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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Silene, a Bitter-Sweet Perennial

Photo credit: Lorraine Roberts, Plant Paradise Country Gardens, Caledon, Ontario.

Last year, I came home from the nursery laden with more than ten pink perennials. Silene Rolly’s Favorite was one of them. The vivid pink color of its flower, almost fluorescent in intensity, made it a knock out. In the garden, it rewarded me with intense color that lasted from May until the beginning of July. It turned out to be a very floriferous perennial. As a pink plant person, I was delighted.

It bloomed again this past week, making it the first early-summer perennial to produce color in my garden. Every time I pass it by, I stop to admire the almost unreal shade of vivid pink and the fleshy sensuality of its petals. This plant is the “real deal”.

That enthusiasm is tempered, however, by the fact this perennial is known to self-seed easily. I cannot imagine that seeing so many beautiful pink flowers in my garden will upset me, but I do know how annoying it can be when nature decides what a garden will look like, and not the gardener

Last season, I combined Rolly’s Favorite with White Shasta daisy and blue Nepeta subsellis. In the fall, I added a Purple Campanula Glomerata to that composition. In my imagination, I can see a dramatic planting because, when vivid pink flowers are combined with rich purple ones, they create vibrancy. Now I patiently wait to see how this three-way composition will perform.

I presume that the photo above was taken on a cloudy day or with a blue filter because the actual shade of this plant is a brighter pink than what can be seen in the image. This plant creates a mound of dark green foliage that supports a bouquet of pink flowers measuring 18 to 24 inches high. It also has a trailing habit that makes it ideal for rock gardens and container planting. Silene Rolly’s Favorite needs good drainage and sun [though it does grow in part shade] and it is hardy in Zones 5 to 10. What a pity it is not tame.

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Reader Comments (6)

Never heard of that Silene variety. I've only seen the cheeky white one, who once invited, is there for the duration. Still, if it only seeds around 'politely' it may well be worth planting. Too bad about the zone five...I'm in four.

Christine in Alaska

May 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B.

I like lots of pink also, I had never heard of this plant and will have to look for it.


May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I don't mind its self-sowing tendencies. Butterflies love it.

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

Love the sowing tendencies of this flower, as well as the color, I'm in Canada and hoping that I'll be able to successfully grow these in my garden this year also.

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDontel Montelbaun

Allan, I think you are a colorist! Love your attention to subtle shades of flowers.

May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Rainer

Allan, I picked up this Rollie at a plant sale and had no idea what the flower would look like. I came upon your site and read everything you had to say and the other posters too. You have a wonderful site and very informative. Good pictures too. As Arnold would say, "I'll be back"!

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Matz

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