Ten Traditional Perennials for Summer long colour

New and exciting Perennials readily make the glossy pages of Gardening magazines for their latest colour strains or fashion trends! But what about the good traditional perennials that have stood the test of time?

In 2016 we are likely to spend even more money on Gardening than in previous years and whilst only a small proportion of this money is spent on perennials, it still amounts to a considerable sum.

So to set you on the right track here are my top 10 favourite flowering perennials that are guaranteed to perform for many years.

No: 1 Libertia grandiflora

As the name suggests grand indeed. Largely overlooked and out of favour, this robust grass like perennial has stood the test of time and flowers continuously from mid- May to almost late July. Pure virgin white flowers stand aloft stiff green upright grassy green leaves that provide the perfect support for the robust flower stem housing multiple branched flower heads.

Come the Autumn your Libertia has a second offering as once the hard green berries left behind after flowering ripen they adopt some interesting shades of Autumn and if left to fresh ripen, provide a plentiful supply of easy to grow seed.

Whilst this plant is a sure fire winner in any full sun, free draining soil like many of the  plants in the Iridaceae family. Libertia prefer a free-draining soil and it is a good idea to save some of that bountiful seed to grow new plants replacing any plants that become old and woody.

Geum Mrs Bradshaw with Allium

No: 2 Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ 

Gem’s can be dainty and delicate or  loud and proud like the semi-double frilled, shocking orangery red of G. ‘Mrs Bradshaw’. Commonly referred to as Avens. Gems are found across Europe and Asia varying in climate from waterside to alpine making the genus very adaptable and versatile for garden plantings.

No: 3 Astrantia ‘Hadspen Blood’

There is no denying that I am indeed a big fan of the genus Astrantia, enjoying a mini-revival over the last few years, we have seen lot’s of new strains and cultivars enter the marketplace. A. Hadspen Blood is such a dramatic burgundy rich example of an almost everlasting flower that I had to include it in my top ten for summer long colour.

sidalcea igrowhort

No: 4 Sidalcea ‘Party Girl’

Selected for it’s bright vivd pink flowers that vary in intensity, Sidalcea ‘Party Girl’ will bring fun and variety to any herbaceous border. Preferring a soil that retains moisture during the growing season the relative of the Hollyhock has bold upright stems that are adorned with a multitude of pink flowers with white centres.

Plant Sidalcea in large groups for a stunning display compliments well with Nepeta, Salvia and Verbena for Summer long colour or works well in a mixed border with David Austin roses and scented Lavender.

No: 5 Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

You cannot beat Salvia for durability and masses of long flowering spikes of aromatic flowers and leaves. If your fortunate enough to have borders in full sun that are free draining even during the winter months then Salvia’s will thrive in your garden.

Direct sunlight is a must for the Salvia, enhancing the almost overpowering sage scent typically associated with Salvia’s as you brush, past or bruise the leaves or stems. Attracting bees and pollinators probably best to avoid planting Salvia’s near a front door or window, instead allowing the bees and butterflies to feed unhindered by foot traffic. Plant with Artemisia, Nepeta and Heuchera for summer long interest.

No: 6 Geranium ‘Patrica’

Hardy Geraniums have to be my all time favourite Genera, beating all other perennials hand down my love of hardy geraniums knows no bounds. That said I do of course have my real winners amongst such diverse group of flowering perennials, so much so I had to write about my top ten hardy geraniums.

G. Patrica is a long flowering  perfect example of a G. psilostemon/endressii hybrid producing a neater sprawling habit with the same stunning magenta flowers with almost black central splashes that bleed veins across the inner part of each petal.

No: 7 Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’

Fashions and trends will come and go but plants will always continue to grow, flower and set seed as part of an annual ritual that we seem to forget. After all a plant only become common because popularity has allowed them to become widespread, seen in many gardens used in many different ways.

Rudbeckia is one such plant that if used correctly can shake off it’s almost tacky label and instead become a noteworthy plant that has a long flowering period and very few problems.

Lychnis chalcedonica igrowhort

No:8 Lychnis chalcedonica

I remember this strong herbaceous perennial from my teenage years, I was always fascinated by the hairy stems and the tight cluster of flower heads as it begin to unfurl and show it’s intense scarlet colours.

N0:9 Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’

My top ten could not be complete without an Aster and there’s no doubt there are a lot of varieties to choose from. Aster’s come in all shapes and sizes but taking maintenance and flowering season into consideration my favourite and all rounder has to be Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’. Good for mid to front of the border this Aster will be happy scrambling through stems of birch or hazel for a little support, grows well alongside Hosta and Astrantia edged with Ajuga or Persicaria affinis.

Monarda igrowhort

No: 10 Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’

Fluted scarlet red flowers from the long flowering tufts of bee balm attract a whole host of pollinators to your garden. A robust herbaceous perennial that deserves a sunny location in your well draining mixed borders. I love to combine the fun Monarda flowers with the golden yellows of Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’ and the lavender purple of Aster x frikatii ‘Monch’

Gardeners amongst you will know that limiting plant choices to just ten of my favourite perennials is extremely difficult, not least because within the top ten there are often 10’s of 100’s of varieties and cultivars to select from. I hope you enjoy my ten perennials for summer-long colour and that you also find my ten perennials for early spring, late autumn and winter colour of interest.

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About Head Gardener 287 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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