Many of my Landscape Architecture courses in college stressed that every good design should have a focal point. A focal point in a landscape setting is something you are drawn to—a primary area of interest, something that brings focus to itself.
Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community’s 43 acres in northwest Raleigh, N.C.—connected by 2.5 miles of walkways—present many opportunities for residents to walk ahead, see what is just around the corner, and be surprised by a burst of color.
Each month, Floral Focal Points will point out highlights around Springmoor’s colorful campus, and discuss the preparation and maintenance that help bring out the best in Springmoor’s blooms. As Springmoor’s landscape manager, I get asked a lot of questions and receive a lot of compliments from residents and visitors alike, so I hope this blog helps answer any questions you may have about plants that best withstand and thrive in North Carolina’s hot, July weather.
By July, azaleas and dogwoods have lost their color, which is why Springmoor placed the following colorful, hearty trees and shrubs around our campus to shine through summer:
Golden rain trees (Koelreuteria paniculata) bloom at this time, filling in the gap left by the Spring flowering trees. Requiring very little care, the yellow flowers turn to orange, lantern-like seed pods in the Fall.
Hydrangeas peak in July, and here at Springmoor, we have four varieties, and one variation. Soil, pH and the amount of sunlight determines if a hydrangea becomes pink or blue; Acidic soil causes blooms to be blue, while alkaline soils cause hydrangeas to be pink, and mixed soils or those that have a neutral pH bring out unique shades of pink and blue.
Nikko Blue Hydrangea
(Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’
Nikko Pink Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Pink’) (left)
Nikko Blue Hydrangea with variegated leafs Oak-leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
Lace-cap hydrangeas give a garden an old-fashioned look, and have varying blue and white, and large and small, petals. My personal favorite is the Oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia
) because they provide year-round interest; they bloom in late Spring, and the foliage turns orange/purple in the Fall—plus the bark on mature specimens is bright.
All hydrangeas like fairly moist soils, and tolerate shade.
Canna lilies are in full bloom, and Canna Australia stands out with its orange flowers, and deep purple foliage.
The Purple Smoke Tree
(Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’
) is also blooming in July. Thousands of soft pink flowers give this tree the illusion of smoke billowing out from it. This tree is very easy to maintain, and we only prune an occasional dead branch.
Gardenias placed along Springmoor’s walkways and doorways provide residents and visitors with aromatherapy as they pass. Gardenias like filtered shade locations, and moderately moist soils. Once in awhile we see nuisance, white flies on them, but by keeping gardenias healthy, we are able to combat this pet. A lot of pruning is not essential, and is only performed just after the bloom has faded, or when branches spill onto the walkways.
We have five varieties of gardenias on our campus:
Cape Jasmine Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) (left)
Frostproof Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Frostproof’)
Chuck Hayes Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’)
Kleim’s Hardy Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’)
(Gardenia jasminoides radicans
) which is a low-growing, carpet-style gardenia.
Last but not least, Springmoor’s roses really shine in July. Pictured is one of the many varieties we have on campus: Mr. Lincoln (Rosa ‘Mr. Lincoln’)
roses were first bred in 1964, and won the All America, American Rose award in 1965. This very fragrant, hybrid tea rose requires a lot of maintenance but is well worth it. In December to January, all the canes are pruned back, and five to seven of the healthiest canes are kept each year. We use a granular fertilizer combined with a systemic insecticide on our Mr. Lincolns beginning Valentines Day, and every six weeks up until August. From first bloom, until last bloom, the roses are dead-headed to ensure the flowers bloom all season long. We also spray every two weeks for fungal diseases, and insects. With this in mind, we have just a few patches of hybrid tea roses,
The rest of the roses are climbing, hedge, and the maintenance-free, Knock-Out Roses (Rosa redrazz).
Hope you enjoyed this written July tour of our campus, and next month I’ll report on more of Springmoor’s Floral Focal Points.
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