When heat, humidity and dry days take a toll on your flowers in July and August, given your yard a fresh look with pots of tropical hibiscus and mandevilla.
Although they are not cold hardy in much of the country, these plants add tropical touches to any summer decor. Costa Farms, a major hibiscus and mandevilla grower, features these stunning, sun-loving bloomers at garden centers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart nationwide, $19.99-$35.99, depending on size and plant.
Sometimes, the right product is what your yard needs. It can be a helpful tool or something pretty to look at, but the end result is the same: It makes your home a better place to be.
Here are several that fit that goal:
WONDERFUL WATERER: Now Mother Nature helps you refill a hanging waterer for little songbirds, thanks to the colander-style, pour-through lid that Perky-Pet features on its latest accessory.
Made of plastic in a frosted-blue color that resembles the appearance of pond water, the 64-ounce waterer is shaped like a garden lantern. A top loop-style hanger makes it easy to place it on a hook suspended from a tree branch where shade will keep the water cool. A bottom tray is shallow enough to attract small birds that like to sit and sip.
The water reservoir unscrews from the base, making everything easy to clean. Perky-Pet suggests that you change the water every few days to assure freshness, and to clean the waterer every couple of weeks with a mild soap and water solution, then rinse thoroughly. About $15. Available at wildlife stores and home/garden stores nationwide online at Perky-Pet at www.birdfeeders.com.
BEST BIRD FEEDERS. Tube-type feeders allow birds to get right to business — dining on succulent seeds you provide for them. Cole’s wild bird seed company offers three tube feeders designed for specific birds.
The clear poly tube feeder, aka Terrific Tube, is best for all-purpose seeds like pure sunflower (gets you a great variety of birds), sunflower seed mixes and suet kibbles; it features a natural grip perch that resembles the feel of a real branch so birds think they are out in the wild; $49.99.
The thistle seed feeder, aka Nifty Niger Feeder, comes with teeny-tiny holes that attract finches — think bright yellow goldfinches in summer — and pine siskins; $39.99.
The mesh feeder, aka Mighty Mesh, is designed specifically for birds that like to cling to something while they eat — chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, warblers, finches and bluebirds. Fill it with seed blends, raw peanuts or sunflower-based blends; $39.99.
All three are easy to clean — push a button and the bottom pops off for each access. If you’re looking for a brush to clean your feeders, consider using a dryer lint brush, which comes with stiffer bristles and a handle longer than most brushes made specifically for feeders.
Wash feeders in a mild solution of bleach and water and rinse thoroughly; an old toothbrush can be a handy detailing tool when cleaning around feeding ports and other small areas on feeders.
Cole’s products are available at many independent garden retailers, hardware stores as well as some Whole Foods locations; find a location near you or shop online at: http://coleswildbird.com/locations.
NEW LAVENDER. Phenomenal aptly describes this lavender with silver foliage that doesn’t die back at the base. Cold hardy to Zone 5, the lavender also tolerates heat and humidity without stress.
Best of all, it’s a deer-proof addition to a garden that’s bothered by these four-hoofed, chomping critters.
Phenomenal’s long-stemmed flowers and silvery foliage are classically fragrant, and can be used as fresh-cut flowers indoors. Oils from the plant can be used for baking, cocktail recipes, sachets, lip balms and decorative crafts.
The plant likes full sun and regular garden soil, and grows to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with vibrant purple flowers covering it. Use it as a stand-alone specimen, border plant or eye-catching, low-growing hedge. It’s available from many garden centers and online sites such as www.GreatGardenPlants.com and www.WhiteFlowerFarm.com.
Learn more about the lavender on Facebook@www.facebook.com/lavenderphenomenal.