Perennials and Flowers

Beautiful and often deceptively easy to care for, perennials and flowers provide more than just color to the landscape. A very important aspect of a productive and healthy vegetable garden lies in the selective planting of flowers. Although many aren’t edible (but a few are), flowers attract beneficial insects, birds and pollinators to the garden, where they provide valuable assistance—from setting blooms into fruit to keeping pests at bay. At a time when the bee population is in decline and many song birds are becoming scarce, a perennial flower garden offers a safe place for these creatures to rest and feed, helping to keep their populations stable.

Perennials are versatile plants that grow well in formal plantings or simply in spaces that need color and vegetation. In large, vacant areas, grow wildflowers and self-sowing perennials to naturalize the space and create a colorful meadow that needs minimum upkeep. No matter where you plant them, healthy perennials and flowers are sure to be beautiful and beneficial additions to the garden.

The perennials and flowers listed below are excellent garden performers, selected for their showy blooms, lush growth and ability to withstand less-than-ideal conditions.

 

Delphinium Black Eyed Angels leads new flower varieties

Bluestone Perennials is known for its impressive selection of flowing perennials, and its new offerings for Spring 2013 are especially delightful. Delphinium Black Eyed Angels is a stunning new white-flowered variety with a small, dark “bee” in the center of each flower. The frilly double flowers stand on 3-4 foot tall stalks during the summer, and the plant is surprisingly heat resistant. Delphinium Black Eyed Angels is a butterfly and hummingbird magnet. Plants sell for $9.95 each.

Azalea Bollywood is a new variety with colorful flowers that would be right at home in a Bollywood movie. The glitzy neon-rose blooms are set against the perfect backdrop of leaves with cream-colored margins. This plant attracts hummingbirds during the growing season and stays evergreen during the cold season for year-round color. Plants sell for $14.95 each.

Echinacea Twilight is one of the best of the new wave of echinaceas that boast new colors and flower forms. Echinacea Twilight flower petals are a cross between a traditional pink and orange, the result of a crossing two Echinacea varieties, E. purpurea and E. paradoxa. This variety is heat and humidity tolerant, sturdy stemmed and fragrant. Plants sell for $12.95 each.

Bluestone Perennials now offers its entire line of plants all grown in 100% biodegradable containers made from coconut husk fibers (coir). The new coco pots are 2.5 times larger than the plastic pots that Bluestone had previously been using. Coco pots are biodegradable, so the pots can be planted directly into the ground and plants suffer minimal to no transplant shock.

To receive a free Bluestone Perennials catalog call (800) 852-5243 or visit www.bluestoneperennials.com.

 

Invite ‘Cleopatra’ Echinacea into your garden

For Spring 2013, Wayside Gardens has added more than 60 new plants to its already-impressive selection of flowering perennials. Cleopatra Echinacea Coneflower is named for the European butterfly Gonepteryx cleopatra because the flower’s petals are exactly the same shade of yellow as the butterfly. ‘Cleopatra’ is the brightest addition you can find for a sunny perennial border, with nonstop summer blooms that begin in early summer and continue all season. This radiant plant sets lemony yellow blooms by dozen all over compact plants just 15 to 18 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Bees and butterflies love the flowers. Cleopatra Echinacea Coneflower loves full sun and is cold hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. Plants sell for $16.95 each.

Another stunning new flowering perennial is ‘Pardon My Pink’ Bee Balm (Monarda didyma, which ushers in a new era for Bee Balm with a compact, heavy-blooming plant that demonstrates terrific resistance to powdery mildew. ‘Pardon My Pink’ sets full-size flowers on ultra-compact plants. Measuring 2½ to 3 inches wide, the brilliant pink blooms are magnets for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The blooms begin in midsummer and continue through the remainder of the season, topping the handsome, healthy dark green foliage on neat little plants just 10 to 12 inches high and not quite as wide. Plants sell for $14.95 each.

In addition to flowering perennials, Wayside Gardens offers roses, trees, shrubs, vines and climbers, bulbs and edibles. For more information about the new plants described above or the hundreds of plants available from Wayside Gardens, visit www.waysidegardens.com.

 

New ‘Sunfire’ water lily boasts color-changing blooms

Water gardeners with a new lily on their wish lists this season just got their wishes granted thanks to hybridizer Mike Giles. Nymphea ‘Sunfire’ is a prolific bloomer that can vary from shocking deep red-pink with orange center petals to hot red-pink with yellow center petals—or even almost all yellow or almost white. Soil, fertilizer, sun exposure, local climate and water conditions all contribute to the variations in flower color. As a result, no two plants will look exactly alike.

Sunfire is an excellent bloomer that starts early and blooms non-stop until most other lilies have long ago given up for the year. This medium-sized lily does well in cramped, low fertility conditions, so both novice and experienced water gardeners will enjoy its colorful blooms. The flowers tend to open more fully toward the fall and the colors don’t fade, making Sunfire a great late-season plant. Sunfire plants are $49 each, exclusively from Lilypons Water Gardens; www.lilypons.com, (800) 999-5459.