Long-blooming perennials

Many gardeners today are lured into the seductive world of perennials without anyone letting them in on gardening’s shameful little secret: Most perennial flowers don’t bloom all that longsometimes only two or three weeks, and then pfft. In the nation’s shift from annual bedding gardens to beds and borders landscaped in herbaceous perennials, some first-timers are caught short with transitional dead spots in their yard, sometimes for weeks on end. This, of course, does not have to be.

By planting such long-blooming perennials as the Butterfly Blue pincushion flower (see previas page), gardeners can have enduring plants that flower-as does this remarkable pincushion, or scabiosa-from spring until frost. While other long bloomers don’t bloom quite that long, you should be able to count on a minimum of six to eight weeks for each plant recommended here. The purpleflowering East Friesland salvia (near right) is another worthy subject. Do a little mixing-and-matching of the various high-performance perennials and you’ll have wall-to-wall flowers throughout the growing season.

Hybrid yarrow

The cream yellow Moonshine achillea, or yarrow (far left) and its yellow-yellow cousin Coronation Gold (near left) are middle- or backof-the-border plants. The grayish foliage is attractively fernlike; the flower heads stunning. Plant in full sun.

Bloom time Throughout summer

Plant heights Moonshine-2 feet Coronation Gold-3 feet Gaura

Angelic little flowers climb swaying wands which grow longer and longer during the season-producing more and more wee angels. Bonus: The white flowers fade to pink, and the gray-green leaves can turn brilliant red come fall. Full sun to part shade.

Bloom time Late spring to fall

Plant height 3 to 4 feet

Zagreb coreopsis You may already know the pale yellow Moonbeam variety of coreopsis/ Zagreb is its showier golder incarnation. Full sun to light shade.

Bloom time Summer to fall

Plant height 15 inches

Dropmore Scarlet honeysuckle

This handsome vine has a multitude of trumpet flowers-scentless, unfortunately-that attract hummingbirds. Bonus: berries. Full sun to part shade.

Bloom time summer through fall

Plant height 15 to 20 feet Red valerian

Bushy clumps of centranthus naturalize freely, so watch its spread. Full sun.

Bloom time Early summer to fall

Plant height 2 to 3 feet

Verbena bonariensis

This strikingly vertical tender perennial sows itself. Invasive where hardy. Sun

Bloom time Midsummer through fall

Plant height 3 to 4 feet Luxuriant bleeding-heart

this fringed dicentra is a ferny-looking wildflower. Unlike many other woodland bloomers, Luxuriant’s foliage does not die back in summer but remains gray-green and perky until frost Full to light shade.

Bloom time spring and fall

Plant height 15 inches

Hybrid Lenten rose

These hellebores need a little babying the first year or two as they settle in, but the results are more than rewarding elegant flowers just as winter wears out its welcomoe. Bonus: In most climates, the foliage is evergreen. Full to light shade.

Bloom time Late winter through spring

Plant height 18 inches

Carydalis lutea

Yellow is a tough color to find in a shade lover, but this lacy-leafed delight will brighten almost any darkened nook with its pastel blossoms. Corydalis is another vigorous grower, which makes it easy to use as cascading filler in a stone wall. Full to light shade.

Bloom time Spring through fall

Plant height 15 inches

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