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.
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.
Prized for its delightful fragrance, Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac) is a mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates. Easy to grow, tough as nails, deer resistant and relatively free from major pests, Common Lilacs are one of the most effective flowering shrubs. Tailored to meet the needs of all gardens, this species counts 2000 cultivars.
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.
When days grow short and winds blow cold, indoor flowers go a long way to warm the heart and cheer the soul. The easiest and most rewarding bulbs you can grow, Paperwhites are amazingly fragrant daffodils that are perfect for producing flowers in a short period of time when grown indoors. Hailing from the temperate shores of the southeastern Mediterranean, these bright, peppery-scented bulb flowers are not winter hardy. However, in warm climates (zones 8-11) with hot, dry summers, paperwhite bulbs can be planted outside where they will bloom annually for many years. Paperwhites are members of the daffodil family, Narcissus tazetta.
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in grass, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), squills (Scilla), checkered lilies (Fritillaria meleagris) and plenty others charming bulbs. Left undisturbed in the ground, they will emerge again every spring, but will also gently multiply as long as they receive the right light conditions and are planted in soil with the proper drainage.
Flowering bulbs look appealing when planted under garden trees. However, planting any bulbs beneath trees is not always successful because of the dense shade cast by the trees, the competition with their roots and the lack of moisture under these trees. If a tree competes with bulbs for light, water or nutrients, the tree always wins.
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns, prairies or meadows in spring. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. What could be better?
The tall Alliums in particular are very impressive when towering up above lower-growing plants or ground covers. They are definitely displayed at their loveliest when placed among perennial plants in the border. Their leaves, which are usually not very attractive and which also wither back quickly after flowering, will then be hidden beneath the leaves of the perennial plants.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Echeverias are regarded by many as one of the most beautiful succulents. Evergreen, they form attractive rosettes of fleshy leaves and often resemble plum-petaled roses, waterlilies or ruffled lettuce. There are dozens of species, and hundreds of cultivars offering a wide array of colors, sizes or leaf shapes.
There are 20 different Snowdrop species and several hundreds of hybrids. Yes, several hundreds (!). The craze known as Galanthophilia has swept through the ranks of gardening enthusiasts in the past few years. While all snowdrops look the same to the uninitiated - dainty, nodding white flowers, with a dab of green, held on a thin arching stalk at the end of a thicker stem - they reveal their differences when you take a closer look.
Robust and hardy, Ipheion (Spring Starflower) are small bulbous perennials with lovely star-shaped, sweet violet scented flowers borne on long slender scapes in mid to late spring. Blooming for up to 8 weeks, the dainty blossoms rise atop a cushion of narrow, pale, delicate and grass-like leaves. Regarded to be one of the easiest bulbs to grow
Native to North America, Camassias (Camas) are bulbous perennials with long racemes of up to 100 star-shaped flowers, adorned with six slender loose petals, a green center and bright yellow stamens. The flowers vary in color from pale lilac or white to deep purple or blue-violet. Borne on stout, willowy stems, they open sequentially from bottom to top for a long lasting display.
Tall and graceful, Siberian Irises (Iris sibirica) are among the most trouble-free and low maintenance perennials in the garden. The choice of available Siberian Iris cultivars varies from country to country, but a few of these beauties have won the prestigious Morgan Award, the highest award reserved exclusively for Siberian Irises within the American Iris Society.
Noted for their charming flowers and long flowering displays, Campanulas (Bellflowers) are a classic choice for beds and borders in cottage gardens or rock gardens where they bring great effect. Campanula is a massive genus including more than 300 species of mostly perennials, but also some annuals and biennials. They are one of the treasures of the gardening world because of their diverse habit and bold flowers.
Vigorous, Syringa x hyacinthiflora are early-flowering hybrids between Syringa oblata (Early Lilac) and Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac). Exceptionally hardy, these terrific shrubs reward us with an abundance of exquisitely scented flowers in mid spring, about 7-10 days earlier than common lilacs. But this is not their only charm. Their foliage often colors up to shades of red, purple and gold in fall, extending their season of interest. As an added bonus, they are highly resistant to powdery mildew, unlike many other lilac varieties. Easy to grow, Hyacinth Lilacs are low-maintenance shrubs that will grow and flower profusely without much attention. They should be on every gardener’s list.
A lilac in full bloom, with its heavenly fragrance, is a breathtaking sight. A mainstay of the spring landscape in northern and colder climates, lilacs are one of the most effective flowering shrubs. Easy to grow, tough as nails, deer resistant and relatively free from major pests, these hardy shrubs have been tailored to meet the needs of all gardens, including small gardens. There are now lilacs that rarely grow more than 3-4 ft. (90-120 cm) tall, which makes them suitable plants for small gardens and containers.
While extraordinarily good-looking on their own during their blooming season, Lilacs do not add much sparkle during the rest of the growing season. To extend their season of interest, they need companion plants that will provide color against the green foliage of the midsummer lilacs. Well-behaved, they make perfect partners with other shrubs or perennials and help create strikingly beautiful combinations in the garden.
Prized for their long season of interest and easy care, Caryopteris (Bluebeard, Blue Mist, or Blue Spirea) are terrific deciduous shrubs with fragrant true blue flowers in late summer and fall. Attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects, they add a welcomed splash of color in the late season garden when few other shrubs are in bloom. As valuable as the flowers, their dense foliage of aromatic leaves is also one of their great attributes, adding interest from the time they appear in spring until frost. Superb additions to most sunny garden settings, Bluebeards can also fit small spaces and containers. One of the best small shrubs for late color, they are worth repeating several times over in a border to give a strong fall effect.
Rock gardens offer the perfect home for an extensive array of plants including evergreens, deciduous shrubs, perennials, annuals, and flowering bulbs. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in rock gardens, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), wild tulips (Tulipa), miniature daffodils (Narcissus) and plenty others charming bulbs. The following list of perennial bulbs thrive in rock garden conditions and you will be delighted to see them every spring or fall.
Narcissus (Daffodils) are among the easiest bulbs to grow and regarded as some of the most valuable spring bulbs for the South. Long lived, they naturalize and multiply year after year. Versatile, they offer a fascinating array of flower forms, sizes, and colors. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year.