Guides: Informal and Cottage
Many tulips are not strongly perennial and their floral display tends to decline from season to season. They bloom well the first year, but then peter out after a couple of years. But if you select the right tulip varieties, plant them in the right spot and provide the proper care, you can be rewarded with a magnificent spring display year after year.
There are 17 Hellebore species. Most are native to the mountainous regions of Europe, especially the Balkan region of the former Yugoslavia, south along the eastern Adriatic to Greece and Turkey. Many of the species have been interbred, producing countless hybrid Hellebores in a rich array of colors and forms.
Among the first shrubs to bloom in late winter to early spring, Flowering Quinces (Chaenomeles) are deciduous shrubs that are welcomed additions to the winter garden. They boast abundant clusters of charming, apple-blossom shaped flowers in cheerful shades of delicate pink, rich vermilion, coral red and pure white.
Fuchsias are not so fragile beauties. Some are quite hardy and can withstand temperatures down to -10ºF (-23ºC) and grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 6. They are useful in permanent plantings, adding vibrant pockets of summer color and showing up particularly well against dark evergreen shrubs. They are perfect to light up a dull, shady border.
From fall into winter, crabapples put on a terrific display of colorful fruit in a wide array of color, including pale lime, chartreuse with yellow highlights, various shades of gold often rouged with pink, orange or bright red cheeks, bright orange, crimson, carmine, burgundy or even bishop's purple. If persistent, their color parade can be enjoyed for months unless hungry birds feast on them.
Real eye-catchers in the garden, Gladiolus, also known as sword lilies, are cormous perennials boasting incredibly spectacular spikes of funnel-shaped flowers in summer in a surprisingly wide range of colors. Borne atop attractive fans of sword-shaped or linear leaves, they always provide a dramatic effect with their rich and cheerful colors and their breathtaking vertical lines.
Ceanothus, commonly known as California Lilac, offers almost everything a gardener could wish for in a shrub: free-flowering, lovely foliage, ease of cultivation, drought and salt tolerance. Fast growing, these desirable shrubs draw attention with their stunning blue, white or pink flowers. When a California Lilac bursts into bloom, it is a breathtaking sight to behold.
Mostly native to the U.S. and Canada, Asclepias include over 100 species of evergreen or deciduous perennials adorned with clusters of small, interestingly shaped blooms that are irresistible to butterflies. Attractive and easy to grow, they shine in many perennial gardens and are a key component of butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, or prairies and meadows.
Attractive, Sea Holly plants (Eryngium) are striking ornamental perennials grown for their arresting, thistle-like, silvery or blue tinted flower heads adorned with a ruff of showy bracts. Blooming in summer and sometimes into fall, they are useful in rock gardens, coastal gardens and in borders where their steel blue flowers and foliage complement the vibrantly colored summer flowers.
Their flowers are incredibly large, 6-10 in. across (15-25 cm). Star-shaped, they may be single, semi-double or double and are available in a wide range of colors. They usually bloom in two waves. They bloom in late spring or early summer on the previous year's growth. They often repeat blooming in late summer and early fall on new wood.
Native to Japan and Korea, Hydrangea serrata (Mountain Hydrangea) is a deciduous shrub of rounded habit with delicate lacecap flowers with flattened clusters from early to late summer. Reminiscent of the Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), it is however more refined in habit and its flowers and leaves are smaller. Borne in great quantity, the elegant blossoms of some cultivars have the wonderful habit of changing color 3 to 4 times per season.
While all Japanese Maples are beautiful and provide a fabulous architectural presence, in the garden or in containers, some enjoy particularly outstanding features such as dramatic foliage, long-lasting striking leaf color, unusual leaf shape or striking winter bark. The eye can never pass lightly over the dazzling color presented by their flaming foliage across seasons or the graceful outlines of their brilliant coral twigs and branches.
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