Lots of op­tions for long-bloom­ing spec­ta­cle

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

IF space is tight, a two-week flush of flow­ers sim­ply won’t cut it. In the small gar­den plants have to work hard to earn their place, bloom­ing re­li­ably for sev­eral weeks – even months. Of course, a con­tin­u­ous sum­mer show is pro­vided by bed­ding plants like lo­belia and ten­der pot plants like pelargo­ni­ums, but there are plenty of herba­ceous peren­ni­als that can also ful­fil that func­tion in the border.

Now is the time to get many of these in the ground. Planted in au­tumn, their roots will es­tab­lish dur­ing the colder months, al­low­ing them to bloom madly come sum­mer. So when pur­chas­ing peren­ni­als over the next few weeks, opt for the ones that de­liver the best value for money via im­pres­sive flower power.

Flow­ers for weeks

Start­ing in May, some aqui­le­gia will bloom for weeks. At Great Dix­ter in East Sus­sex the beau­ti­ful A. chrysan­tha ‘Yel­low Queen’ pro­duces but­tery yel­low flow­ers from May to July. Also get­ting an early start are bleed­ing hearts (di­cen­tra) in­clud­ing ‘King of Hearts’, which can pro­duce its lip­stick-pink flow­ers from April to Au­gust. And some spurges have a long flow­er­ing stint that be­gins in late spring – Euphor­bia palus­tris can be a

“Colour is cov­ered by the likes of salvia and nepeta”

cloud of acid-lime from May to July.

Sum­mer colour is eas­ily cov­ered by the likes of salvia, nepeta, gaura, knau­tia and ver­bena, which flower con­sis­tently dur­ing June, July and Au­gust – of­ten longer. Con­sider also those border gems that will keep up the good work into early au­tumn: phlox, rud­beckia and echi­nacea, for ex­am­ple, get go­ing in mid-sum­mer and bloom into Septem­ber. Phlox pan­ic­u­lata ‘Blue Par­adise’ and the white ‘David’ are par­tic­u­larly long flow­er­ing, as is Rud­beckia fulgida var. sul­li­van­tii ‘Gold­sturm’. And de­cid­u­ous sub-shrub Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ will pro­duce woolly laven­der-like spires from July to Oc­to­ber.

Car­pets of colour

At the front of the border, lots of low grow­ers earn their place with almighty flower power. The Mex­i­can flea­bane (Erigeron karvin­skianus) pro­duces pink and white daisies for months; the bellflower Cam­pan­ula poscharskyana is a car­pet of vi­o­let-blue from June to Septem­ber; and de­pend­able geums such as ‘Mrs J. Brad­shaw’ cheer us with fiery flow­ers all sum­mer long.

Com­bine these florif­er­ous cham­pi­ons for a long-lived bloom of colour that will not die down un­til the frosts ar­rive.

Peren­ni­als such as salvia, nepeta and he­le­nium will pro­vide a riot of sum­mer colour – and plant­ing now en­sures they are well es­tab­lished by flow­er­ing time

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