Fragrant, old-fashioned crinum lily.The odds and ends of August

Welcome to the Dog Days of summer, the steamy period of late July through August. It seems that ancient skywatchers associated the hottest days with the “Dog Star,” Sirius, the brightest star in the sky as well as brightest of the constellation Canis Major (big dog), because its rising and setting coincided with that of the sun. Ancient Romans thought the earth received heat from it, but not so—just another attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe. Rather, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth’s tilt.

What does that mean to us? Do you really want to go into your garden on most days? Probably not, but you still want something pretty to look at. The hardy perennials and some really tough annuals are your best answer.

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July is looming, threatening even, with punishing weather that demands the utmost from both garden and gardener. It will be more comfortable if you have done your homework (and yard work) previously and have provided the hardiest perennial surviviors to see you through the next two to three months.

One of the challenges of living on the coast is taking care of the exterior of your home.

Algae growth and mildew frequently appear on siding in the humid south. Experts suggest cleaning your vinyl, brick, stucco or wood siding with mild soap and water, a brush and a garden hose with a spray nozzle. They also suggest hiring a professional to pressure wash the exterior.

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It can get might buggy in the Lowcountry. Generally, it’s best to use a professional exterminator to control insects around your home.  However, there are steps you can take to help.

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Maintaining your air conditioning can mean savings not only in energy, but also in cold cash.

When temperatures reach their peak this summer, we can always escape indoors to air-conditioned comfort. Our home’s exterior isn’t so lucky. It must bear the brunt of summer’s heat and humidity.

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Frequently it’s the little things in life that add surprise and pleasure to the daily routine, and nowhere is that more evident than in the garden.

Although most gardeners seek out the big, showy flowers that flaunt bright colors for a brief season, at the same time it’s the smaller reliable ones, the workhorses, that quietly provide the background and foundation for the splashier ones.

Sometimes these are groundcovers, which may have little bloom, but have an interesting form and texture. More often they will be small annuals with persistent long-term flowering — and maintaining extended bloom in the summertime extremes of a Lowcountry garden is much to be desired.