Home About Us Contact Us
Events Web Links Articles Brian Minter Classified Ads
Add a Listing  |  Log In

April 1, 2000

The latest weather forecast for the next week mentions a possible cool spell with some Arctic air moving in. This means that we could possibly get a bit of heavy night frost. I hope they’re wrong, but it is a good reminder of just how fickle early spring weather can be. Instead of worrying about annuals, why not rely on tried and true perennials as a source of early colour in our gardens. Having a collection of carefully chosen perennials to bloom in succession is the best way to always have spring colour. There are some old standbys that will never let you down, and each year a few new ones come along that show a great deal of promise. For today’s small space gardens, I look for perennials that are short and compact. Since no one likes to spray for insects and diseases, it is also nice to have perennials that have fairly good tolerance in those areas. Having colour through to June is terrific, and if the flowers last into July and August, so much the better. Some of the reliable early plants are arabis, aubrieta, bergenia, marsh marigolds, yellow alyssum, Bleeding Hearts and epimedium. All of these plants provide good early colour, however, I want to focus on a few multi-purpose perennials that can make a huge difference in our spring gardens.

On top of my list are astilbes. Performing equally well in shade or sun, these 'false spireas' can, all by themselves, lift a garden out of its doldrums. Their early spring foliage is already making an interesting display. Coming in all shades of white, pink, red and lavender, their fluffy plumes last at least eight weeks and grow anywhere from four inches to six feet in height. The good news is that even the tallest ones need no staking. The foliage on many varieties opens to a rich dark bronze, and some, like the variety called 'Sprite', maintain this rich dark foliage all season. If you choose your varieties carefully, you can enjoy continuous blooms from June until August. If astilbes sound like the perfect garden plant ... well, in my opinion, they are! Where else can you find a hardy, sun or shade-loving perennial which tolerates such a diversity of garden situations and flowers when your garden really needs some help?

Daylilies have never been one of my favourites because they are so messy looking after they flower, but one particular variety has changed my mind. The new dwarf hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' has all the makings of a sensational cover-up plant. It only grows 15 to 18 inches high, flowers all summer with huge golden flowers, and if that is not enough, it has a perfume that will knock your socks off. Another variety which I like very much is a repeat bloomer called ‘Happy Returns’. It looks for all the world like a bouquet of daffodils all summer long. Can't you just see these tough little perennials hiding all sorts of tulip and daffodil stems, or turning your attention away from a tired azalea or rhododendron? Hybridizers are coming up with so many brilliant new colours on more compact plants that I feel they have a tremendous future in modern gardens. Hemerocallis take very little care, which is a big asset for today's busy gardeners. Speaking of lilies, I think we have all but forgotten the June-flowering Asiatic lilies. Planted in fall or spring, these hardy, easy-to-grow lilies will pop up in June and July to give your garden support when you need it the most. I have used them successfully between rhododendrons and azaleas to carry the rhododendron garden through late June and July. If you naturalize them among your tulips and daffodils, the fresh new foliage will screen the drying leaves of these spring bulbs. Try to use the lighter, brighter colours for a better showing, and definitely stay with the shorter varieties. Yellow 'Sunray', 'Red Carpet', white 'Avalon' and the old-time favourite, orange 'Enchantment', are certainly among my favourites. Two evergreen perennials have also shot to the top of the charts with their stunning foliage that stays all year and provides a fabulous accent for early flowering shrubs, bulbs and other perennials. Purple-leafed heucheras, especially ‘Plum Puliing’ and ‘Velvet Night’ are sensational foliage varieties that simply ‘make’ an early spring garden. They complement anything yellow, pink or silver, lifting them to the next level.

Tiarellas, with their green, silver and black foliage markings, are made for the shade. They not only flower, but their leaves lighten and brighten those dark areas of our gardens. Wood hyacinths or scillas make a nice complement.

