil around the house is generally useless hardpan taken from the basement, refilled after the cement wall has dried. The heat of the house and the owner’s desire to keep the basement dry tends to produce a condition in the soil around the house that is very unsuitable for many plants. Even when the soil around the house is properly prepared with plenty of peat moss, and artificial watering is resorted to, it is still found that many plants suffer considerably.
In many gardens there are areas composed of very sandy soil that is several feet deep. These spots dry out badly during summer and, if watered artificially, it seems impossible to keep it moist, due to too effective drainage. Peat moss, mixed into the sand, will help hold some moisture. When soil is heavy, clayey or where hardpan is near the surface, a slightly different problem presents itself. It can be controlled by the use of sand and peat moss, but it takes time to get this kind of soil into good condition. During the first years, these areas become hot spots in summer and again the correct choice of plants is important. Another place where hot spots often develop is at a summer home. Whether located on beach, lake, stream or in the mountains, the lack of water supply often is a problem. Generally it is desired to grow a few flowers until a planned garden is made later. By the use of some of the plants listed below, a very creditable garden may be assured, provided the seeds are planted before the hot, dry weather starts, to enable the plants’ roots to penetrate deeply into the ground.
This list describes only some of the most easily-grown sorts which are especially good for hot spots.
Amaranthus Caudatus is generally known by its common names, “love-lies-bleeding” or “tassel” flower. It thrives in a hot, dry spot and is especially attractive with its brilliant crimson-scarlet, rope-like flowers when grown on the south side of a building. This plant is closely related to the pig-weed and tumble-weed and has an ability to grow well in hot spots but with a much more attractive display.
California Poppy – The old yellow Eschscholtzia is rightly classed among those to be avoided, but since the introduction of so many lovely new types, shades and colors, this plant is now receiving much praise. Among the newer introductions are varieties with fully doubled flowers and some charming dwarf-growing sorts. All seed merchants and racks have the Ramona hybrid strain, which includes many lovely colors as cerise, pink, cream, brown and bi-colors, with flowers whose petals are beautifully frilled, fluted and are also waved.
Bells of Ireland, technically known as Molucella Laevis, is one of those plants which has been known to gardeners for many years but which has suddenly received a spurt of popularity influenced by a new fashion in flower arrangements. The attraction to this strange flower is not the plant or the bloom itself, which is inconspicuous, but the greatly enlarged and beautifully veined, light green calyx. The calyx of a flower, as you know, is the part which forms an envelope about the base of the bloom. In roses, for instance, the calyx is made up of separate sepals which form an attractive star-like base for the flower. But in the case of Bells of Ireland, the calyx is all one piece in a typical bell form, with intricate veins, and the general aspect of a regular flower except for that unusual green color. These pretty bells are formed all the way along a tall, gracefully curving stem, so that the cut stem has much the same form as snapdragons, for instance, and works well into floral arrangements. The green color makes for perfect combinations with otherwise difficult subjects, and many a prize has been won in exhibitions because of a tall bouquet. Small leaves are carried sparsely along the stem, and these are removed to allow the green bells full prominence without confusion. The plants grow about two feet tall and since the stems branch from the base of the plant the spikes for arrangements are the full height of the plant.
Portulaca – This is a trailing plant that will fill a low bed or border with intensely brilliant color all summer. It loves all the sun it can get and has fleshy stems that are able to store the water well. One peculiarity of this plant is that it is one of the few flowers that produce blooms of more than one color on each plant. Seed of either single or double sun-roses is available. Once established in a suitable location, it will self-seed from year to year without much care.
Poppies – In the annual poppies, there are many lovely sorts that will give fine results. Flowers of the small Shirley poppies are as greatly favored as the huge peony-like heads of the double French. Among the other popular sorts are sweet briar, American Legion, Flanders and many others. Besides being able to thrive in any hot, dry soil, the annual poppies will succeed where soil is very poor and non-fertile. When flowers are picked in bud, they last a long time in water.
Convolvulus Minor – Because the moon-vine is such a weed, there is no reason why this charming member of the family should be neglected. It should be grown in large beds or groups, where it can be massed. It grows just about a foot high. Plants are covered with blooms all summer long. The variety “blue glories” has tri-color flowers of blue, yellow and white throat. It will self-seed if desire, but never becomes a nuisance. It does best in an open bed in either sandy or poor clay soils. It is especially useful in waterfront gardens.
Yellow Tulip Poppy – Yellow Tulip Poppy, or Hunnemannia, is a long, deep-rooted plant that thrives in all the sun it can get and in dry, sandy soil. Its foliage is a handsome gray-green, and the stems are long and strong. The flowers are a brilliant yellow and are shaped much like a wide open tulip flower. The new variety, sunlight, won an A.A.S. Award. It is double yellow but strangely-developed in that the doubling of the petals is on the outside and not in the center, like most flowers.
Mexican Zinnias – The Mexican Zinnia is often listed as Zinnia Haageana. Unlike the other zinnias which demand rich soils and plenty of water, this lovely variety will give fine results in a hot, dry spot. The plant is bushier than other zinnias and is literally covered with flowers of all the bright sunshine colors and hues imaginable. Individual flowers are about the size of a half dollar, but are borne in profusion, and many on each stem, all season. It is generally hard to find two plants with like flowers in any one pack of seed, so wide is the range of color and variety. Persian carpet zinnia is also an excellent variety for hot spots.
Rose Campion or Lychnis Coronaria – This is really a perennial, but as it flowers from seed the first season it may be included in this list. It has gray, wooly foliage that grows in rosettes near the ground. The branching stems bear many champion flowers in bright magenta-red. It grows so well and easily that many call it a weed.
Golden Marguerite or Anthemis – The golden Marguerita is another very useful perennial that may also be classed as an annual for our purpose. Gray foliage and brilliant golden, daisy-like flowers make it useful for hot, sandy soils, especially near the salt water.
Cornflower – The cornflower does best started from seed planted outdoors in very early spring. The new and improved double sorts and improved colors like “red boy,” make this good-natured plant most useful for any place in the full sun where soil is poor. It gives a marvelous display if wood ashes are mixed into the soil before the seed is planted.
Since the plants listed here are able to give a good account of themselves under abnormal and adverse conditions, it should be considered that only ordinary garden care and attention is necessary.
Culture is simple. Plant the seeds in May outdoors about one quarter inch deep in the open when the soil has been enriched thoroughly, and is wet and warm. The young seedlings are readily moved if you want to readjust the location of the plants in the garden after they have come up. Thin the seedlings to stand about twelve inches apart.
When annual flowers are sown outdoors, the seed is often planted too thickly. Care should be taken to thin them out to a sufficient distance apart so they will not become crowded and choke each other.
Thinning should be done while the plants are quite tiny, so those that are allowed to remain have plenty of room to grow into large plants.
The Original Master Gardener