Peren­nial siz­zlers

Crave colour? Care­ful se­lec­tion and plan­ning will en­sure con­tin­u­ous blooms all sum­mer long.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Summer Garden -

Long-bloom­ing peren­ni­als make life so much eas­ier for gar­den­ers. Hard­work­ing hy­drangeas, al­stroe­me­rias, dahlias and daisies flower all sum­mer. Add peren­nial fillers and so­cial climbers, and things will quickly go from hum­drum to Hol­ly­wood.


A pop­u­lar and widely used cut flower, al­stroe­me­ria has an ex­cep­tional vase life and long sea­son, bear­ing its bold or pas­tel blooms from spring to au­tumn. Choose a tall va­ri­ety for pick­ing; the dwarf forms are suit­able for pots or at front of bor­ders. New va­ri­eties are very hardy.


Cen­tran­thus rubra bears clus­ters of red­dish blooms in pro­fu­sion from late spring through sum­mer. This hardy peren­nial is great for pick­ing, but keep it in check. It can be­come in­va­sive. Re­move spent flow­ers, or cut to bring in­doors, to avoid self-seed­ing.


Dreamy Thal­ic­trum delavayi pro­duces lilac sprays year af­ter year from late sum­mer through au­tumn. It weaves it­self nicely in amongst other peren­ni­als, its wispy blooms borne on pur­plet­inted stems. This el­e­gant plant adds height to the gar­den, up to 150cm tall.


Aside from ram­bling roses, climb­ing drama queens are easy to find at this time of year, from honk­ing camp­sis trum­pets in or­ange to cu­mu­lus clouds of pur­ple or pink bougainvil­lea. Clema­tis are, in com­par­i­son, quite mod­est, but the pure den­sity of flow­ers de­mands at­ten­tion. A climber needs room for its roots to roam and feed, so give them space and keep them as far from house and wall foun­da­tions as pos­si­ble. Plant 30-40cm out from the base of a wall.


Both Queen Anne's lace ( Dau­cus carota) and false Queen Anne's lace or bishop's weed ( Ammi ma­jus), are long-last­ing in the vase. There is a bur­gundy Dau­cus carota too, but the dau­cus take twice as long to flower from seed as Ammi ma­jus. Black pars­ley ( An­thriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing') is an ex­cel­lent cut flower too. It's a bi­en­nial or short-lived peren­nial with pur­ple-bronze fo­liage and um­bels of small white flow­ers sim­i­lar to the Queen Anne's laces.

Long-bloom­ing peren­ni­als are well worth the ef­fort, but plant them in the right con­di­tions or they’ll sulk.


These colour­ful chameleons war­rant a spot in any pick­ing gar­den – and in­deed any gar­den at all. The tra­di­tional dark blue, pink and white mop­head va­ri­eties look spec­tac­u­lar mass-planted, but lace­caps, pan­ic­u­latas and oak leaf va­ri­eties are great for mixed bor­ders.

Both lace­caps and mop­heads are re­silient plants that are tol­er­ant of shade and sun, with some grow­ing well in coastal ar­eas. The creamy white blooms of oak-leaved Hy­drangea quer­ci­fo­lia are cone-shaped and the var­i­ous forms of this drought-tol­er­ant species grow well in shade or sun (more so in cooler re­gions). In fall, their leaves turn bur­gundy and red, and their flow­ers take on a pink tinge.

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