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Gazette Gardener: As garden year winds down, readers ask about spring

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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I can tell from your e-mails that you are starting to plan next year’s gardens. Here are a few of the questions I have received lately that I thought would be helpful to many people as they begin perusing the garden catalogs and thinking about what they might add next season.

“I want a blue and white garden and need recommendations on what to plant.” That was a question from a reader in Schenectady.

Let’s get to it. For a white garden, also called a moon garden because of the way the blooms reflect light, consider any of the following: bell flower, candytuft, columbine, delphiniums, lilies, phlox, Shasta daisies, tulips, cosmos, dahlias, petunias, snapdragons and zinnias.

For blue, which in the world of flowers includes shades of purple, think about baptisia, bellflowers, bugloss, centaureas, cornflower, larkspur, delphinium, forget-me-not, iris, phlox, speedwell, ageratum, asters, salvias, lobelias, pansies and petunias.

There are more, but this will get you started.

Q: I need suggestions to extend the bloom in my perennial border. I have a lot in bloom in June, but not too much in early spring. By late summer, the garden is dominated by black-eyed Susans. My goal is to have a succession of bloom. Any ideas?

A: Count on bulbs for the start of the season, particularly crocus and daffodils. There are diverse color options, even for daffodils, including whites. Hellebores, snowdrops and winter aconite are three more blooming perennials for early season.

Tulips also add color at this time. However, I hesitate to suggest them because wildlife — squirrels and deer — consider them a culinary delight, often nipping off the heads just when you are anticipating the bloom. Alliums are a good choice if deer are a problem.

The next group to flower in my garden are the grape hyacinths, tiarellas, lungwort and primrose followed by bleeding heart, sweet rocket, peonies, meadow rue and squills. In early to mid-summer, roses, balloon flower, coreopsis, day lilies, delphiniums, foxglove, gaillardia, gas-plant, hollyhocks, lilies and daisies provide an attractive show. These are followed by butterfly weed, cardinal flower, day lilies, evening primrose, phlox, hydrangeas. With these, I plant a lot of annuals as they are workhorses from early season to frost. Some suggestions would be marigolds, zinnias and petunias in the sun and coleus, caladiums and impatiens in the shade.

By late summer, look to cardinal flower, chrysanthemums, Joe-Pye weed, turtlehead and asters for color along with black-eyed Susans. Consider grasses like the golden Hakone grass for another texture. By the way, this grass looks lovely with black-eyed Susans. Mix in some tall, airy, and graceful cleome, cosmos or verbena bonariensis. And if you need a very-long bloom period, look at Hydrangeas, which bloom from July to frost.

In autumn, the fall blooming clematis looks lovely and provide billowing white flowers along the fence. Chrysanthemums, sedums, gentians, asters, Japanese anemones, monkshood, toadflax and dahlias are in their glory. And certain annuals, such as the sweet alyssum, nasturiums, snapdragons and petunias will continue to work hard and bloom until frost.

Q: What will grow in poorly drained soils? I need flowers and a few suggestions for shrubs and trees.

A: If the water lingers after a rain but does drain, plants like bee balm, cardinal flowers, ferns, forget-me-nots, Helenium and turtlehead would grow well. For shrubs and trees, look at the pussy willow, willow tree, Tamarack and black spruce. If there is lingering or standing water, you might want to consider a pond or putting in drainage.

Happy Gardening.

 
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