Planning for perennials

Now is a great time to visit your local garden shops.

  • Apr. 16, 2012 6:00 p.m.
Planning for perennials

Today, the interest in and use of perennials in our gardens is phenomenal. They are a wonderful garden investment, but many folks are missing out on their ability to provide colour almost year round.

Perennials should be used to create a continuous flow of colour throughout the year, and by selecting combinations that include evergreen foliage, long-blooming plants and varieties that bloom at specific times, perennials can provide that lift we all need, even in the winter months.

We should also be using them in combination with other flowering shrubs and conifers for a knock-out showing.

The idea is to have not only continuous colour, but also stunning highlights all through our gardens.

The traditional plantings of white arabis (Rockcress), purple aubrieta and yellow Saxatile alyssum, still remain the most outstanding colour combination for early spring.

These plants are ideal as a low ground cover or as border plants.

They also work well in flower beds.

To accent these plantings and to keep the colour going, try using heucheras with their rich purple, hot lime, tan and orange foliage, the new bergenias, like Bressingham Ruby or the hot new evergreen euphorbias with their stunning foliage and chartreuse flowers spikes that last for weeks.

Dwarf Iris pumilias do not flower for more than a few weeks, but they are one of the most delightful early spring perennials.

Reaching only six to eight inches in height, this unique early-flowering iris makes a fine ground cover, and it often flowers again in late fall. Available in white, purple, yellow and blue, and used in combination plantings, it is a real knockout.

Surround these irises with silver wooly thyme for an absolute stunning display.

Iberis, (Candytuft) is one of the more outstanding white flowering early perennials. Here again, the varieties from cuttings are far superior to the seedling varieties.

Growing only six inches in height, these plants smother the ground in a carpet of white for at least a month.

Used as a combination plant with deep red heathers like Nathalie or Kramer’s Red and for later colour, Hino Crimson Japanese azaleas, both create long lasting and beautiful displays in an early spring garden. Surround them with low-growing, colourful conifers, like Thuja Rheingold for an even more beautiful show or the very dark foliaged heucheras like H. Obsidian to create a wow display.

Pulmonarias are one of the forgotten garden heroes that we need to rediscover.

Our grandmothers grew these plants, but somehow we lost interest.

Today’s new varieties have stunning silver, mildew-free foliage that will liven up any shady or morning sun garden location.

They are evergreen, and as a backdrop for the blue colouring of early crocuses, grape hyacinths and scillas, they are pure magic.

Look for varieties like P. longifolia, Majeste, David Ward, Excalibur and Baby Blue Eyes.

Originating in Turkey, omphaloide is a hardy, beautiful, low-spreading perennial with stunning blue flowers.

Omphaloide Cherry Ingram blooms at the same time as Star magnolias. Blue omphaloides and pure white Star magnolias make a stunning display in any garden.

There are many other early-flowering perennials that are unique.

Now is a great time to visit your local garden shops to see some of the old reliables, as well as a host of new and interesting perennials.

The secret to bringing your garden alive is to blend all your plants into exciting combinations of foliage and flowers that will add interest all year round.

Brian Minter is a master gardener who operates Minter Gardens in Chilliwack.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry. (File photos)
SIMPSON: Enough with the niceties, it’s time Canada pulls some COVID attitude

Urging and encouraging pandemic strategies may be polite but it’s just not cutting it

Surrey farmland (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Hey Surrey, don’t squash the squashes

Clearly more respect for other peoples’ property and livelihood is in order here

Seaquam Secondary student Martin Tang has been selected as a 2021 Loran Scholar, joining a cohort of 30 from across Canada. The Loran Award, valued at $100,000, includes annual stipends, tuition waivers from 25 universities, access to funding for summer work experiences, one-on-one mentorship, and annual retreats and gatherings. (Submitted photos)
North Delta student chosen as 2021 Loran Scholar

Seaquam’s Martin Tang one of 30 students across Canada to receive $100,000 Loran Award

White Rock's popularity as a destination places it in a difficult position in ensuring provincial health orders are followed, Coun. David Chesney said, asking that staff obtain impartial input from both Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health before further measures are debated. (File photo)
Waterfront pandemic issues vex White Rock council

Overcrowding, extra garbage the downside of take-out business

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

An unidentified B.C. man said he was refused the job after refusing to wear a mask when asked by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

‘To cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe,’ the worker claimed

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Tagged grey whale off Vancouver Island given treatment after developing lesions

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Most Read