First Harvest and Shade Plants

Welcome to Plant Exchange Blog on the Northern Plains. While hot and dry summer days challenge farmers and gardeners, we’re ready to celebrate a few garden first harvests. We’ll also consider a few ornamental shade plants that grow well here. 

Sunflowers are among personal favorites that grow tended and wild and free in this region. This dwarf container ‘Sunray Yellow’ hybrid from Burpee Seed Company is the first to bloom among four different kinds of sunflowers in pots.  The ‘Sunray Yellow’ is about 18 inches tall. It tolerates crowding, and leaves appear healthy after several days of hot winds. See more about sunflowers in a later post.

After lots of weeding and watering a vegetable garden, the first reward harvest is so tasty. First carrots and green beans from earlier in July continue to yield. The medium-length carrots are planted in a raised bed with a row cover to protect from rabbits and other wildlife. Garden green and wax beans, though tender and tasty, have had a second wave of bean beetles that left lacy leaves and holes in the beans. Insecticidal soap defense has become Sevin spray!

First cherry tomatoes grown in containers are ripe today!  Tomatoes in the garden are still green. From summer squash and zucchini in the garden, the three plants each have a single vegetable: even more cherished.

Shade plants are such a welcome ornamental in hot summer. Their leaves, as well as flowers, add interest to the flowerbed. Variegated foliage stands out most of the season in a shade garden. The lines and shapes and white against green shine in lower light. In this region, Pulmonaria and Brunnera are perennials with variegated varieties that grow well in this region and are not often sampled by deer and other wildlife. Speckles of white in this Pulmonaria appear as bits of sunlight at the edge of the woods.

Brunnera leaves are also showy in the lower light. The July/August American Gardener magazine features variegated shade plants such as these and ferns to add texture and provide an addition to summer flowering plants.

In this shade garden, the Japanese maple tree and lime-leafed bleeding hearts, and Brunnera add light. Palmate Lenten Rose leaves also add texture. Between flower bursts from other plants, the white and green variegated leaves add new interest in the garden. 

See first flower and first vegetables in our mid season garden.

Comments about shade favorites that grow well are welcome. See you next week!

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