Medium 9780253219763

Perennials Short and Tall: A Seasonal Progression of Flowers for Your Garden

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Designed for accessibility, this book offers tried-and-true advice on how to keep a yard in bloom. Presented in the sequence in which they bloom, with a chapter devoted to each of the three major growing seasons, 25 varieties of flowers are profiled with accompanying color illustrations. Additionally, Moya L. Andrews provides information about such basic topics as bed preparation, planting locations, weed control, and landscape principles. Andrews also offers practical tips on propagating, transplanting, and dividing perennials, as well as aesthetic considerations such as the use of color outdoors and flower arranging with cut blossoms. Suggestions for flower arrangement and producing indoor blooms in the winter months are also included.

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One An Inviting Garden

ePub

Won’t you come into my garden?
I want my roses to see you.

Richard Sheridan

Those of us who love flowers, to an extent that other people might find hard to understand, have an intimate relationship with them. This relationship deepens as we ourselves mature and learn more about their distinctive features and how they impact us. We may start out responding to their colors, shapes, and forms, sensing that we feel something quite special in their presence. Perhaps we then begin to recognize the other attributes that particularly delight us, and yearn for flowers that have special perfumes, or ones that evoke memories of people or of places that were meaningful to us in our childhood or times past. At some point in our evolving understanding of the significant part that flowers play in our existence, we realize that flowers really are an essential aspect of our identity, and they can affect how we actually feel day by day.

We realize that they serve as our symbols of the seasons. We wait to see the first spring flowers each year and we feel a deep need to mark each event by savoring the flowers that are associated with special times. We look for the daffodils in the spring, Easter lilies at Easter, poinsettias at Christmas, and so on. Also, instead of just waiting hopefully for someone to give us flowers, we come to the understanding that they are essential to our well-being. So we become more proactive in seeking out opportunities to have flowers. At this point we usually give ourselves permission to buy flowers for ourselves. Fortunately, nowadays flowers are available year-round, and it is a happy thing for us since we can so easily pick up our favorites and pop them into our grocery carts as we shop for food. Flowers, we have come to understand, are indeed food for our souls.

 

Two Work in Progress

ePub

Flower gardens are reflections
of their creators.
A garden, as well as the gardener,
is always a work in progress.

Each garden is unique, and it is never the same—day by day, season by season, year by year. Part of the joy of creating a garden is the continual sense of anticipation that comes as a result of partnering with Mother Nature, who is full of surprises. The process of raising flowers is itself instructive. Claude Monet said that perhaps he owed his becoming a painter to flowers. We expand our perceptions of colors, forms, shapes, perfumes, and permutations and combinations. We keep learning about design and elements of style through the medium of gardening. Change is inevitable. Established trees are uprooted by storms and shade gardens are transformed into sun gardens. Small trees mature and sun gardens are engulfed in shade. Water restrictions force us to investigate drought-tolerant plants. A visit to Vita Sackville-West’s garden at Sissinghurst, in England, moves us to create our own white garden. Whatever shifts in motivation and circumstances occur, there are perennials we can find to create the effects we need. We continually augment our collection, redesign beds to combine plants more effectively, use plants in new ways to avoid or compensate for past mistakes. Since perennials are persistent and forgiving plants, we get not only second chances but innumerable chances. The continuity aspect of working with perennials, in terms of both their lifespan and the recurrence of opportunity, is irresistible.

 

Three Flowers across Three Seasons

ePub

Spring is exuberant
with promise.
Summer is lavish
with abundance.
Autumn is mellow,
yet bittersweet.

It is convenient to categorize the plants according to their seasons of bloom, though of course all herbaceous perennials (but not the bulbs) contribute foliage that creates the tapestry of our gardens in each of the three growing seasons.

So, in this chapter we will be considering flowering perennials that also have diverse growth patterns and attractive foliage. All characteristics of plants are important in garden design as flowering ebbs and flows. It takes some years to have complete continuity of bloom, and even an established perennial garden with a back-up of flowering shrubs, vines, and trees will sometimes have blank spots. Deer may be the culprits, but there are other innumerable possibilities for disasters that can occur. Of course, the larger the garden, the more insurance we have against times without any perennial in bloom. References such as lists of plants help us add more than one type of plant per timeframe to carry the show outside and to fill our vases inside. So there are lists in the appendices to provide a guide for choices of both short and tall growers, according to the times they bloom and the conditions they prefer.

 

Four Displaying Flowers

ePub

A house with daffodils in it
is a house lit up,
Whether or not the sun
be shining outside.
Daffodils in a green bowl—
and let it snow if it will.

