Garden tip from The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer by Stephanie Cohen and Nacy J. Ondra, soft cover, Storey Publishing, $24.95
Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra generously share both their passion and their knowledge about garden design in this book. Their encouraging words, based on practical experience and the belief that there is more than one right way to create a garden, boost confidence and promote experimentation.
Cottage Garden Classics for Sun
If gardening is your ruling passion, you don’t like just looking at plants: you want to be surrounded by them. And that’s what a cottage garden is all about — creating a space that you can really live in, with flowers to pick, herbs and vegetables to harvest, fruits to feast upon and abundant color and fragrance to fill your senses. These beautiful and bountiful plantings are the ultimate in user-friendly gardens. Here is a sampling of cottage garden classics for sun:
Flat-topped clusters of bright or pastel blooms are produced all through the summer over clumps of fernlike leaves. ‘Anthea’ and ‘Moonshine’ have pale yellow blooms and gray-green leaves; ‘Anthea’ seems to have better heat and humidity tolerance. Both are 18 to 14 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
Antemis tinctoria ‘Moonlight’ (‘Moonlight’ golden marguerite)
These bushy, 2-foot-tall and -wide clumps of aromatic, deeply divided, medium-green leaves showcase light yellow to near white, gold-centered daisies through the summer (especially with deadheading).
Centranthus ruber (Red valerian, a.k.a. Jupiter’s beard)
Upright to gently sprawling stems are clad in somewhat fleshy green leaves and sport clusters of small, rosy pink flowers from late spring to early fall (with regular deadheading); 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. ‘Albus’ has white flowers.
Mound-forming perennials with narrow green leaves are practically smothered in flat-faced, daisy-like blooms in early to midsummer; will repeat bloom well into fall if deadheaded.
‘Sweet Dreams’ grows 12 to 18 inches tall and wide, with pale pink blooms that have a darker pink ring near the center.
C. verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ is 18 to 24 inches tall and wide, with butter-yellow blooms: ‘Zagreb’ is about the same size but has golden-yellow flowers.
Dianthus (a.k.a. pinks)
Clumps of slender, green or blue-green leaves look good all year, with single, semi-double or double flowers usually mid- to late spring, sometimes with repeat bloom later in the season. ‘Firewitch’ has magenta-pink flowers; ‘Little Boy Blue’ has white blossoms with pink centers. Both have silvery blue foliage and single flowers; height to 6 inches and spread to 1 foot.
Dictamnus albus (Gas plant, a.k.a. burning bush or dittany)
Spike-like clusters of white or pinkish flowers bloom in early summer over clumps of deep-green leaves; to 2 feet tall and wide.
Digitalis purpurea ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ (‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxglove)
Rosettes of green leaves reach 1 foot tall and 1 to 2 feet wide, with 3- to 5-foot stems topped with spikes of tubular, light peachy pink blooms in late spring or early summer. Best treated as a biennial.
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ ('Grosso' lavender, a.k.a. lavandin)
Dense, shrubby clumps of fragrant, narrow, silvery green leaves are accented with plump, fragrant flower spikes atop 2- to 3-foot stems from early summer to early fall; spread is 2 feet. (Excellent winter drainage is a must.)
Pictured above: Centranthus ruber (Red valerian, a.k.a. Jupiter’s beard)