The best flowering plants for your garden
What is the perfect flowering plant for your garden?
If I were to list the attributes of the “perfect” flowering plants in our gardens, the list might look something like this: A. They would be truly perennial. Wrought-iron winter hardy. B. They would attract pollinators. C. They would be fragrant. D. You could cut the flowers to bring them indoors. E. They would flower for a long time, providing the best value of all.
While no plant of this description exists, some plants come very close! Here is my list of the top eight flowering plants that come closest to a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.
Veronica 4 out of 5 I love veronica. I have about 30 of them in my garden, mostly blue. Some I have grown for more than 10 years, they are that reliable. Honey bees and native bees love it. I can cut them and bring them indoors. After they flower in early summer, I cut them back by two-thirds and watch them reflower in August. The only thing missing is fragrance. The 10 popular varieties listed in this year’s Sheridan Nurseries catalogue range in height from 15 to 70 centimetres.
Pincushion flower (scabiosa) 31/2 out of 5 The variety Butterfly Blue was the perennial plant of the year in 2000 and butterflies do love it. It blooms for such a long time that it can actually bloom itself to death. Which is why I recommend you cut it back after eight weeks of blooming, just to give the poor dear a rest. It’s a winner! It grows to a height of 50 centimetres and loves the sun.
Joe Pye weed (eupatorium) 4 out of 5 Who thought it was a good idea to call this plant a weed? It’s a reliable performer in the sun and winter hardy. Butterflies, hummingbirds and bees love it. It flowers its head off from early August through October. I grow the variety Little Joe, which is fragrant and grows up to 120 centimetres. Cut them and bring them indoors, though they drop a lot of detros. Related to the native butterfly weed. Which is a weed.
Hosta 31/2 out of 5 There are more than 7,000 hosta varieties, so one of them must be perfect for you, right? Sheridan Nurseries in Toronto lists more than 70 varieties. I grow about 30 varieties in my garden. For fragrance and great foliage, try Blue Mouse Ears (grows to 15 centimetres). Minuteman also attracts hummers (grows to 60 centimetres) and Sagae is one of the toughest, best-flowering hostas on the market. I recommend it for planting around the roots of large trees, where it competes well. Hosta flowers are amazing. They are very winter hardy and attract pollinators.
Coral bells (heuchera) 3 out of 5 The midsummer flowers on coral bells are amazing: they last for up to six weeks, you can cut them and they attract butterflies and hum- mingbirds. My favourite varieties are Amber Waves (a show stopper), Marmalade (a more appropriately named plant there has never been) and Palace Purple (very purple and deserving of royalty).
Bee balm (monarda) Almost 5 out of 5 I had to put this on the list: the original bee balm is a native plant but there are many hybrids that have been introduced since the Europeans first set foot on Canadian soil.
Most varieties grow to about 70 centimetres, all are very winter hardy, bloom for up to six weeks, attract butterflies and hummingbirds, can be cut to display indoors and the varieties Rose and Grand Parade are fragrant. Sold!
Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia) 4 out of 5 Black-eyed Susan is a boon to lowmaintenance gardeners, as all you have to do is weed them.
Goldsturm and hirta varieties attract butterflies, all varieties last a long time in a vase, bloom for up to12 weeks (three months!) and are winter hardy to zone 4 (Montreal/Ottawa). They do not have a scent. I will forgive Susan for that because she is a winner in my books! Loves the sun and grows 80 centimetres or higher.
Yarrow (achillea) 31/2 out of 5 A butterfly magnet, very winter hardy (zone 2/Edmonton) and the flowers are great when cut and brought indoors.
While it is not fragrant and it can take over a corner of the garden, it blooms for up to 12 weeks and is perfect for golfers or sailors or anyone who just wants colour in their garden and a plant they can ignore so they can do something other than gardening.