Oh, this is the joy of the rose--that it blooms and goes.
- Willa Cather
Viewing entries tagged perennial Foxglove
I’m definitely in my yellow period now. The blues and purples of Forget-me-nots and Phlox are memories; the pinks of Rhododendrons and Laurels have faded now, too. Every year in June I notice a pattern of yellows across the garden. It brings light and cheer to the yard and draws the eye along. Right now the Ladies’ Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is at its peak, spilling lemon froth over the edges of the borders. I love this plant for both its rain-catching foliage and its ethereal flowers.
Next are the yellow Foxgloves (Digitalis ambigua), which are peppered around the garden and have been in flower for about three weeks. The Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) has opened early, and though its tiny, daisy-like flowers are white, their buttery centers pick up the theme. A sunny sprinkling of Loosetrife (Lysimachia punctata) and Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa) beckons me further. Sedum acre sprawls across the rock garden and is just starting to become a sea of yellow.
These plants now in bloom tie in with the yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea) whose flowers are a given from April to October. And I haven’t even mentioned the golden foliage of the Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’), some of the Hostas (H. 'Guacamole' is a favorite), the Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) and the golden Chamaecyparis that anchor the beds. One last and lesser known golden shrub is Forsythia 'Gold Leaf'. This cultivar doesn't bloom as generously as the traditional green plant, but its foliage makes up for that.
The yellows compliment the green background, of course, but they also look great with blue, as in the glaucus foliage of Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and H. ‘Blue Angel’. And they bring drama to the burgundy of Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple.’ They even flatter the hot pinks of Astilbes (A. arendsii ‘Rhythm and Blues’) and Impatiens. In fact, with yellow foliage, who needs flowers at all?
Tags: shade gardening, CT gardening, gardening in zone 6, gardening in the Northeast, Gardening in New England, organic gardening, Phlox divaricata, Myosotis sylvatica, Forget-Me-Not, Alchemilla mollis, Ladies' Mantle, Sedum acre, Sundrops, Oenothera fruticosa, Chrysanthemum parthenium, Feverfew, Chamaecyparis, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', Japanese Forest Grass, Corydalis lutea, Hosta 'Guacamole', Astilbe arendsii 'Rhythm and Blues', Astilbe arendsii, Astilbe, H. micrantha 'Palace purple', Heuchera micrantha, Hosta 'Blue Angel', Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans', Hosta, Digitalis ambigua, perennial Foxglove, Foxglove, Golden Creeping Jenny, Loosestrife, Lysimachia punctata, Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea', gold foliage, yellow
In this quiet season, I appreciate any signs of green life I find. Besides the obvious evergreens, I notice the rosettes of leaves left behind by the biennials. This group of plants seems to be largely neglected by garden writers. But they play an important role in the garden.
Biennials, like annuals, will only flower once, so they have an extended bloom time. And since they are mature in the second year, they can fill space more quickly than perennials. This makes them a good choice for gaps between new perennials and immature shrubs.
My theory is that gardeners resent biennials because they allow us even less control than other plants do. They travel. The first year, a biennial establishes itself, producing leaves but no flowers. Generally, it retains a rosette of green basal leaves through the winter, preparing for its maturity and flowering in the second and final spring or summer. The good news is that, where biennials are happy, they reseed themselves so that they will “perennially” be in our garden.
The bad news is that the self-sown progeny may show up yards away from the original planting site. This can frustrate our plans for a well-designed garden bed.
I find this is true especially of foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea). The second year after I introduced them to my yard, I was perplexed to find them sprinkled randomly. But they are so impressive, particularly in a shade garden, that I humored them. Now my strategy is to keep planting foxgloves periodically to ensure a generous selection each year. Then, when they pop up unexpectedly, I can move, remove or leave them be.
There is a perennial foxglove (D. ambigua) that stays put. These come in only one soft yellow and are lovely dangling their heads in late spring.
For the erect, architectural flowers in pinks, purples, and speckles, we have to look to the biennial “Common Foxglove.”
Lunaria, also known as Honesty or Money Plant, is another biennial that goes where it likes. With its delicate lavender blossoms, it makes a wonderful companion for Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) in April and May. When its flowers are done, it forms the disc-like seed pods that, when peeled, resemble silvery sheets of mica. Wonderful to collect and dry.
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sylvatica) tend to seed themselves in dense clusters that spread vigorously. Though these, too, can be found popping up in another part of the garden entirely. A drift of either flower can be an awesome sight in spring, and they continue blooming for long periods. The Forget-Me-Nots can provide a sea of blue for as much as six weeks, but be aware that they are actually considered invasive in some areas.
Unfortunately, once these biennials have set seed, their work is done. They fade away, leaving a hole in the planting bed for the rest of the season. In the case of the Forget-Me-Nots, their spent flower stems turn black and must be removed, leaving only the tiny seedlings that will flower next year. One way to avoid the holes is to plant latecomers like Hostas and ferns among the biennials. Another is to fill the gaps left behind with annuals.
All the biennials I have mentioned will bloom and prosper in sun to part shade, which enhances their value. Give them moist soil and they will return reliably, though only they know where. Make the most of their reseeding to let them naturalize and fill an area for impact. But remember, too, that one of the joys of gardening is the unexpected or happy accident. Some biennials will come up in places more striking and beautiful than we could ever plan.
Tags: gardening in zone 6, gardening in the Northeast, Gardening in New England, CT gardening, naturalizing, Digitalis purpurea, Digitalis ambigua, perennial Foxglove, Winter interest, spring flowers, dicentra, Bleeding Hearts, Mertensia virginica, Virginia bluebells, Annuals, shade gardening, self-seeding, Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis, Honesty, Money Plant, Lunaria, Foxglove, Myosotis sylvatica, Forget-Me-Not, biennials