Many gardeners shy away from using perennials in the summer, choosing instead to supply color in the garden through the use of annual plant material. I, on the other hand, have a rule for my home garden – no annuals. I like the fact that perennials, while initially somewhat more expensive to purchase, will return for multiple seasons and will also multiply to give me additional plant material to expand my own garden or to trade with gardening friends. So, how does one maintain a colorful garden throughout the summer months? Here are some suggestions.
During the early half of the summer, Daylilies can provide a great deal of color. Choose several varieties so that they can bloom over a longer period of time, or you can add rebloomers like Stella de Oro. Since the foliages are so similar, the entire group can be planted together. Remove the spent blooms and any browning foliage by hand, and enjoy the show.
Pictured above are Daylilies mixed with other summer perennials, and hosta in the background.
Numerous salvias, also called sages, are available that are classified as perennial in our climate zone. We have had good success here in the park with both Flame and Hot Lips. But don’t think you are limited to reds if you’re planting salvias. I have a section of ‘Black and Blue’ at home that has wonderful bright green leaves, deeply colored blue flowers and a black stem. I have them planted where I can enjoy the fragrance of the leaves several times a day as I pass by. This plant is also known for attracting hummingbirds as well.
A hummingbird visits my 'Black and Blue' salvias in my yard.
If you have shade, hostas can create a stunning display. Locate a vendor that offers more than the usual varieties and you will be pleasantly surprised at all the options available. Some that I find most intriguing are those with oversized leaves - if only my yard were bigger. In any case, the foliage colors and varieties will give you a great deal to work with in shady or partly-shady garden spaces.
How do you liven up your garden space with color? Do you prefer annuals over perennials – if so, why?