Magazine article Sunset

Summer Color Standouts for Intermountain Gardens

Magazine article Sunset

Summer Color Standouts for Intermountain Gardens

Article excerpt


These flowering perennials take heat in stride

It's easy to have a knockout garden in late spring and early summer, but once the heat hits, things tend to get tired and dull. So make it a point to celebrate summer by planting perennials that save their best show for July and August.

First, consider your garden's exposure and watering regime, then select plants that will thrive in those conditions. Choose colors and textures that please you and play well off each other. Combine flowers with contrasting shapes, such as bold daylilies with delicate Gaura lindheimeri, or round coneflowers with spiky liatris. Include a smattering of plants with interesting foliage such as artemisia, lamb's ears, and ornamental grasses.

Another indispensable group of perennials look and act more like shrubs. They include butterfly bush (Buddleja species), hardy English lavender selections, and Russian sage. Since these plants suffer varying degrees of winter dieback, they benefit from being cut back by about half in early spring.

Surefire combinations

The perennials listed below prefer sun unless noted.


Low water (1 inch rain/irrigation per month in summer)

* Pink-flowered Diascia integerrima `Coral Canyon', deep lavender blue pincushion flower (Scabiosa columbaria `Butterfly Blue'), silver-leafed lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet')

* Magenta prairie wine cups (Callirhoe involucrata), purple English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Mitcham Grey'), silver-- leafed Artemisia versicolor e White Gaura lindheimeri, yellow Ozark sundrops (Oenothera macrocarpa incana), purple skullcap (Scutellaria resinosa) Moderate water (ve to 1 inch per week in summer)

* White or lavender calamint (Calamintha nepeta), rose purple Liatris spicata, blue, pink, or white balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)

* Pale yellow Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam', silvery blue Eryngium species, blue oat grass (Helictotrichon semper-- virens)

* Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), lavender Limonium latifolium, pink Saponaria x lempergii 'Max Frei'

* Purple Geranium 'Nimbus', yellow 'Happy Returns' daylily, golden feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum')

3 FEET AND TALLER Moderate water

* Buff-flowered feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora `Karl Foerster'), yellow pincushion flower (Cephalaria alpina), blue globe thistle (Echinops ritro)

* Pink Lavatera thuringiaca, powder blue Russian sage (Perovskia) Regular water (1 inch per week in summer)

* White mugwort (Artemisia lactiflora), white-flowered Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', orange Lilium henryi

* Rose purple Liatris pycnostachya, rose pink bee balm (Monarda 'Marshall's Delight'), white Phlox paniculata 'David'

Light shade, regular water

* Dark blue garden monkshood (Aconitum napellus), white `Royal Standard' hosta, rose lilac meadow rue (Thalictrum dipterocarpum) *

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