9 PERENNIALS TO PLANT NOW
Lots of options for long-blooming spectacle
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