tomatoe-on-vineOWENSBORO, Ky. (7/30/14) — Everyone tries to have their first ripe tomato by July 4 and they will go to any lengths to do it.

Beating thou neighbor to have the first ripe tomato seems to be the sign of a good gardener. It does take a lot of thought and work to accomplish this feat, the holy grail of gardening. But not getting the first tomato in the neighborhood doesn’t mean the reward is any less.

Tomatoes are a summer crop and one that should be enjoyed while they are growing. Now is the time to harvest other vegetable crops such as squash, green beans, corn, cucumbers and okra. Watermelons and cantaloupes should be ripe soon. Being able to harvest all this is the sign of a good gardener.

Fresh vegetables are what summer is about, but so are the flowers. Growing a combination of flowers is also the sign of a good gardener. There are a lot of combinations to be seen at the Western KY Botanical Garden.

The English Cottage Garden has new varieties as well as some old favorites as companions. An old favorite is the oak leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia that makes up a mixed border between the Joann Weller Memorial Garden and the English Cottage Garden. These hydrangeas have leaves with the same shape as the oak tree. The leaves are green in the summer, changing to shades of red, orangish brown and purple in the fall. The shrub is rather coarse, but handsome by virtue of exfoliating bark. The flowers are white changing to purplish pink and finally brown 4” to 12” long panicles. Oak leaf hydrangeas can reach 4’ to 8’ in height and width. This particular variety is ‘Pee Wee’, which should not get that large. .

Barbara Cecil Russ, Horiculturist for Western Ky. Botanical Garden

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