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It may be summer, the time when you want to simply sit back and enjoy your garden. But there are still things to think about, from planting to sowing seeds to tackling pests.

Plant Regal Lilies (Lilium regale). Most people think of regal lilies as the dwarfed, white-flowered lilies they buy in pots for Easter. Regal lilies planted in the ground or large containers are some of the easiest and most showy lilies you can grow. Each flower stalk can grow from 5 to 8 feet tall and have numerous flowers, each 6 inches across. Every stalk has many blooms. It takes up to three years for bulbs to generate stalks of this size. Bulbs are long-lived, and in favorable conditions, can generate several stalks in June and July. They appreciate compost and regular water. If gophers are an issue, plant each bulb in a large gopher basket. The flower colors come in cream, a satiny pink, and deep gold. All are extremely fragrant, especially in the evening. If you can sacrifice a stem, they make long-lasting cut flowers. Bulbs can be purchased in local nurseries in the fall or early in the spring or can be ordered online. Buy the largest bulb size possible for large plants the first year and plant them immediately; they deteriorate quickly out of the soil.

For those who like foliage, the native redtwig dogwood, Cornus sericea “Hedgerow’s Gold” is a gorgeous and tough summer foliage plant. This variety was found in a wild population near the Deschutes River in Eastern Oregon, and is a natural variation of the redtwig dogwood. With large variegated leaves glowing brilliant gold, this is a show-stopper of a plant that is too little known and used. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and produces flat-topped white flowers followed by white berries birds love in June and July. The plant is best with fairly regular water, and can grow in most soils, including heavy. A good place for them is the east side of a house, as the leaves can burn in the afternoon sun. In winter, the red stems are very showy. Pastel flowers like deep pink phlox, and grasses like Indian woodoat grass (Chasmanthium latifolium) and ferns combine beautifully with it. California Flora Nursery and The Urban Tree Farm, both in Fulton northwest of Santa Rosa, has it in 5 gallon pots.

Just when you were relaxing and enjoying the summer bounty from all your previous hard work in the vegetable garden, it’s time to start seeding some fall vegetables. Though fall and cooler weather seems far away, if you want to start vegetables from seed, July is the time to start seeds of longer season plants like chard, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Seedlings will be ready to plant approximately one month from seeding. These vegetables need time to grow and size up before the days shorten in the fall. If you are planting purchased starts, August is a good month to plant them. You will have to hand water the plants daily for about a week to get them established in the heat. If there is hot weather, additional hand watering will benefit plants. This is the last chance to direct seed root vegetables like carrots and beets. These vegetables also need time to size up before the shorting days of fall. If planted too late, their roots won’t size up, and growth tends to be just vegetative. Hand water the seeded beds daily until seedlings are up and growing.

Many people are experiencing a proliferation of non-native European paper wasp nests under their house eves, sheds or even hung in plants, making gardening a hazardous experience. These wasps are very different in behavior from yellow jackets but are often confused with them. Yellow jackets are ground-nesting, carnivorous, and very aggressive, consuming everything from hot dogs to insects like caterpillars. European paper wasps construct nests above ground in cavities like birdhouses, or in protected places like house eves. They are insect eaters, not as aggressive, and will not bother your picnic. Large numbers of them can do real damage to butterfly caterpillars. There are many sprays, ranging from very toxic to relatively nontoxic, to kill nests. However, an easy method to get rid of the nests is simply to Shop-Vac them early in the morning before they are active. You can buy (or borrow) additional flex hoses to extend tubing length. Duct tape a long pole to the end of the hose. After you are finished, duct tape the hose end to prevent wasps from escaping, but vacuuming generally kills them at once.

Kate Frey’s column appears every other week in Sonoma Home. Contact Kate at: katebfrey@gmail.com, freygardens.com, Twitter @katebfrey, Instagram @americangardenschool

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