Orchestrating a constant bloom in your perennial garden is like conducting a symphony in slow motion. It takes timing, planning and practice. Even with all of your hard work and planning you must defer to Mother Nature’s hand in making your perennial garden surprisingly different every year.
The infamous Ellen Biddle Shipman was the original landscape architect for the mansion gardens at the Knox Estate. There are only remnants of her original plantings, but her vision lives on in the Secret Garden. Her philosophy of constant bloom time will be present every time the Garden Club revitalizes a garden around the mansion.
Staging the performance
Perennial bloom times my last 2 weeks, one month or even all summer long. Knowing when and how long they will bloom is crucial to knowing how to coordinate their performance and the masterpiece of your garden.
Spring Bloomers tend to emerge from bulbs (but not always) are quick and fantastically colorful. They are the stark contrast of a long winter and the excitement of renewal. After their crescendo of hues they will die back leaving only exhausted dead heads and washed out foliage.
Early Summer Bloomers
Early Summer Bloomers are a grateful sight as the spring flowers fade and start to die off. The Spring Bloomer’s dead foliage needs to be clipped away and made less noticeable so the Early Summer and Summer Bloomers can take center stage. This may be a time for the spring perennials to be split if they have become too large or didn’t flower well because of crowding.
Each type of perennial has an optimal splitting time and process, so be sure to know which variety you are dealing with before you begin separating them. Creating more light and room for the Summer Bloomers to emerge is a great way to see what is coming next and what may need to be filled in.
Blackeyed Susan and Shasta Daisy
Late Summer Bloomers
Garden Phlox and Rose of Sharon
Fall Bloomers are the Finale. When the crisp air moves in at night and the smell of campfires are wafting thru the breeze, clumps of Hardy Mums in tight balls of colors are expected. Pumpkin and Fire Engine Red colors are dominant in the Fall foliage and in the garden blooms. Clipping back the Summer Blooms that have passed will reveal the final act.
Autumn Joy and Hardy Mums
All-Summer Bloomers create an ongoing tempo in your garden. They are the ones who don’t give up. They have the energy to bloom from Early Summer through Late Summer.
Coneflower and Coreopsis
Annuals are the Chorus
Combining Annuals to fill in any pause in your gardens flowering is especially useful when you haven’t completely mastered the orchestration of your perennial garden or you have had to move and split your perennials and have created gaps. Like the All-Summer Bloomers these will give you flowers all summer long that will grow to their full potential in one season. You will only get one season out of them but you will get quick and full maturity as well as optimal bloom from May to September.
The Knox Estate Garden Club is in it’s first year. We are dedicated to understanding the original designs of Ellen Biddle Shipman for this property and doing our best to work within that framework. This first year is important in journaling what is currently in the gardens and when they bloom. We are doing this through the blog that is produced weekly. Please follow our progress at knoxgc.wordpress.com (go to the bottom of the page and follow us by entering your email address).
Perennial gardening with a philosophy of constant bloom time is a faithful and steady endeavor.
Donna H. Reilly