Extension Educator, Horticulture
Do you know what the best dressed gardens are wearing this year? Long bloomers of course. Bright flowery bloomers of red, orange or deep blue. However, the truly daring gardeners include some short bloomers for spice. Long bloomers cover the often-heard gardener's lament that perennial flowers just don't bloom long enough. Long bloomers are showoffs for four to six weeks and maybe longer. Here is a style show of just a few of the long bloomers. Take a walk down the runway ladies.
Fringed Bleeding Heart is wearing a cape of blue green fern-like leaves which set off her lovely pink or white heart-shaped flower hat. She has been known to hang out with shady characters such as hosta, fern and even our next model.
Wild Phlox alias Phlox divaricata is for the more petite shady gardens. Her stature may be small at 12 inches tall, but her bright flower eyes of blue or white are sure to please even the most discriminating of tastes. She is also wearing a lovely fragrance of "ode to spring."
For perennial salvia 'May Night' imagine the deep blue of the ocean on spike heels. The flower spikes appear in summer and continue for weeks if the old flowers are removed.
Golden yarrow is a real over achiever. If the flower heads are cut before the pollen develops, the yellow color will remain as a dried flower indoors for a year or so.
Coreopsis is draped in lacy green leaves. Her fine features are topped with yellow or pink daisies. She looks best in crowds of her own kind.
Red valerian is a stately three feet tall and a real sun lover. Her small pink, red or white flowers are borne in large clusters. She does need a good haircut after initial flowering to coax her to continue to show off.
Black-eyed Susan is always a showstopper in summer with her sunny yellow flowers. She is vigorous, well flowered and quite the brazen show off. Look for 'Goldsturm' for her bright yellow flowers, dark green leaves and compact form at 24 inches tall.
Purple coneflower is in her element in a sunny garden. She is beautiful and tough owing to her native heritage.Purple coneflower is quite the social butterfly with many winged visitors in the summer. In the fall gold finches enjoy her seedy character.
Russian sage is that little black dress that never goes out of style. Her refined beauty never demands attention. All the flowers love to be her companion. She is clothed in grey-white from head to toe even in winter. In summer she displays her blue flowers in tall spires.
Aster is kind of a wallflower until late summer arrives, and then watch out. Her vivid colors of pink or blue are sure to enliven a fall garden.
Sedum always looks good no matter what the weather. Even without her flowers, her dressy leaves of blue-green look good from the moment they appear in spring until late fall. Autumn Joy is a "must have" in sunny gardens. I'm afraid we have run out of time, but be sure to check out these other long bloomers: snowdrop anemone, perennial bachelor button, blanketflower, balloonflower, and pincushion flower.
If you would like to know how to divide and transplant some of those long bloomers, come to the Idea Garden in the U of I Arboretum on south Lincoln in Urbana on Saturday April 8 at 10:00 am for the program on dividing perennials by Master Gardener Bette Hughes. No cost or registration required. Additional programs include: spring rose care (April 15) and new plants and ideas in gardening (April 29).