Now's the time to take stock of what's hot or not in your garden

Thursday, July 26, 2001 at 1:00am

There is something about the summers in Nashville. Without a doubt they can be hot and humid, but there is something very pleasant about them, too. We tend to overlook or forget the good things we have throughout the hottest times of the year. Generally, the temperatures cool off fairly well at twilight so you can enjoy your garden at the loveliest time of the day.

From the brilliance of the daylily in mid-June, and the black-eyed Susans in August, to the crepe myrtles and chaste trees, there is a wonderful gardening season to enjoy. Although the heat or occasional drought can stress our gardens, this is also a great time to see which plants perform well during these difficult gardening periods.

This is the time to look at the gardens and see which trees look lush and green, and take note of which flowers (either annuals or perennials) are in full bloom. Native plants are always a good choice and are probably the ones that are looking the best. Nashville is not the easiest gardening area, but these native plants are well adapted to our climate, our fluctuations in rainfall and our soils.

Most local nurseries carry both native and non-native choices. Go wild and add some native trees, shrubs or perennials to your garden. There is nothing more satisfying than enjoying the coarse leaf texture of the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) with its wonderful white flowers, the majestic presence of the nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii), or the fall color of black gum (Nyssa sylvatica). There are literally hundreds of choices, so be creative and show your creative wild side while gardening.

Horticultural Help

Q: When is the best time to divide my irises?

A: Bearded irises (the Tennessee state flower) are best dug and divided between now and mid-August. Gently dig your plants, and remove any soil around the roots. Cut back foliage to about 6-8

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