Let's talk for a minute about season-long color using perennials. . .
Earliest spring perennials begin with bulbs that are planted in the fall such as tulips, crocus, daffodils and hyacinths. Add to these Basket of Gold, a breathtaking, low growing mound that is covered with small, brilliant yellow flowers. Rock cress blooms in pink and white, cascadeing over walls and borders, as does creeping phlox. Candy Tuft is also a low growing, cascading perennial that is covered with masses of white blooms, beginning very early and lasting into June. Candy Tuft, Rock Cress, and Creeping Phlox all spread and can be used as ground covers and are excellent in rock gardens. Other early spring perennials include Forget-Me-Not, Bleeding Heart, Snow in Summer, violets and vinca, which is sometimes called myrtle or periwinkle. Late spring into summer bloomers include Columbine, Pinks, Poppies of all kinds, Lupine, Salvia, Spiderwort, Astilbe, Peonies, and many others. Except for the Peonies, cutting these early spring and summer perennials back after their bloom period is over will encourage fresh growth and will probably bring on a second wave of bloom. Mid summer perennials include Flea Bane, a bright blue daisy that blooms for a month or more, white Shasta Daisies, Gloriosa Daisies, Delphiniums and Foxglove, Hollyhocks, Cranesbill, as well as many others. A surprising number of perennials begin to bloom in early summer and continue on to frost. These valuable varieties include Tick Seed, a yellow daisy; Blanket Flower, also called Gaillardia, comes in yellow, yellow and orange, and burgundy. Stella D'Oro Daylilies will bloom from early summer to frost, as will Bell Flowers, Red Hot Poker, Missouri and Mexican Primrose, Marguerite Daisies, and others. Complete your season of bloom with varieties that flower from mid to late summer clear until frost, including garden mums, asters, Autumn Joy Sedum, Bee Balm, yarrow, dahlias, Purple Cone Flower, and Russian Sage. Planting annuals among your perennials, especially in vivid blocks of color, will really set your perennials off and give you true season long color.