By Jane Milliman
Have you noticed that some gardens really look good only in spring and early summer? That’s partially because those are the only times a lot of people shop, and they buy what’s in bloom. Of course to overcome this, visit the garden center throughout the growing season. But you also can make a big difference by planning.
Let’s say you have a moderately moist, mostly sunny location and you like the color pink. Here’s how you can have a beautiful array of pink perennials all season long.
Start with bergenia, a tough-as-nails plant with big, evergreen foliage and beautiful, pink-to-white blooming stalks in early to late spring. Bergenia stays low to the ground, so when it is done blooming it makes a nice ground cover. Its shiny, leathery leaves turn red as the season progresses, adding interest.
Next up is astilbe, with its feathery plumes that come in hues of pink, purple, and white. Astilbe spreads without being invasive, so it’s another good ground cover, even when it’s not in bloom.
Monarda, that classic riverside native, shines in midsummer in colors from pink to red to purple. Look for the newer varieties that resist powdery mildew. Monarda also is referred to as bee balm and Oswego tea.
Rodgersia is another great ground cover that produces a magnificent display of pink plumes. Its big, glossy leaves resemble the leaves of a buckeye tree, and it’s at home in sun or shade.
Thalictrum, or meadow rue, is a native cousin of Rodgersia and is wild all over the Northeast. Breeders have come up with varieties that are far superior to what you stumble upon in the woods. Check out ‘Black Stockings’ and my favorite (though it isn’t pink), ‘Lavender Mist’.
Rounding out the season, we have turtlehead (Chelone spp.), another Northeast native that is sadly underused. Butterflies love turtlehead, and it blooms well into September, making it a particularly useful addition.
Maybe you don’t have a moist, mostly sunny location. Maybe you don’t like pink. But with just a little research—visiting garden centers, going to botanical gardens, referencing books and magazines, and surfing the Web—you can make your garden bloom all season long too.
Discover strategies to keep a garden blooming spring through fall (and sometimes even winter!).Learn More