C - Colour for Most Seasons

Every gardener has a different opinion about how things should be done. An example is a favorite saying from one of my good gardening friends: "You get three gardeners in one room - fist fight!". While I don't completely agree with Gerry - I know that there is always more than one way to approach a subject. I hope that we can provide you with some useful information, and some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
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Note: The information below is directed to gardens in  zones 5B-6. Often, even though you are in the specified climatic zone, you may find differences in culture with changes to your specific microclimate.
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Colour For Most Seasons - Perennials and Bulbs
By The Garden Commando

  People often express disappointment in the apparently short bloom time of the various bulbs and perennials they have planted. 

This article is an encapsulated, month-by-month flowering guide of perennial flowering plants (including bulbs and rhizomes) to help you keep colourful for longer. There are many more plants available to provide colour for each month, but because of space constraints, I cannot list all of them. 

February - March. During warm spells and as snow begins to melt, the following bulbs will flower:Winter Aconite
Eranthus (Winter Aconite); Galanthus (Snow Drops); and Ipheion (Star Flower). 
March - April. The many types of crocus
are joined by Tulipa (Kaufmania) a charming, low growing tulip which comes in many colours. Anemone blanda (Windflower) adds rich splashes of colour in a semi- shaded area. 

April - May. Mid April, daffodils begin to bloom along with early tulips, such as Darwins. As the season progresses, the mid and late tulips begin, such as Lily flowered and Parrot. For something different, choose an early blooming Fritalaria, such as F. meleagris (or F. imperiale, for something really exotic). 

May - June. Papaver (poppy) adds a colourful accent to the border, joined by perennial Alyssum saxatile (Gold Dust Alyssum); and Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift) for the sunny rock garden. For partial to full shade: Trollius lutea (Globe Flower) provides a mass of golden yellow blooms, and of course, Aquilegia (Columbine) provides charming blooms in a wide variety of colours. 

June - July. Through the month of June, the various Bearded Iris appear, and roses begin. As the Iris finish, Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) and Pyrethrum (Painted Daisy) begin; then Achillea (Yarrow) makes a colourful start, along with Trumpet lilies. 

July - August. Mid July through August is Lily time. Hybrid Day Lilies (Paradise Pink, Catherine Woodbury, American Revolution, Copper Medallion) Lilium Asiatica (Asiatic lilies); lilium orientalis (Oriental lilies) all provide a delightful show. With its bright daisy-like flowers, Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) is great in a sunny bed; Hosta fortunei "Aureo Marginata" (Hosta, Plantain Lily) livens up a shady corner. 

August - September. The feathery Astilbe Taqueti "Superba" (Fall Astilbe) is good in a partial shade area, as is Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower)and for full sun, Rudbeckia hirta (Cone Flower, and various other names, including Black Eyed Susan!), and Sedum spectabile (Showy Stonecrop). Although past its prime, Phlox paniculata (Summer Phlox will continue to show bloom at this time.

September - October. The various Rudbeckias will continue flowering sporadically, but Aster nova-belgi (Michaelmas Daisy) begins now - in rich shades of mauve and crimson. In October, really impress your neighbours with Autumn flowering crocus (kotschyianus (zonatus), medius, sativus and speciosus which come in a range of pastels), and Colchicum (speciosum; cilicicum and byzantinum), with their dainty, lily-like little blooms. For something exotic, try Lycoris squamigera (Magic Lily). 

October - November - December.  Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem Artichoke), produce 8' plants and edible roots. Their spectacular bright yellow flowers begin in October and continue through until mid November (if the weather permits). One is not forgetting Chrysanthemums, of course. These will continue to flower until a serious frost occurs. And last, there is one shrub, Viburnum tinnus, which flowers from November until February. (By the way, if you started your Paperwhites, Hyacinths and Amaryllis early enough, you should have colour indoors in December and January!) 

It takes careful planning, but you can have colour in your garden for most seasons.
Texts used to support this article: 

New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening  Edited by T.H. Everett, Assistant Director (horticulture) and Curator of Education the New york Botanical Garden.  Greystone Press, New York
Landscaping With Bedding Plants Pat Tucker, University of Guelph, Distance Learning text.

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This page was updated August 9/04

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