Speaking of shade, the unsung hero of our early gardens are the new varieties of old fashioned pulmonarias. The silver speckled, mildew-free leaves are a sight by themselves. Their blue and pink flowers, which seem to bloom almost all spring, are a delightful bonus. With a little research, you will find that many other great perennials, like irises and poppies, have lots of potential to maintain the colour level of your gardens from spring through summer.



Article courtesy of:
Minter Gardens Minter Gardens

Exit #135 Highway #1, Chilliwack, BC, Canada   V2P 6H7

Phone: (604) 794-7191   Fax: (604) 792-8893

email: Click Here

32 Acre World Class Show Garden & Event Facility

DateArticle TitleSource
Jul 2013  Ornamental Grasses  Minter Gardens 
Feb 2013  Strawberries  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2012  Winterizing your Garden  Minter Gardens 
Jul 2012  Hydrangeas about to steal the show  Minter Gardens 
Jan 2012  Protecting plants from winter damage  Minter Gardens 
Jan 2012  Winter Flowering Shrubs  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2011  Twelve great plants for Christmas  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2011  Christmas Rose  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2011  Minor Blubs  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2011  Fall Foliage Colour  Minter Gardens 
Sep 2011  Little Bulbs  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2011  Growing's not over, there's fall, winter  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2011  Perennials for Late Summer Colour  Minter Gardens 
May 2011  Spring Rose Care  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2011  earlyspringcolour  Minter Gardens 
Mar 2011  rhubarb  Minter Gardens 
Jan 2011  Inside Color  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2010  Hellbores the new Christmas plant  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2010  Top 10 winter garden opportunities  Minter Gardens 
Sep 2010  Ornamental Grasses More popular  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2010  hibiscus  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2010  Perennials to replace fading annuals  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2010  Crocosmias a summer garden delight  Minter Gardens 
Jul 2010  Protect plants and grass from the sun  Minter Gardens 
Jun 2010  Get a head start on early vegetables  Minter Gardens 
Mar 2010  Keeping your lawn in prime condition  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2009  Dormant Spraying  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2009  Winter not so bleak with heathers  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2009  Give indoor plants attention they need  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2009  Pumpkins Gourds and Ornamental Corn  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2009  Winter Vegetable Gardens  Minter Gardens 
Jul 2009  Enhance dinner with edible flowers  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2009  Euphorbias  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2008  Using Bulbs to enhance shrubs  Minter Gardens 
Sep 2008  Spring Bulbs, companion planting  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2008  Roll up sleeves for early vegetables  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2007  Christmas Decor from our Gardens  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2007  Narcissus  Minter Gardens 
Jul 2007  Summer FloweringShrubs  Minter Gardens 
May 2007  Tomatoes  Minter Gardens 
Jan 2007  Indoor Plant Maintenance  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2006  Garden Equipment Maintenance  Minter Gardens 
Sep 2006  History of Tulips  Minter Gardens 
Jun 2006  Summer Fragrance  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2005  Unusual Bulbs  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2005  Vines - Varieties  Minter Gardens 
Mar 2005  Fruit Trees  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2004  Winter Vegetables  Minter Gardens 
Jan 2004  Minimizing Winter Damage  Minter Gardens 
Dec 2003  Christmas Greens Baskets  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2003  Winterizing Roses  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2003  Forcing Indoor Bulbs  Minter Gardens 
Sep 2003  Fall Bulb Planting  Minter Gardens 
Aug 2003  Colchicums  Minter Gardens 
Jun 2003  Coleus  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2001  Perennials - How to Use  Minter Gardens 
Nov 2000  Winter Flowering Heather  Minter Gardens 
Oct 2000  Unique Bulbs  Minter Gardens 
Jul 2000  Summer Flowering Shrubs  Minter Gardens 
Apr 2000  Early Spring Perennials  Minter Gardens 
Mar 2000  Small Fruits  Minter Gardens 
Jul 1999  Flowering Shrubs  Minter Gardens 
Search for: in