May 26, 2010

Meadow Madness

Flowers are randomly mixed and mingled with abandon to give the illusion of a wildflower meadow garden. There's no design per se, but there's a method to my meadow madness. Most of my perennials peak in midsummer and continue to bloom through fall. Until then, I have filled the garden gaps with early blooming favorites.

Perennials that bloom in May and June in my garden include achillea, creeping heliotrope, salvia greggii, Japanese irises, nepeta and gaillardia.

The delightful, new Agastache 'Cotton Candy' from Terra Nova Nurseries is an early blooming variety. The deep pink blooms began in April in my garden, planted in full sun and well-drained soil. This perennial agastache is rated for zones 6-9 and should continue blooming into late summer or fall. Planted as a small plug last September, it is already proving to be a hardy and beautiful performer.
Verbena bonariensis and rose campion, both perennials here, may be self-sowing annuals in colder zones. These two tall plants are easy to use between other perennials and may rebloom with deadheading. The verbena blooms almost nonstop for me, so I rarely have to deadhead it.

Annuals for simultaneous May blooms include cornflowers, larkspur, nigella and poppies—all grown from seed sown in November. These are all easy to weave among the perennials. When the annuals have faded, seeds can be collected or left to reseed. To clean up the garden, the foliage of the larkspur, cornflowers, nigella and poppies can be pulled.

Cornflower 'Blue Boy' (left). I am also growing 'Red Ball' and 'Snowman'. The cornflowers, also known as bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus) may be considered invasive in some areas, so check your state's agricultural information before planting.
Larkspur 'Gailee Blue' and 'Lilac Spire' (shown left) are my favorites, but I added Blue Spire' and 'White King' this year. Can't have too many!
Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Blue' is proving to be a great addition this year. I'm using this annual in several different settings and combinations.
Poppy 'Laurens Grape' (left) was difficult to find. I'm also growing an unknown white poppy in this meadow garden.
Verbena bonariensis (perennial or annual) is a favorite with butterflies, bees and Goldfinches.
As for deer and rabbit resistance—all of these annuals and perennials are unprotected in my outer gardens. I've had no problem with damage, but your results may vary depending upon the availability of food and the size of the animal population. If Goldfinches visit your garden, they will be delighted if you grow the verbena and cornflowers as they love to eat the seeds!

Hidden among all of these flowers are more agastache as well as salvia, Russian sage, leucanthemum, caryopteris, bee balm, liatris, milkweed and sedum. The blooms from these perennials will get all the attention as the summer progresses.

With the results that I've gotten with this new strategy, my meadow madness added another season of peak color without sacrificing space!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons. Agastache 'Cotton Candy' was provided as a trial plant by Terra Nova Nurseries.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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