—A. A. Milne

One of the benefits of growing perennials is the continual supply of cut flowers for the home and for sharing with neighbors and friends. Flowers, ideally already arranged in a container, are a hostess gift that is usually welcome. The busy hostess does not have to worry about finding a vase, cutting the stems, and putting them in water. Hopefully, the water will never spill in your car en route. If you transport a lot of flowers, keep a few bricks in your car to pack around flower containers. Small containers sometimes can be anchored in cup-holders, if your car has them, or in small cardboard boxes with crushed-up newspaper packed around them. Some passengers in cars will even willingly hold a vase full of flowers en route to an event. Should you be lucky enough to persuade a passenger in your car to cooperate in this way, be sure to put only a small amount of water in the flower container before you hand it over. Seat the person first, of course, and then place the vase either between the passenger’s feet on the floor, or into the person’s hands. I may be belaboring this point a bit here, but caution is important, for if a passenger arrives with wet clothes it is embarrassing to say the least.

 

Five Spring

ePub

Pronounced:

er-AN-this

Also known as:

winter aconite

Family:

Renunculaceae

Colors:

yellow, white

Zones:

3–7

Description: There are about seven species of these low-growing perennials native to Europe and Asia. The leaves are palmate and dissected and look like a frill of green beneath the flowers, which are made up of five to eight sepals. The actual petals are modified into small nectaries. Though the small tubers are sold in bulb catalogs, aconites are best propagated by division.

Cultivation: E. hiemalis (hi-MAL-is) has sessile 2- to 6-inch-high yellow flowers in early spring, when it blooms with the snowdrops. It can be grown in zones 3–7 but likes cold and thrives in shaded moist sites. Since it is an ephemeral, it should be planted where it won’t be disturbed when it dies down later in the season. It increases over time into colonies, and its acid-yellow blooms light up the landscape even amid patches of late snow during early spring thaws. Put a few little blooms in tiny bottles indoors so that you can admire them up close.

 

Six Summer

ePub

Pronounced:

jer-AY-nee-um

Also known as:

cranesbill, true geranium, hardy or wild geranium

Family:

Geraniaceae

Colors:

magenta, pink, purple, violet-blue, white

Zones:

4–8

Height:

up to 2 feet

Description: These are mostly short-statured, long-lived perennials with mounds of palmate (hand-like) leaves that are often toothed or lobed. Some species have colorful fall foliage. Blooms are simple cups with five petals. Members of the species may be tender or hardy and some may be evergreen in mild areas. Native to Europe, they are sometimes confused with the annual pelargoniums from South Africa which are also referred to as geraniums and are grown in pots during the summer. All are easy-care and pest-free.

Cultivation: They thrive in full sun or partial shade, though in hot summers they enjoy more protection from the sun. After the first flush of bloom (usually spring) is past, cut them back to an inch from the ground, and new leaves will grow and some varieties will re-bloom. Divide them in spring or fall. Useful as ground cover to discourage weeds, they combine well with dicentra, pulmonaria, celandine poppy, and coral bells in light shade. They are staples in cottage gardens and are pass-along plants.

 

Seven Autumn

ePub

Pronounced:

ah-NEM-oh-nee

Also known as:

windflower, lily-of-the-field

Family:

Ranunculaceae

Colors:

pink, white, rose

Zones:

4–8

Height:

2½–5 feet

Description: There are approximately 120 species of perennial types of anemones, native mostly to the North Temperate Zone, often to mountainous regions. Leaves are usually more or less divided and form a ring below the flowers, which are held high in umbels on stiff stems. Their sepals are the showy part of the flower and there are no actual petals, but many stamens and pistils. The fall-blooming tall anemones are usually referred to as Japanese anemones (A. japonica) and are single pink flowers that were first found growing near Shanghai by Robert Fortune, a nineteenth-century plant explorer. The current name derives from the fact that they grow well in Japan. Some are hybrids and spread by rhizomes to form large clumps. ‘Honorine Jobert’ is white, ‘Queen Charlotte’ is a semi-double pink cultivar, and ‘Margareta’ is a double pink. A. tomentosa var. ‘Robustissima’ is the most hardy and adaptable.

 

Appendices

ePub

BOTANICAL NAME

COMMON NAME

Aruncus

goat’s beard

Astilbe

hybrids

Bergenia

hybrids pigsqueak

Chelone

turtle-head

Cimicifuga species

bugbane, snakeroot

Eupatorium fistulosum

joe-pye weed

Filipendula rubra

queen-of-the-prairie

Hibiscus moscheutos

swamp mallow

Iris ensata

Japanese iris

Iris pseudacorus

yellow flag iris

Iris versicolor

blue flag iris

Lobellia cardinalis

red cardinal flower

Myosotis sylvatica

woodland forget-me-not

Tradescantia

spiderwort

Trollius europaeus

globeflower

BOTANICAL NAME

COMMON NAME

Achillea

yarrow

Amsonia tabernaemontana

eastern bluestar

 

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