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

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Entries in pink perennials (8)

Friday
May172013

Ten Vivid Pink Garden Plants 

Pink is the most popular color in the flowerbed. In all its gradations and tones, it runs the gamut from baby pastel and amethyst to a very deep pink that almost borders on cold red. This family of colors seems to touch the hearts and minds of gardeners and their visitors. Except in climates where sun bleaches out its more pastel tones, pink is found in most gardens around the globe.

Here are ten vivid pink flowering plants that caught my eye. Some have grown in my garden for many years, others are new for me; I found them in recent trade catalogues.

Hydrangea macrophylla Abracadabra

If you garden in a warmer growing zone than I do, chances are you’ve had better success growing macrophylla [broad-leaf] hydrangeas than gardeners who live in colder climates. The grower describes this relatively new variety as having flower heads resembling big, funky flying saucer lace-cap flowers that merge pink and white and mature to hot pink atop black satin stems. These distinctive stems provide interest in the garden before the summer flowers open. The color of the flowers can be shifted to blue by adding aluminum sulfate to the soil. Abracadabra grows from 3 to 4 feet tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 5.

Hydrangea macrophylla Paraplu

Vivid pink Paraplu is a another new introduction for warmer climates. I am told that its downward arching mop heads of rich, vibrant, double florets, appear like dainty umbrellas in shades ranging from candy pink to intense hot pink. In soil where the pH is low, some purple will appear. The grower reports that Paraplu holds up well in the heat, and withstands the rigors of Midwestern winters. This dwarf variety is expected to remain under three feet tall and wide and is hardy to USDA Zone 5.


Phlox subulata, Pink

A long lived, cold-climate perennial, it is perfectly suitable for rock gardens, rugged ground cover, and sunny drought conditions. Cascading over slopes like puddly waterfalls, it grows 2 to 6 inches tall, spreads 12 to 18 inches in width and is hardy from USDA Zone 2 to Zone 9. The early spring pink flowers that illuminate the flowerbed are so intense that the color appears to have been mixed by a Disney cartoon illustrator. After the short-lived blooms fade, the rugged, evergreen, pinnate-textured foliage serves as an elegant-looking yet rugged groundcover that contributes lush tactile texture throughout the year. Photo: Stoneridge Gardens and Nursery.

Rose Carefree WonderThis staple in my garden has impressed visitors for the past fifteen years; I used to plant it in most of my garden projects until it became difficult to locate in my area. Growing four feet tall and three feet wide, it blooms in a radiant, deep pink, with flower heads measuring four inches across. So intense is its color that few will notice the reverse white petals. This easy-to-care-for rose is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and blooms continuously from June until the first snowfall.

Rose Double Pink Knock Out

Knock Out Roses are among the most disease resistant rose bushes on the market. This variety is a compact tidy shrub, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, that blooms in bright pink. It is drought tolerant, self-cleaning, and winter hardy to USDA Zone 5, and blooms until frost.

Rose Pink Home Run

Vivid rich pink flowers cover this modest sized shrub rose practically every day during the growing season. At 3 ½ to 4 feet tall and wide it blooms continuously throughout the summer with an extraordinary resistance to disease, pests, powdery mildew, and with a high level of tolerance for downy mildew. It is winter hardy to USDA Zone 4 and blooms until frost.

Rhododendron Azalea Rosy Lights

This vivid plant scintillates as if each flower petal had been fitted with nano-sized neon tubes. As a result, during the day the shrub glows like a Chinese lantern. Hardy in my location [USDA Zone 4], Rosy Lights will grow 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, depending upon climate. This variety is part of the Northern Lights Series of hybrid azaleas developed and released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Any azalea released and included in this series will have flower bud hardiness of -30 degrees to -45 degrees F to withstand Minnesota winters. Photo: Kunkle Nursery.

Silene Rolly’s Favorite

Hardy to USDA Zone 5, this very floriferous perennial starts blooming in early spring and continues until early summer, if cut back after the initial flush. It grows 11 to 15 inches high and 10 to 12 inches wide. Although it has a neat mounding habit, it propagates itself easily at the extremities of its circumference. Gardeners are eager to share this plant with everyone they know because its intense pink color is hard to believe and impossible to describe. In bright sun, the pink petals are significantly warmer than the tones that appear in the photo above. Photo: Lorraine Roberts, Plant Paradise Country Gardens, Caledon, Ontario.

