For garden colour that spans the seasons from spring to fall, you can’t beat annuals. If you purchase pre-started plantlets, they are often blooming when you plant them and continue unabated until frost ends their year. Cleome, cosmos, and portulaca are all still going strong in my garden. It is the nature of perennials to have a shorter bloom season. Unlike annuals, which have one glorious summer to fulfill their mandate, perennials have several years, sometimes many years, and must direct some of their energy to preparing for the winter ahead.
Nevertheless, the two species of coreopsis represented in my garden came very close to matching the performance of annuals. The winner of this year’s “All Summer Long” bloom award goes to Coreopsis grandiflora “Mayfield Giant”, which put on a marvellous show. Its brilliant golden-yellow flowers have lit up the border all summer and are still blooming as we head into October.
The runner-up prize goes to the closely related Coreopsis verticillata “Moonbeam”. This little sweetheart, with its narrow leaves, has an airy presence and makes an excellent filler plant between larger perennials. Its prolific pale-yellow blooms compliment just about any other plant it is partnered with.
While some of the echinaceas, or coneflowers, have been content with a modest bloom season, some species have out-bloomed both their cousins and my expectations. One of the best has been Echinacea “Green Jewel”. Its interesting green-hued flowers are still going strong.
The roses that I planted midseason have settled in well. I didn’t deadhead them, with the hope of encouraging them to stop blooming and concentrate on rooting. Rosa Radcor ‘Knock Out Rainbow’ wasn’t to be dissuaded, however, and is still blooming nicely.
The butterfly bush, Buddleia hybrid “Honeycomb” hasn’t been too impressive. It struggles in this hardiness zone. Still, I have to give it credit for persistence. It is still blooming and feeding the bees.
In the spring, I planted some very small seedlings of two varieties of agastache (ag-ah-STAK-ee as per Fine Gardening magazine). I was worried that after a long summer of struggling, they wouldn’t survive the winter. However, both have come along in the last few weeks of summer, even putting out some flower stalks, so maybe they’ll make it to next year and come back stronger. Shown above is Agastache barberi ‘Tutti Frutti’ and below is Agastache aurantiaca “Coronado Red”, not really red at all, but a soft orange.
I’ll close with this little sweetheart, Dianthus “Raspberry Swirl”. Like the agastache, it has spent the summer getting settled and is just now putting out a few flowers, way behind its normal blooming time. Worth the wait, though, don’t you think?