By George Lohmiller
After a long winter and late-in-the-season snows, spring is finally here! Crocus and other early flowering bulbs are already in bloom and the swollen yellow buds of forsythia promise an abundance of bright showy flowers.
April, May, and the first part of June are ablaze with the pink and white blossoms of crabapples, cherries and dogwoods, and the air is sweetly perfumed from the dependable fragrance of reliable standbys such as lilacs and mock orange. But where do we go from here? In the excitement of spring activity, let’s not forget to be planning ahead so that we can enjoy flowers and garden color well into the fall and even winter months.
Let’s look at some perennials. For late spring and early summer there are many iris varieties ranging in a rainbow of colors from white and yellow to dark purple. For a unique specimen, try Golden Zebra. A combination of golden and purple zebra-like petals create exotic blooms that resemble a rare orchid. Plant these pint-sized show-offs in front of taller iris for a unique layered look. Other early summer charmers are peony, salvia, and poppy.
Many perennials offer season-long flowering. A favorite of mine are the reblooming daylilies. A top choice is “Stella D’oro, a dwarf variety with bright golden-yellow flowers that smile until frost. Other repeat bloomers are the deep pink “Miss Quinn’s World”, “Pardon Me” with red flowers and a yellow throat, and “Pandora’s Box”, sporting white flowers with a purple eye.
There are many tree and shrubs that flower in seasons other than spring. “White Lights”, “Lollipop” (light pink), “Lemon Drop (yellow) and “Popsicle” (coral) are all summer blooming azaleas.
There are myriad spireas that are summer bloomers too: “Gold Mound”, with pink flowers and yellow leaves blooms in June and July. “Anthony Waterer” displays flat pink flowers from June well into August, as does the more compact Froebelii.
For a shrub with continuous summer bloom try the many varieties of yellow, white and pink potentilla.
Late blooming trees include “Seven-Son Flower”, a 15’-20’ specimen that produces white flowers from September until frost, “Mackia” that grows to 30’ and displays delicate creamy, fresh-smelling flowers in late summer, and one of my most cherished plants, “The Franklin Tree”. Plant it in a protected spot and the reward will be masses of striking 3”-wide camellia like fragrant flowers that often bloom along with its fiery red-orange autumn foliage.
While most winter flowers are confined to vases and greenhouses, one tough native shrub actually blooms from February through March – the Witch Hazel. “Arnold Promise” is an improved variety that makes a great eye-catcher against a winter snow. The fragrant flowers are extremely showy, since leaves aren’t yet present. Soon after they fade, it’s time for spring again.