Thalictrum Black Stocking

One gardener’s pink is another gardener’s lavender. Although nurseries describe this perennial as flowering in bright lavender-magenta, in the blazing sun of summer, I see vivid, deep pink. That shade is further enhanced by a background of the nearly black stems of this tall, almost six-foot perennial. Surprisingly, for a plant of this height, it spreads to less than 2 feet wide, doesn’t require staking, and maintains a neat and disciplined appearance. This family of perennials has been one of the easiest to grow in my flower beds over the past twenty years. When shopping, it is important to keep in mind that not all Thalictrum bloom in the identical shade of pink. T. aquilegifolium and T.rochebrunianum, for example, flower in much paler shades of pink or lavender. As a result, even though they are substantial and impressive perennials, they are not as visually satisfying as Black Stocking. Photo: Chocolate Flower Farm.

Viburnum Brandywine.

The advance hype on this deer-resistant, berry-producing shrub reads like a Broadway production. I sure hope that I can reproduce its climactic season’s ending after I plant this shrub in my test garden, this season. Here is what the growers say: Hardy to USDA Zone 5, the extravaganza begins with undistinguished, white flower and ends with a fruit display that some consider unrivaled in the plant world. In late summer the color of the immature green, pea-sized berries changes to shades of bright pink and then to hues of bright blue and wild grape. [The pink color is intensified when the blue and grape appear beside it]. As a bonus, the glossy green leaves age to a very dark maroon red. This species will not thrive in chalky or alkaline soils and in the North Eastern U.S. it is susceptible to the Viburnum bark beetle. However, it is claimed that these pests can be controlled without chemicals.

Tuesday
Dec042012

Dianthus Anonymous; a Pungent, Pink Perennial

When Frances moved into her new home 60 years ago, a neighbor presented her with a cutting of a short, pink-flowering perennial. The plant had no name. It remained anonymous until years later when a cutting of it was passed down to me and I recognized it as a member of the dianthus family. I still do not know its specific name.

When her daughter Suzanne purchased a home, Frances gave her a clump of that same plant with the advice that it was hardy and reliable. Years later, when my wife and I purchase our home, Suzanne, in turn,  gave us a cutting of that same plant. Over time, when the clump in my garden grew to maturity, I too would begin to hand out cuttings to all my friends and neighbors. The perennial was truly rugged and very well suited to our climate here in USDA Zone 4.

Prior to receiving that gift, I had not been very successful growing this family of plants. As a teenager, I had ordered dianthus many times from mail-order catalogues but the strains that I received could not  survive the Montreal winters of the 1960’s. However, this anonymous dianthus, passed down from generation to generation and from one friend to another, would prove to be very hardy.

Without thinking, I chose a very challenging sunny location for my cutting.  I placed it in a prominent spot in a rock garden where the earth was really too well drained, Combined with the searing heat of the sun, the dense dry clay earth created a desert-like environment. Up until then, all that survived there had been vigorous weeds and insinuous wild flowers. How was I to know that dianthus is a drought loving plant and that I had made a wise decision?

In those days, I watered my garden nightly and nourished it with generous amounts of manufactured fertilizer. The dianthus seemed to have enjoyed all that pampering; by the end of summer, it had grown from a messy, scrawny, leggy cutting into a lush cloud-shaped carpet of silver-blue pinnate foliage. The dense mat it created became a weed-free oasis surrounded by a sea of wild flowers eager to invade but unable to do so.

The following summer, that low-growing mound of pastel blue foliage produced a crop of baby-pink dianthus flowers, from which emanated a pungent, spicy aroma that intoxicated my brain. The sensory effect was euphoric. Previously, only the aroma of dwarf Korean lilacs had given me a similar sensation.

Inspired by this fantasy-like aromatic experience, I attacked the now-lush mound of dianthus in order to propagate it. I wanted to spread this source of pleasure throughout. After all, if one mound could be so powerful, surely several would be hypnotic.

Propagating dianthus was not an easy task because the makeup of the root ball is illusory. While the plant may spread in all directions, its roots are confined to a very spindly compact fortress at its center.

