Planned, Wild, and Free

Many herbaceous and woody perennials are growing again. It’s a time to celebrate plants that have broken dormancy in the fall and winter drought conditions. Likely, we will find gaps in the flowerbeds, and local greenhouses have many options.

Don Engebretson, design writer for the Northern Gardener magazine, is quoted in an article in the June issue for his guidance on choosing plants. “Leaves are the primary design feature of any landscape. While flowers are fleeting, leaves are here from April through October.”  He applied the concept to planning all plants in the yard. The article gives tips for choosing plants for the yard and garden:

Consider the color of leaves and flowers first.

Choose a variety of upright and horizontal plant shapes.

Vary sizes of plants and leaves.

Contrast delicate foliage and bold leaf textures.

In this light shade, perennial flowerbed, lime-leafed bleeding hearts contrast with the darker green hellebore that bloomed in April with upright daffodils. The Silver Heart Brunnera with white leaves and delicate blue flowers are a texture and size contrast to the other plants.

Blue flowers, a favorite and rarer in perennials, are found in Storm Cloud Amsonia that grow well in this region. Woody purple smokebush, a tall contrasting shrub, begins to leaf out. 

With its fine leaf texture, the woody false spirea pairs well with many perennials and is a fern substitute with cut flowers in a vase indoors. Most yards will have examples of plants in the yard to illustrate the tips for choosing plants. Additional gardening challenges to planning what plants to select for the flowerbed include their placement with sun, shade, and other growing conditions. This false spirea grows well in protected light shade.

The wild bumblebees are at work in allium blooms. Near frost conditions and warming days have slowed the pollinator for an action shot.

The naturalized, free blooming Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) in this wooded area may have been planted many years ago. The mustard relative herb is prolific in seed production. Dame’s rocket is one of the seeds included in some “wildflower mix” packages. The biennial or short-lived perennial re-seeds widely. Hesperis is native of Eurasia and was brought to North America in the 17th century and is now grows freely in roadside ditches, deserted farms, and woodlands in the United States and Canada. Other species of Hesperis that adapt well to the region and seed less freely may be preferred by some gardeners.

Thanks for the chance to show you the range of planned, wild, and free thought as the season gets underway at Plant Exchange Blog. We hope to see you again as we post weekly. Happy planting!  

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