My garden is uphill from the town I live in, and it’s like I’m in a different zone, too. The flat areas below me get warmer (and colder in winter when the cold air just sits there). My gardening friends 10 miles to my east are a week behind me; my garden friends 10 miles to my west, a week ahead. Go figure. I think elevation figures in as does light patterns and terrain (flat, sunny, open spots are going to bake compared to my hilly, undulating site adjacent to woodlands). As for plants: What "just shy of full sun" means is the key here to what will grow best. Yes, roses want full sun ideally, but will grow fine when they get most of a day’s worth; ditto clematis (who do indeed seem to like "their feet cool"). I grow hydrangeas of various kinds (especially the paniculata types) in sun and semi-shade, too, for instance, so many things are adaptable. To get same-season coverage with vines, you’re going to need annuals like morning glories, with their biggish leaves. To speed things along buy plants, not seeds. You have more than a month of (probably) hot weather before mid-July so you’ll be amazed what grows in by then. There are many salvias, both perennial and tender, that would work. I love the larger Nicotianas, but you’ll probably need larger plants to get major bloom by mid-July (bigger than cellpack-sized seedlings). For extra impact, I like to include not just flowering annuals but also ones appreciated for their foliage (like Coleus, Cannas, elephant ears) in my designs so that I have "color" even before the flowers come into full swing. Perhaps something silvery would be nice with your palette, too? Sounds to me like you need a fast trip to Loomis Creek Nursery in Claverack, where an advantage would be seeing various plants combined and growing in their display beds. Ever been? (They’re listed in my sources.)
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.