Whenever I'm stumped as to what to change or add, I turn to other gardens for inspiration. The gardens at the Toronto Botanical Gardens always inspire me. Let's take a look at what was blooming there in mid-June.
Let's start off with a look at the alliums. I have lots of Allium 'Purple Sensation' dotted throughout my garden. It looks nice to have them interspersed among the other perennials, but it hadn't occurred to me to group alliums together until I saw this mass planting at the TBG. Gathered together like this, they make a billowy clouds of purple.
Alliums are odd flowers, if you ask me. They look soft and razor sharp all at the same time. I believe these particular alliums are Allium ' Christophii'.
Star of Persia, Allium 'Christophii' is a perennial bulb with umbels that are 10-12 inches in diameter. The star-shaped mauve flowers have a bit of a metallic sheen. Full sun and average, well-drained soil are perfect for these alliums. 'Christophii' may be left for years until fewer blooms indicate the bulbs have become crowded. Separate crowded bulbs after the foliage dies down. The flower dries also well. Note: handling or cutting the plant may cause some skin irritation. Wear garden gloves if you have sensitive skin. Height: 45-60 cm (18-24 inches), Spread: 15-22 cm (6-9 inches). USDA zones: 5-9.
As well as these closeups, I wish I had stepped back to take a picture of this great native plant.
Gillenia a little larger than a Spirea and a bit more upright in its growth habit. The leaves are bright green and the stems are red, but the real reason to add this perennial to your June garden is the profusion of white flowers it produces.
Gillenia trifoliata: A tough, long-lived native plant with reddish stems, narrow leaves and white star-shaped flowers. Height: 60-120 cm, Spread: 60-75 cm. Full sun or light shade. Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. Good fall color. Zones: USDA 4-9
There are so many new and exciting cultivars of Baptisia to choose from these days! A June garden ought to have a least one Baptisia, don't you think?
Astrantia major 'Roma'. Read more about Astrantia in this blog post.
Peonies at the Toronto Botanical Garden
Looking at these single white peonies with their frilly petticoats, it is easy to see why all white gardens have become so popular. Sunlight plays off white petals so beautifully.
The peonies I have in my own garden have little in the way of companion plantings. I'd like to remedy that. Here are a few combinations I noted.
Peonies look great with a backdrop of deep blue Salvia.
Paeonia lactiflora 'Crinkled White'
Planted in front of any peony, Amsonia 'Blue Ice' looks terrific. This is a combination I've already experimented with in my own garden, but it seems to be taking a couple years for my Amsonia to really get established and flower.
Amsonia 'Blue Ice' has starry blue flower and leathery green foliage that becomes golden in the fall. Average moisture conditions and garden soil are fine. Height: 35-40 cm ( 14-16 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.
Peonies and Catmint at the Toronto Botanical Garden.
Peonies and Catmint are another great June combination.
I have say that I have become a big fan of Catmint. It blooms for an extended time, has great grey-green foliage, and if you cut it back hard, it can go on to have a great second act in late to mid-summer.
Last year I added quite a couple of the newer, more compact cultivars to my garden and I am really pleased with them. Catmint, Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low' is still an excellent choice, but I find that these newer varieties work really well at the front of a border. Here are a two:
Catmint 'Junior Walker' is a sterile dwarf form of 'Walker's Low'. The periwinkle blue flowers appear in June and last for weeks. Full sun and average garden soil. Cut back hard to encourage new flowers. Height: 35-40 cm (14-16 inches), Spread: 80-90 cm (31-35 inches). USDA zones: 5-9.
Catmint 'Prussian Blue' has the same blue flowers on a plant that has a tidy habit. Again, cut back hard to encourage new flowers. Height: 35-45 cm (14-18 inches), Spread: 45-75 cm (18-29 inches). USDA zones: 5-9.
Penstemon at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.
The delicate trumpet-shaped flowers of Penstemon start blooming toward the end of the month. They bloom for a number of weeks and look great with Veronica or Salvias.
Penstemon 'Husker Red' has foliage that is beet-red in spring and fall and somewhat greener in the summer. Butterflies love the flowers, which are such a pale pink they are almost white. Full sun. Normal, sandy or clay soils are all suitable. Average to moist growing conditions. Height 75-90 cm, Spread: 30-45 cm. USDA Zones: 3-9.
Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.
Super tall, this perennial always stands out in any June garden.
Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' is a recent introduction to North America, so the bad news is that this particular cultivar may be a little hard to track down and find. When not in flower this plant makes a large mound of coarse green leaves. Flower shoot skyward on these incredible reddish colored stems. Once finished flowering the spent flowers continue to add architectural interest well into winter. Normal or sandy soil that is on the dry side is best for this plant. Full sun. Height: 90-120 cm (35-47 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA Zones: 2-9.
June seems to have passed in the blink of on eye!
Already a new month has begun with a fresh set of challenges. Yesterday afternoon I startled baby bunny who ducked back back into the undergrowth. Then I noticed one of the first of the Japanese Beetles on a newly opened white rose.
Monarda 'Purple Rooster' in my herb garden.
Thank goodness there is usually a balance of forces at work in the garden! As I walked to the back of the yard, I noticed that the Monarda in my herb garden has the prettiest grape colored flowers. I think I may just have a new favourite!