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

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

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White Persicaria and Red Roses

White Persicaria polymorpha, Rose Emily Carr and on the left foliage from Eupatorium purpureum that will bloom later in the seasonThe above drama occurred serendipitously.  Originally, a flowerbed was planted to be a theatre perormance. Contrasts in colors, textures, heights, and movements supplied by a composition of continuously blooming roses and perennials were created for the pleasure of apartment dwellers when they looked down from their terraces high above a garden in a private park.

The tall red roses planted five years ago – Emily Carr, from the Canadian Artists collection of hardy shrub roses - were the focal point of the flowerbed. Although they looked stunning in bloom, something was amiss because most of the strong visual energy that the roses supplied weakened by the time it reached the twelfth floor above. More staging was required.

The solution and inspiration came from a visit to a wholesale perennial grower in the countryside. A large round flowerbed was planted in the center of a circular driveway to serve as a landmark for clients approaching along a winding country road.

In the centre of the 10-foot diameter bed, three Persicaria polymorpha perennials were planted in triangle formation several feet apart from one another. At the time of my visit, the composition had matured over three years to create a tall swaying grove of white feathery texture.

The very rugged but elegant plant, also known as Knotweed, is a sun perennial that also grows with magnificence in part shade. The bloom period is quite extensive and the luxuriously sensual flower heads - alive or dead - remain shapely and texturally interesting throughout the season.

To draw focus to the flowerbed, I decided to use this perennial as a proscenium for the red roses. In addition to contributing height and drama, it also diverted tenants' eyes away from a view of the neighboring apartment building.  

However, never was any thought given to the powerful visual impact this perennial might make on the appearance of the roses themselves. Emily Carr roses were intended to be the main attraction, to enhance the appearance of other plants and to give pleasure to the apartment dwellers. Instead, Persicaria made the roses appear to bloom more beautiful than ever before. It enhanced the red color; it showcased the shape of the flower; it made the composition glow and gave it movement. A new dimension to the overall design of the garden was created simply by planting this white perennial behind the red roses. That is serendipity.

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Reader Comments (11)

Allan, Are the Emily Carr roses fragrant? I'm looking for cold-hardy roses that also have good fragrance, and I've noticed that fragrance is often traded away for hardiness. Besides, I'm a fan of Emily Carr and would be honored to have a rose named for her in my garden.

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Rose Emily Carr has no noticeable fragrance. I had to adjust to the reality that hardiness and continuous bloom are more important for my very specific garden design needs than fragrance. I miss the pungent intoxicating aroma of hybrid tea roses but I don't miss the intermittent blooming or the feeding, watering, pest spraying, and winter insulating they require.

June 25, 2015 | Registered CommenterAllan

lovely combination, I had been looking at aruncus in many forms and am astounded at how similar that feathery white bloom is to it, off to try to find some now at our nurseries :)

September 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Gorgeous contrast Allan! Turned out quite beautifully!

October 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDana

The combination looks beautiful..!!

March 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIan McGregor

The images are very beautiful. Gardening is a good hobby. Thanks for uploading the images and sharing the post with us.

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChandran C

I love gardening. The joy of witnessing the flowers blossom and the growth of the plants is simply the best.

July 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGanesh Kumar

Gardening helps in connecting to the nature and will benefit you in many ways. Once you get into gardening and then you will realize how happy it makes us.

July 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeepa

This is the best hobby in the world. Even growing plants which gives no fruits and vegetables gives you very much joy.

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChandran C

White Persicaria is very beautiful. I will grow them in my garden

December 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTakeshi Kenshin

Gardening is the best thing one can do. Some people don't go on vacations because they have to water the plant. Such is the connection between the people and plants. Thanks for the article.

January 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRajesh

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