When you look at lists of long blooming perennials, you recognise many that you know, but would not have included in such a list. They do have a good blooming period, but it is certainly not as long as nurserymen would like you to believe. It might be that they do better in some other gardens, but to say they bloom all summer is an exaggeration. I have not kept actual records of the longest blooming plants in our garden this summer, but from memory, here are the plants that bloomed the longest. It is mostly a list of herbaceous or shrubby perennials, but I have also included a climber. In fact, our longest blooming plant by far is a clematis: Queen of Holland.
|Clematis Queen of Holland|
Queen of Holland is one of these rare plants that truly bloom the whole season. Usually, plants that are described as such behave like most repeating roses: there is a rush early in the season and then a few blooms in the following weeks with perhaps another good show at the end of the season. In the spring, Queen of Holland, gets covered with flowers and stays covered with new flowers until the frost. It is hard to believe how this clematis just does not stop blooming, profusely, without any deadheading, till it is too cold. It is not the most attractive clematis I have grown, but there is no question that in this garden it is the plant that blooms the longest time.
|Queen of Holland|
In second place, I would put Coreopsis grandiflora Domino. Most coreopsis bloom all summer. It so happens that the variety I noticed most in the garden this last summer was Domino. I did deadhead it carefully, which can lengthen the blooming period quite a bit. Seeing how well it did reminds me that I should do more deadheading. Domino got more than its share of attention simply because it was next to the tomatoes which I visited regularly. Like Queen of Holland, it stayed covered with flowers and started to slow down only in the autumn.
|Coreopsis grandiflora Domino|
Nepeta racemosa Walker's Low is indeed a perennial that blooms a very long time. However, it falls into the category of plants that, although they stay in bloom, look rather tired for much of the later part of the summer. It is attractive, but especially in early summer at the time roses are at their best. I let it bloom, but it might perform better if I were to cut it down and let it produce a second crop. It would not be in bloom for as long, but it would look fresher later in the season.
|Sarah Bernhart lying on a bed of Nepeta Walker's Low|
There are plants that you do not notice much even if they stay in bloom a long time. This is the case of the yellow ice plant, Delosperma nubigenum. It is indeed a long bloomer, and I pay attention to it when the flower first come out, but then I tend to take it for granted. I should pay it a bit more respect because in hindsight, I realize that it is one of my longest bloomers.
I could go on, but I wanted to limit myself to the very longest performers. Long blooming plants are very useful as a kind of supporting actor. In part because they are around for so long, they often do not get the recognition that a star, like a tree peony that some years stays in bloom a very short time, invariably gets.