Perennials in warm, sunny tones capture the spirit of summer and make for an uplifted mood in the garden. Luminous yellow, vigorous orange, and fiery red — these are real power colors that coneflowers (Rudbeckia), false sunflower (Heliopsis), Helenium, and perennial sunflowers (such as Helianthus microcephalus) come clothed in.
The sunny hues are typical for a garden in high summer. In early summer, it’s usually the blue, violet, and pink tones that dominate, but the more intense the sun’s rays are, the more these colors pale and fade into the background. Yellow, orange, and red, by contrast, gain brilliance in the sun. In addition to their color, these members of the Asteraceae family — native to the North American prairie — are impressive for their size. Depending on type and variety, they can reach 3 to 9 feet.
Another advantage: the more generously you plant, the more generous the overall effect, particularly for small gardens, and then there’s the practical, added plus that extensive plantings require significantly less time to care for. These perennials are without a doubt robust and easy keepers. You’ll want to choose a spot that receives the most sun possible and soil that is rich in nutrients and not too dry. When placed in a good spot, they’ll reward you, according to type and variety, with an abundance of blossoms from June until October.
With well timed pruning, you can extend the blossom time of a bed and, quite by accident, improve the stability of the plantings.
Attractive companion plants — such as nettle (Monarda) and asters, whose inflorescence doesn’t wane until springtime, make for a handsome scene in late fall and winter. There are also elegant grasses such as feather reed (Calamagrostis) or moor grass (Molinia), which has a delightfully transparent look. (GMH)