Suzanne had dug into the center of her plant to give me a viable cutting. I was more inclined to separate several strands of the plant from the root ball’s perimeter. Both methods result in the mother plant and its cuttings to appear ragged for a while, but it is worth the messiness to achieve a greater goal.

I also discovered that it is possible to remove strands of the plants with or without roots attached - it didn’t seem to matter. So rugged is this perennial that rootless pieces thrived and established themselves over time to produce lush plant mats even when placed into my dry, hot clay bed. As an added bonus, the spreading mats would eventually cascade over the boulders in the rock garden to create miniature waterfalls of plants, now silver blue and later baby pink.

After propagating, the front borders of my flowerbed shimmered with the silver blue trimming that is dianthus. I was delighted with the pungent aroma the plants produced in early summer. I was also pleased that the foliage did not turn brown in autumn; it held its blue-spruce color up until the first snowfall, when it disappeared – color intact - under a blanket of white.

The following season, when the warm spring sun melted the snow, the silver- blue foliage appeared to have been untouched by winter. It provided a pleasant surprise of color in the garden, when all else was still brown.

From many sources, I had learned that dianthus will rebloom during the summer if the first crop is dead headed. I tried to achieve that second flourish for many years until my body lost some of its flexibility. The flowers grow so close to the ground that some mature gardeners will find it challenging to engage in the heavy-duty crouching required for this task.

This is not a one-dead-head-at-a-time job either. The chore requires a hedge trimmer using one or several swoops to remove the miniature florets. A hand clipper will not do because there are too many tiny flowers to manicure.

However, in my experience, the second batch of blooms produced by the dead headed perennial was never as spectacular as the first. The bending and crouching required to produce the meager additional crop did not justified the hard work. Eventually, I gave up.

Long after I recived my first dianthus cutting, newer varieties began to appear on the market. Sadly, not one has proven to be as hardy or robust as the anonymous pink hand-me-down. In my growing zone, the newer botanical inventions tend to last only one or two seasons. There is something to be said for the good old reliable “heritage” perennials. They never disappoint.

Monday
Jul162012

Astilbe Amethyst: Another Awesome Perennial

The Astilbe family is one of  the politest collection of flowering perennials. Not only do these plants grow almost maintenance-free, but they bloom in colors that cooperate, behave, and blend in well with practically every garden color scheme.

With bloom periods ranging from June until September, one can enjoy this plant all season long. In addition, the heights of different Astilbes vary so greatly, that an assorted collection, randomly planted in a flowerbed, might resemble scattered notes on sheet music. No wonder landscape architects use them, albeit sparingly, when they are obliged to add neat flowers to their serene, green plant compositions.

Astilbes grow in, tight, upright clumps that increase in size slowly. There are no spreading roots systems that require controlling, no messy sprawl, no staking of its flowering, feathery spikes, almost no pest, bug, or fungus problems, no additional nutrients required, no winter protection, and in colder climates, no exponential growth from one season to the next.

In fact, when the blooms have dies, the elegant, brown spiky seed heads add texture and vertical architectural detail to the garden. Furthermore, the Astilbe colors, even though they span every shade of pink, mauve, violet, red, peach, and cream - to - white, never appear garish, bold, or offensive.

However, one Astilbe does not conform to this modesty. The variety Amethyst is a scintillating pink extravaganza. It sizzles in the sun, where it ought not to be, like a display of fireworks, and glows intensely in shade and part - shade in vivid tones of lavender - pink. As a specimen plant, it is breathtaking; and when combined with other perennials in the garden, it is transformational.

At maturity, A. Amethyst reaches 40 inches in height and two feet in width. It performs best in a moist garden situated in part to full shade. However, mine is planted in damp sun, where the daylight makes the flower heads sparkle, and it is doing just fine.

I purchased  this variety last year for my test garden because I had never seen it in bloom and because the trade description suggested that it might be an ideal addition to my repertoire of elegant, tall perennials. I was not disappointed. The combination of good height, architectural presence, and intense color makes this versatile perennial a traffic stopper.

