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North Texas Lawn & Garden: End of Summer

State Fair of Texas greenhouse manager, Drew Demler
State Fair of Texas greenhouse manager, Drew Demler

The State Fair of Texas’ Greenhouse Manager Drew Demler offers tips for your end-of-summer garden.

Visit Drew at the Errol McKoy Greenhouse-on-the-Midway when on your trip to the State Fair, September 25 – October 18.

The mercury steadily rises and the sun scorches everything in its path — our abundant spring rainfall is now a distant memory. End of summer in North Texas doesn’t produce perfect gardening conditions, but believe it or not, late summer is a great time for one thing garden-related: sorting out the winners and the losers of the gardening world. For me, if it is gonna make it in Texas, it had better be able to handle some serious heat. Now is the best time to find out which plants can take the sizzle.

I encourage gardeners to get out there and take a look at what is doing well right now, while we’re really feeling the burn. Go to parks and botanical gardens, look around your neighborhood, heck, even check out your own yard. Try and identify the plants that are blooming and growing well. If it’s looking good now, you know you have yourself a winner.

Here are a few plants that grabbed my attention this summer:

Rose of Sharon: Actually a type of hardy hibiscus, not a true rose. These heat lovers come in a number of different colors and bloom all summer. Older specimens can easily grow 10 – 12 feet tall, but can be kept smaller with pruning. In my opinion, the Rose of Sharon is one of the most underutilized plants in our area.

Black Diamond Crepe Myrtle: Relatively new variety of the crepe myrtle tree that is just awesome. Black Diamonds sport dark, almost black, foliage and feature a variety of different flower colors. There are several planted in Fair Park, and they flourished amazingly the last several years.

Giant Crimson Parasol Mandevilla : We grow these in our jumbo containers and they beautifully withstood the heat of recent summers. The flowers get quite large and the vines are fast growers. Planting one in a container may be your best bet so that it can be pulled inside during the winter, because these mandevillas are not cold hardy. They do bloom all spring and summer.

Now, let me share with you a gardening magic trick that will make your summer garden sooooo much better……. Mulch! Mulch all bare soil in your flower beds, mulch around your young trees, and by all means, mulch in your veggie gardens, too. Add at least a two inch layer of mulch on top of the ground for best effect. I really like the brown hardwood mulch, but almost any mulch will do. Mulching helps keep the moisture in your soil and keeps the temps down around the roots of your plants. It also increases the biological activity in your soil (trust me that’s a good thing) and stimulates earth worms. Mulch even helps get rid of weeds!

Well, it’s getting to be that time again here at the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway. We are busy, busy getting our plants prepped and ready to make the state fair beautiful again. I can almost smell the corn dogs cooking now! Y’all stop by and say hello if you get a chance. Look forward to seeing you real soon.

Drew Demler
Manager Errol Mccoy Greenhouse on the Midway

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