Bring on the butterflies
If you're planting annual zinnias in your butterfly garden, be sure to select the "Lilliput" cultivar, which butterflies prefer more than 2 to 1 over other cultivars of this popular annual flower, reports Jeff Gillman, associate professor of horticulture at the University of Minnesota. One of the easiest annuals to grow, "Lilliput" zinnias produce small, double flower heads in a variety of bright colors. They can be grown in a sunny garden from seed or starter plants. To prevent powdery mildew, a common summer problem, provide good spacing between plants for air circulation and water at the roots to keep foliage dry.
Another good reason to garden
According to the Green Institute, crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases. In Philadelphia, for example, burglaries and thefts in one precinct dropped by 90 percent after residents cleaned vacant lots and planted gardens. Experts say people who are outside gardening also are more likely to notice criminal behavior. Some communities have even formed garden watchdog groups to encourage homeowners to spend more time outdoors gardening in an effort to prevent crime.
Landscape designer in a box
When it's too hot outside to garden, chill out indoors and plan your fall gardening projects. High Country Gardens makes it easy with its preplanned gardens that include professionally selected plants, planting instructions, diagrams and care tips. There are more than a dozen to choose from, including butterfly, hummingbird, Mediterranean and aroma gardens. Packages are priced at about $100 and up. Visit highcountry gardens.com or call toll-free 1-800-925-9387.
A shopper's delight
Minneapolis might be the garden lover's best summer destination to escape the heat and shop the nation's largest garden center. Bachman's Floral, Home and Garden Center spans more than 200,000 square feet packed with plant greenhouses, fresh flowers, garden gifts, garden tools and supplies, a cafe and more. Sign up for a free behind-the-scenes tour and you'll receive a shopping discount and long-stem rose. Visit bachmans.com or call toll-free 1-866-222-4626.
Yvonne Swanson, Times correspondent