Monday
Apr022012

Chelone Obliqua: a Tall, Pink Perennial with Turtlehead Flowers 

HORT 218 Herbaceous Landscape Plants ~ Horticulture & Landscape Architecture - Purdue UniversityGardeners, who shop for plants only in spring, miss an opportunity to be seduced by the easy-care, cold climate perennial, Chelone obliqua. A late summer blooming plant, it has insufficient growth in early spring to draw the plant hunter’s attention. Even if one examines its label, there is little to attract because plant tag photography does this flower an injustice.

However, by reading the information on the tag, the astute gardener will notice that it is a tall growing, long blooming perennial that thrives both in sun and part shade. It reaches 23 to 35 inches in height [60 to 90 cm] has a wonderfully small spread of 18 to 23 inches18 [45 to 60 cm] and it blooms not only for a lengthy period but also at a time when most other perennials are waning.

I discovered this plant by accident. Seedling-sized plants were on sale at a ridiculously low price and I kept filling my basket with all of the pink perennials I could find. Of the hundreds that I chose, and then discarded because they did not please me, Chelone obliqua is one of the few that I kept.

http://www.stauder.net/c.htmIt crept into my affection stealthfully. During the beginning and early summer, it remained unnoticed. Its deep green foliage did not project from far. However, just as I was beginning to dread that many plants were about to end their flowering, Chelone broke into bloom, unexpectedly. Its rich, deep-pink flowers and its tall, elegant shape were pleasing to behold.

Chelone obliqua is a neat, versatile plant that adds a lush background to the perennial border. Its height makes it a perfect candidate for the last row in the flowerbed, where its slow but steady growth adds texture, and form to a garden’s composition.

Up close, one may appreciate its polite lipstick-shaped floral buds that open into upward facing turtleheads. However, from a distance, this plant requires maturity before it can add its voice to the garden's chorus. When viewed at a length from the flowerbed, a young lone stalk of Chelone in bloom is difficult to notice; its flower bud is small and its shade of deep pink does not project effectively.  However, a mature clump, with a dense amount of flower heads, is impressive.

http://www.aujardin.ch/view_plante.php?detail=237Chelone is a disciplined perennial; it grows neatly and upright, with florets that are confined to the top spear- tips of its stalk, while its tight clump does not spread beyond three feet. When it reaches that width, not only is it impressive, in shape, color, and flowers, but it is also easy to propagate. In spring, its root ball may be sliced easily into many other plants. However, if propagated in late summer, or even autumn, the cuttings will regenerate into rugged plants by the following spring.

Do not be misled by its beauty. This is a tough, hardy perennial. On many occasions, when it would overwhelm me with pleasure, I would break off a few outside stems, at the point above ground where they grew away from the plant, and stick them into soft earth. They did not die. In fact, they began to grow roots imperceptibly and by the following season, the stems had generated into respectable plants.

This perennial shows better in the garden when several are planted within view of each other. One Chelone is impressive but subtle. Three Chelone, that can be viewed, all at the same time, have a more substantial presence that is enhanced by the rhythm of odd-numbered plants.

http://www.ljono.no/Planteliste.htmI have grown the species Obliqua and a variety called Hot Lips. There is no contest between them. I allowed Hot Lips three years to develop but it never grew into a satisfying perennial. The species, obliqua, grows taller, more floriferous, and richer in color.

Chelone Obliqua ia a versatile wildflower, native to North America. It grows under any pH conditions, in most soil types, and in most moisture levels. It performs well in both sun and part shade and blooms from late summer into mid fall. This plant is a northern gardener’s dream. It is a cold climate perennial, very easy-care, and it contributes structure, form, and beauty to the late summer landscape.

There is great benefit from using hardy plants native to North America. With absolute and total neglect from me, this perennial flourishes reliably in USDA Zone 4; and some sellers report that it is hardy to Zone 3. It is heat tolerant to USDA Zone 9.

Sunday
Jan222012

The Eveready Bunny is a Pink Garden in Devon. 

Here is an example of a pink garden that keeps on giving and giving. This photo essay from Holbrook Garden in Devon, U.K underscores that, in temperate and colder climates, pink is one of the most enduring colors in the garden.

The pink gardens of Holbrook in June

The pink garden in July

August flowers in the pink garden

September blooms in the pink garden

The last hurrah of pink in October