Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thinking Spring-Color in the Garden Part III: Perennials

The rains are coming down in the northeast and the daylilies are poking their heads up through the soil so it is time to talk about perennials.

When it comes to combining perennials, colors from opposite sides of the color wheel combine the best. My favorite combination is that of purple and yellow. The cool color of purple ‘Maynight ‘ Salvia or blue Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’ combine beautifully with the warm yellows of Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ and Daylilly ‘Stella D’Oro’and also go along with the yellow-orange color of Gaillardia 'Goblin'.  Combine purples and yellows along with the deep maroon color of Barberry ‘Royal Burgundy” and you have an array of color which one cannot resist.
Salvia 'Maynight'
Another favorite is heuchera or ‘Coral Bells’ which is known for its deep burgundy foliage throughout the season and dainty white flowers in Spring which closely resemble baby’s breath. There are many varieties of heuchera but the one which I find to be most hardy in the Northeast is Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ which tends to hold up better here with our severe winters. Heuchera goes beautifully along with coreopsis, salvia and nepeta as well as with grasses.
Coreopsis 'Zagreb'

Another suggestion for combining perennials with grasses would be the combination of Sedum ‘Brilliant’ with dwarf fountain grass, coreopsis and perhaps a weeping evergreen as a focal point. As far as sedum is concerned, there are also many varieties but I prefer the ‘Brilliant’ for its more vibrant pinkish color and shorter stature as compared to ‘Autumn Joy’-but it’s a matter of opinion. The ‘Autumn Joy’ or even the Spurium ‘Rose Glow’ would also complement grasses nicely in the garden.
Hosta 'Patriot'

If you prefer the woodland look or have shady conditions then the ole reliable hosta comes to mind. There are so many varieties of Hosta to choose from and it is virtually indestructible. Also if you separate them with a sharp spade in early spring they will re-grow quickly to form a perfectly circular shape as if they were never touched. One of my favorite varieties of hosta is ‘Patriot’. It’s deep green foliage edged with a creamy white border makes it a welcome guest to brighten up even the darkest of shade gardens. It does very well here in the Northeast and goes beautifully with variegated liriope, heuchera (coral bells) and astilbe. Other favorites are ‘Francee Williams’, ‘Blue Cadet’ and ‘Golden Tiarra’.
Gaillardia 'Goblin'

There are so many perennials to choose from for the garden.  I have tried to focus on varieties which are hardy in the Northeast and which are my all time favorites for long bloom time, abundant color and dependability. 
Heuchera 'Coral Bells'
After years of experience as a designer I find these to be the most reliable and have enjoyed them in my own gardens for years and will continue to enjoy them for years to come.  

In future articles I will focus more on the uses of combinations of perennials in the cottage garden as well as the incorporation of perennials along with evergreens and deciduous plants for everlasting beauty and enjoyment.  For a complete gallery of perennials mentioned in this post visit:  Perennials .

Happy gardening!

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking Spring-Color in the Garden Part II: Deciduous & Flowering Shrubs

PeeGee Hydrangea Tree
In the last segment I discussed evergreen color in the garden. In this section I will be adding the use of deciduous shrubs with color as well as flowering shrubs for long term color. These shrubs along with perennials are to be used along with the evergreens discussed previously. When choosing colorful shrubs remember to use only a few color choices and repeat them throughout the garden in groupings of odd numbers for a more naturalistic look.

Rosy Glow Barberry
An old time favorite in the garden is the ‘Royal Burgundy’ barberry. Its deep burgundy color stands out against any of the green, golden or blue varieties of evergreen discussed in the previous section and grows only to two feet in height. Another variety of barberry, ‘Rosy Glow’ grows much taller to about three to four feet or more over time but is beautiful in the right setting and can be maintained with regular Fall or late winter-early spring (March) pruning. It gets its name ‘Rosy Glow’ from the light pink glow of new growth which it gets in the spring through early summer. Each of these barberries contrast nicely with blue spruce, gold mop cypress and blue atlas cedar. Alternates to barberry for burgundy foliage are Weigela 'Spilled Wine' and Ninebark 'Diablo'.

Spirea 'Limemound'
Spirea in the family Rosaceae is a wonderful addition in the garden and is available in a multitude of sizes and colors. Some of my personal favorites are Spirea ‘Little Princess’, a small compact pink flowering form that tolerates shade and the sun loving Spirea ‘Limemound’ which has an unusual lime color to its foliage as the name indicates. Some other nice selections are ‘Gold Mound’, ‘Gold Flame’ and Spirea ‘Anthony Waterer’. The later ‘Spirea ‘Anthony Waterer’ grows taller than the other varieties to about three to four feet and serves well as a backdrop to lower plantings, adding a touch of deep pink throughout the summer. Spireas can get as wide as they are tall so give them plenty of space and enjoy. They can be easily maintained by regular Fall or early Spring (March) pruning to keep their shape and fullness.

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'
Now onto the hydrangeas and vibernum. The ‘Endless Summer’ collection of hydrangea are the best new additions ever cultivated, a worry free long blooming form of hydrangea which blooms on both old and new wood so you no longer need to worry about when to prune ...fear no more! Hydrangea ‘All Summer Beauty’ also blooms on the new wood of the season and is a nice addition to the landscape. Hydrangea ‘Pee Gee’ and Hydrangea ‘Tardivia’ are two varieties which are available in tree form, each exhibiting bountiful fragrant white blooms and either can be used as a stand alone piece adding a wonderful focal point to the garden.

Viburnum 'Carlcephalum'
If it is a more natural look in the garden you are looking for then the genus viburnum may be what you prefer. Viburnum are known for their graceful arching branches and white blooms, some which resemble the flower of a dogwood. Viburnum plicatum 'Summer Snowflake' as the name indicates has very delicate white flowers which resemble snowflakes which cover the entire plant when in bloom. It is one of the more compact lower spreading forms of viburnum which serves beautifully in the woodland garden and grows to about three to five feet in height. Fragrant varieties of viburnum include Viburnum ‘Burkwoodi’, Viburnum ‘Juddii’ and Viburnum’ Carlesii’ all of which have the fragrance of the sweetest perfume and are all an excellent addition to a natural planting.

Also check out these other interesting shrubs which can add color and interest to your garden: Nandina domestica (False Bamboo), Japanese Skimmia, Weigela, Leucothoe, Knock Out Rose, Rhododendron and Azalea.  Each flowering shrub can add its own personal elegance and beauty to the outdoor landscape. 

In the next part of this series I will discuss the incorporation of long lasting colorful perennials into the garden and make suggestions as to which perennials are best for the continuous enjoyment of your landscape.

                                                       Landscape Design Combinations

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved