Beware of stinging things. Hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, and their ilk are as cranky as we are in this heat, so be careful when cleaning and pruning. Sadly, honeybees get blamed for all of it; they usually sting only to defend the hive and queen. And some of the more visible bee-type things don't sting at all. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, have no upbringing, and will sting you multiple times just because they feel like it.  For an excellent description of all the yellow stripey things flying around the landscape, I recommend you go here: or Google: "Guide to flying yellow stripey things"

Check your soil. You can buy fancy little instruments to measure soil moisture, but I find a finger works fine and is less apt to get misplaced or broken. Stick it into the ground up to at least the second knuckle to get a read on soil moisture below the surface. This is especially important in the vegetable garden and in pots, which on some days really need to be watered twice.

Label your perennials.  Now that everything is in the height of bloom, get out some labels and markers and register your opinion. Use labels big enough to put full descriptions on, and for heaven's sake, get some indelible markers. Do it even for flowers that are done blooming, while you still remember what they looked like. You'll be very happy you did this when next spring you're digging around still nonexistent baby plants, or plants like daylilies that all look alike when they're little. NOTE: Even Sharpies are susceptible to UV fading, so stick the finished label down into the soil far enough to cover the words. This also keeps the garden from looking as if it's full of clutter.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (