zinnia good for growing in half-barrels is the strain called 'Dasher.' An endless number of gardeners in Washington have small places, often with only small patches of full sunlight, and they understandably like to grow a few colorful flowers in the little sun they have. Hence the popularity of these oak tubs that once held whiskey.
'Dasher' is not one of those wee piddly zinnias but looks like a real zinnia, only slightly reduced in scale. The plants grow 24 inches high with me and the flowers are perhaps 3 inches in diameter in a good range of orange, rose, straw-color, white and scarlet. I counted 40 good open flowers in one tub, and it seems to me the individual flowers last almost indefinitely.
Also the stems are long enough for cutting and the plants branch well enough that a good succession of flowers comes along. The packet sent to me by Park's for testing was called 'Dasher, Mixed' and I was pleased at the color balance.
We should be careful with young plants in pots. I keep a few four-inch and six-inch pots on the rim of a pool and dunk them every day or so, keeping a sharp eye for any signs of wilting. Some vigorous roses from cuttings in the pots have grown so much that I set them in the open ground last week. The surprising thing was that while the earth at the top and bottom of the pot was nicely moist, the dirt in the middle was dry as a bone.
It is well to soak the pots carefully from time to time, not counting on a daily dunking.
Again this year the Sturt peas from Australia have failed as they do every year. This desert flower has waxy vermilion black-blotched flowers like a wisteria, only growing on a gray-leaved herb. I wonder if anybody grows it successfully in the open garden here. I now suspect the only way to handle it is in the summer greenhouse. It needs to be protected from rain, but requires full sun. With me it collapses, after a brave enthusiastic burst of growth as a young plant, when muggy weather comes in July. One year it flourished and grew vigorously into the fall, but did not bloom.
This is last call for bush beans. Plant them now and you will get a nice crop, but any later plantings may well fail.
This year I pinched the tips out of three or four dahlias and kept on in a rather cruel way, to see if I could keep them stocky enough to stand up without staking. They looked very sturdy indeed, but went down in a recent storm. The lesson, I think, is to stake them when planting the tubers in April.
Dahlias seem to me handsomest when grown in deep rich loamy soil in full sun. One year I treated them well and they raced up to seven feet, tied to good stout six-foot stakes. But we do not always have space (really sunny spots are at such a premium in town) and often make do with conditions less than perfect. Even so, I now think stakes are important even for dahlia plants only waist high.
Recently when I dug up my fine clump of Hemerocallis citrina, the wild night-blooming scented day lily, to share with somebody who wanted some, I replanted it well. I did not just stick it back in the ground it was growing in for several years. Instead, I dug down 20 inches and mixed in a lot of good damp peat moss and reset the roots. No good deed ever goes unpunished, of course, and I am not surprised the squirrels and terrier have fully enjoyed the light friable dirt, and have excavated considerably, requiring the roots to be replanted. In time they will lose interest (the animals).
If you have made special exertions of this kind for planting something, as I did this summer for a couple of plants of the creeping fig, it is a good idea to surround the plant with several bricks laid flat on the ground. This keeps animals from digging, and after a year you simply take up the bricks. Except that in the case of the creeping fig, you would leave them permanently since they not only keep the soil moist but also keep weeds from getting a foothold. Of course the bricks make a perfect and impregnable home for the sowbugs, but then nothing works 100 percent.
A great deal can be done in a garden that cannot be done in a nursery. Recently I had to move a six-foot single kerria bush that clearly was not going to do in the place it was growing. Ideally, you would wait until October or March or April, but with a trifling amount of care you can move such plants now. The thing is to cut it back to three feet, which means it has virtually no leaves on it. You water thoroughly, of course, and you keep on watering until the bush is established in its new home. Eventually the new leaves come out.
I have moved a seven-foot rosebush, 'Celeste,' in late June and, some years ago, an enormous old plant of the rose 'Mermaid' in mid-July, with full success both times. But if this must be done -- and when there is a choice, of course you wait until November -- the trick is to see that every leaf is removed and the plant is cut back by at least half its bulk. Such exercises are not what one really wants, but in an emergency they can be performed with good prospects provided the gardener is not greedy, and does not try to move the bush without cutting any of it away.