Little Joys of Summer

Keep That New Victory Garden Looking Good With These Tips

We asked plant expert Wesley Younie for advice on keeping our gardens so fresh and so clean throughout the summer.

By Eden Dawn August 1, 2020 Published in the August 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

As quarantine swung into high gear, so, too, did yard time. Victory gardens sprung up all over the city, lawns were banished and replaced with vegetable beds, nurseries became overloaded, and seed companies hit historic profit boons.

Summer growing is easy. To prep for when the hot weather begins its long goodbye, we asked plant expert Wesley Younie—an Oregon native who’s been designing everything from teeny home parking strips to winery fantasies for 15 years (check out for info on his garden consults and full overhauls)—the million-dollar question. What do we do now?

Tree Time

Fall is a great time to get trees in the ground. They need a lot of water when first planted to establish their root system, so Younie says let the rain work for you. Lagerstroemia crape myrtle is a win-win-win with summer flowers in a range of colors, beautiful leaves that turn in the fall, and even a stately bark for winter display. Speaking of, you can also give Stewartia pseudocamellia a focal spot in the garden with its bright orange fall leaves that give way to a flaky, exfoliating bark.

How to Have Fall Blooms

A successful garden has color coming in nonstop waves throughout the season. Younie suggests planting Persicaria amplexicaulis Firetail, with deep red blooms from July through September, or the Tricyrtis Taipei Silk toad lily, a shade-loving lily that somehow looks like a stunning orchid. Nature!

What to Plant Now for Spring Flowers

Plan ahead for delightful spring bouquets by getting those bulbs in the ground before it freezes. Try a twist on the typical daffodil with the narcissus Thalia daffodil with sweet-smelling white blooms. One delightful option, according to Younie, is the Allium schubertii (commonly known as an ornamental onion) with huge, space-age looking spiky blooms.

Get Grassy

Lawns are out, but dramatic grasses are in. The Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea Skyracer might be a mouthful, but seven-foot-tall purple blades are worth the pronunciation effort. Younie advises pairing it next to some Miscanthus sinesis Adagio, a short grass with color and fluffy plumes that stretch into winter.

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