Guides by Season: Early Summer Guides
As climbers, Clematis are unsurpassed in their long flowering presence, their rich diversity of flower shapes, their wide array of colors and tolerances in terms of exposure and climate. Members of the Ranunculaceae family, Clematis include more than 300 species and hundreds of hybrids. They are divided into 12 groups.
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.
Lifting our spirits with their bright colors in the first months of the year, Primulas, also known as Primroses, belong to a huge genus of more than 430 species. Hardy, these cheerful perennials provide a wide range of sizes, shapes and come in almost every color imaginable. They range from tiny rock garden plants to statuesque candelabras.
Adored by florists and gardeners, Ranunculus asiaticus (Persian Buttercups) is a tuberous-rooted plant boasting brilliantly colored flowers adorned with multiple layers of delicate, crepe paper-thin petals. Native to Asia Minor, they produce masses of very long-lasting, single, double or frilled blossoms in a rainbow of gorgeous colors.
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.
An essential component of many bouquets thanks to their long vase life (over 3 weeks), Freesias are striking beauties that also deserve a spot outdoors. Visually stunning with their abundant clusters of brightly colored flowers on gently arching stalks, they are also intensely fragrant. Native to South Africa, these tender cormous perennials, often grown as annuals, require minimal maintenance, are virtually disease-free and pest-free, deer and rabbit resistant, and will multiply to form generous clumps over time - provided some basic rules are respected.
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.
The Large Flowering Amaryllis group is the most popular group with single flowers up to 8-10 in (20-25 cm). Their cultivars belong to the Galaxy group. Each bulb usually produces 2-3 stems and 4-6 flowers per stem. These exquisite Amaryllis tend to grow up to 18-24 in. tall (45-60 cm). Depending on temperature, they bloom 6-10 weeks after planting.
More and more popular, the Cybister Amaryllis are truly spectacular with their exotic, orchid-like flowers. They feature long, ribbon-like, spidery petals and splashes of bright color such as deep reds, soft green, copper, dark pink, creamy white and burgundy. They are unlike any other Amaryllis group and their cultivars belong to the Spider group.
Most gardeners are unaware of the wide range of characteristics offered by Malus species and their cultivars in terms of flower color, fragrance, fruit color, fruit retention, fall foliage, tree shape, and disease resistance. These are key elements to consider when selecting a flowering crabapple. Consequently, you should not eliminate varieties merely by flower color alone, or you may end up with a less than optimum tree with limited interest.
Appealing to most gardeners, Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) are rhizomatous or tuberous perennials with heart-shaped flowers dangling in arching panicles or racemes above attractively divided leaves. Shade tolerant, they bloom over a long season, extending from late spring to early fall, in cooler climates. In hotter climates, flowering will usually stop in the heat of the summer, but may start again when the weather cools in late summer or early fall. Beautiful in leaf as soon as they sprout, they quickly add their charming blooms and make elegant additions to the garden when combined with other shade-loving perennials.
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