Yes, you read the word ‘summer’ in my title. It may be a bit chilly outside and you’re currently hearing the steady tink of sleet against your window, now’s the time to start thinking about your summer color. I have three plant suggestions for you that will fill up your flowerbeds, provide bountiful show, and require only a bit of maintenance. They are Rudbeckia, also known as Black-Eyed Susan; ‘Knock Out’ roses in a cherry, cheery pink; ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, which provides an icy color contrast to the first two members of this hardy triumvirate. And, as we all know, three is the best number in terms of design.
I recommend these bloomers also for three reasons; color, texture, stamina. But you’ll like them for three other reasons: low maintenance, contrasting hues, and their ability to fill in any place you put them.
Rudbeckia has been around for a long time, but is just now getting the respect it deserves. You’ll find it in both annual and perennial varieties, and it can be depended upon to perform when everything else has grown too weary of the heat. I’m talking as much as six months of color, depending on the hybrid you select. It even comes in a dwarf variety, called—of course—‘Little Rudbeckia.’ And you can be forgiven if you still refer to it the way you did as a kid, ‘black-eyed susan.’
Rose hybridizers have been hard at work for years on a bush that will bloom in many conditions, thrive in neglect, and bloom for an extended time. The ‘Knock Out’ series does all that. The color I like is the hot pink one, and it doesn’t fade, like other bloomers will in scalding sun. And it contrasts perfectly with the gold of rudbeckia. It won’t grow tall and rangy like typical roses, either. Which means you can put it behind your rudbeckia and be confident that it will know and keep its place. And you won’t grow tired of the color, either. Even if you’re not a pink person, the bloom color has a liveliness you’ll enjoy.
Finally comes the glamorous member of the team, ‘Limelight’ hydrangea. This mid-summer bloomer is not the blue mophead you may be thinking about, but rather, is its aristocratic cousin, with blossoms in a sherbet shade of chartreuse. The blooms are erect in the summer breeze and the plants won’t flag in the heat the way mop head hydrangeas do. Plus, all you have to do is prune them back in late winter or early spring for large reliable bloom cover every year. And, rather than plant a third hot color, you’ve injected a bit of cool into your planting.
Place your ‘Limelight’ at the back of the border, so it can nod and gaze out over rudbeckia and ‘Knock Out’ roses.
And note how these three fit well into beds and against the backdrop of any style house. Lovely in masses, too.
Their height arrangement seems flowing and natural and there’s no real point of one plant leaving off, and another taking its place. Their growth habits mean they mingle well.
The Rudbeckia are masters at reaching for the sun, and finding all the spaces to fill. They thrust over foundation plantings and provide real energy to summer beds.
These three really will fill in wherever they’re placed, and fit in not only with each other, but any neighboring plants as well.
They aren’t expensive, delicate, or fussy. But these three will give you the show you want, and won‘t play out before the season ends. What else could you ask for? Unless you require them to feed and water themselves, they’ll do everything you want and more.
Live Life to the Fullest!
Chris Olsen is a nationally known home and garden guru, designer, author, TV personality and public speaker. In his book, Chris shares his landscape and gardening knowledge along with his unique flair for home decor and design.He is also a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Learn more about Chris and all of his work at chrisholsen.com.