June Flowering Perennial Plants
A brightly-coloured border plant, part of the rose family: hence the rose-like blooms. Mostly they are orange, scarlet or yellow. One variety, ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ (scarlet), won an award seventy years ago and is still very popular.. They grow easily from seed, make excellent cut flowers, and will go on till October.
Hosta – Plantain
Hostas are most widely used as foliage and ground-cover plants, and very handsome they are, too. They make a magnificent display of leaf colour in shades of green or bluish-green, but they do require a good and fairly rich soil to flourish, and do not like too much sun. Compared with the grandeur of the foliage the flowers are apt to be overlooked, but they are worthy of notice. There are a dozen or more varieties. The tubular flowers, which flourish till July or possibly August, are mainly lavender or pale mauve in colour.
Hypericum – St John’s Wort
I bought my first hypericums asseveral years ago and have always regarded them as such. But although some nurserymen still list them, the trend seems to be to include them among the shrubs, presumably because of their woody nature. The popular Rose of Sharon, Hypericum calycinum, is, however, divided in spring like a perennial. Some varieties have variegated leaves.
Scabiosa – Scabious
This is well named the pin-cushion plant, by virtue of the little mound in the centre of the frilly, delicate-looking petals (mostly blue, though there are some pink or white). It is a sun lover and because it tends to spread quite rapidly should be divided every two or three years.
Vinca – Periwinkle
This is a great favourite, but is best kept away from the border. It is one of the finest plants I know for covering the ground quickly: Vinca major, or the great periwinkle, is a great hero (or offender) in this respect, and is ideal for covering an awkward slope or bank. The leaves are. The flowers, mostly blue, will last until September or October. There are some with red flowers, and a white.
Achillea – Yarrow
Probably the best of the yarrows is ‘Coronation Gold’ which, in addition to its mainly yellow flowers, has attractive greyish-green foliage. The flowers will thrive until September, last well when cut, and can also be dried and used for winter arrangements. It is one of the easiest of all plants to grow as it seems to thrive anywhere. Another good variety is ‘Moonshine’, for when the yellow flowers have gone the silvery foliage will remain for most of the year.
Aconitum – Monk’s hood
The common name refers to the hooded shape of the flowers, usually blue. A slightly tricky plant, this. The secret of success is to give it a fairly sunny and well drained position. It is said to be poisonous if any part is eaten. Though this is unlikely, there is some risk of intense irritation should any of the sap enter through a cut or broken skin.
As notable for its foliage — coarse and hairy — as for its flowers, which are small and dainty. Mainly intense blue, these will last until August. Best grown in a sunny spot.
Campanula – Bellflower
Here is another multi-functional plant. Many of the varieties are intended for the, but they all represent a bonus for owners of chalk gardens, for they do well there provided the soil does not lack nourishment. Most varieties produce a spate of blue flowers until August or beyond, and their generous spikes of bloom make excellent subjects in a flower arrangement.
An oldfavourite, this will provide masses of yellow flowers for cutting right through the summer into early autumn. There are several varieties, in different heights ranging to over 1m (3ft).
Dictamnus – Burning bush
An interesting plant, and one that is easy to grow. In America it is known as the gas plant. The noveltyis its party trick, for it exudes an inflammable oil, and on a warm evening a lighted match held near the plant will cause it to burst into flame, though oddly without causing any damage. When not ‘performing’ the dictamnus will please both eye and nose with nice spikes of lilac-coloured flowers and, as a bonus, pleasingly fragrant foliage. Naturally, requiring some heat for its fire-eating act, it is at its best from June till August.
Better known as aannual, this plant will repay your attention. If it is given a dry and sunny position, with well drained soil it will stand up well in a drought. Flowers are mainly bright yellow or orange, with a darker, typically daisy pin-cushion centre. It will thrive until late summer.
Not to be confused with the pelargoniums mentioned earlier and which are still widely but wrongly called geraniums. The genuine geraniums, though closely related, are the somewhat smaller cranesbills. They are very tough, and many of them are excellent in an alpine bed or rock garden. Best known, probably, is ‘Johnson’s Blue’, with bright blue flowers and attractively shaped foliage. Pink and red varieties are also available. Typically, it will bloom all through summer, probably till September.
Another colourful plant, with large trumpet- like flowers, usually pink. It is aperennial (also known as the tree mallow) but tends to die back after flowering if the weather turns cold. Nevertheless, it does flower freely from June till September, and there is the additional benefit of pleasant, greyish, downy leaves.
A member of the leguminosae family — and therefore it is not surprising that the lupin is used for agricultural purposes as well as decorative ones. The familiar spikes of flowers appear in a wide range of colours. The original ones were nearly all blue, but now they are obtainable in almost every colour and shading. They do not flourish in chalk, and they prefer a fairly rich soil. They also like room to breathe, so space them out well. They are generally at their best in time for Midsummer’s Day and will go on for long after this, probably into early autumn. Because of their height they look well in a vase, but personally I prefer to see a group of them in— a lovely sight, especially where there is a mixture of colours.
Nepeta – Catmint
Aromatic leaves, lavender-type flowers — not very spectacular on their own — but a gentle companion in the border. ‘Feathery’ is one description applied to them. I once acquired a garden where nepeta and some old — very old —roses were neighbours. My predecessor knew what he was doing, for the effect was utterly delightful.
This plant comes in a variety of guises, as an annual or perennial. Theare very low-growing plants (some are more notable for their foliage than for the famous daisy-like flowers), but here we are concerned with the much taller perennial, which grows to about 60cm (2ft).
They make excellent cut flowers: the first flush will come in June, perhaps a little earlier, and that could be the end of their display. The secret is to cut back the flowering stems when they are over. New blooms will then appear, going right through till September or October. They like good, fairly rich, soil, for they are hungry feeders, as you can imagine from the rate at which they produce flowers. For best results divide them every two or three years.
So far, the small and medium-sized plants have had it all their own way. From now on, however, the taller plants will be able to exercise some weight in the garden scene, and there are three wonderful ones to start the display of the `big guns’ in June.
Aruncus – Goat’s beard
Magnificent creamy plumes of star-like flowers make this one of the most conspicuous and distinguished inhabitants of any border. Fernlike foliage is another pleasing aspect of this impressive plant, which does best in a dampish soil. Unfortunately, it does not last very long —the display is usually over by July.
What can one say that is new about these stalwarts? They are so well known, and so well loved, that it is difficult to pay adequate tribute to their worth. Their appearance at Chelsea Flower Show every May, slightly before they are due to bloom, is always one of the highlights of the vast display there.
In fact, there are developments, for the traditional blues are now being challenged by some red shades. Even more striking is the very recent introduction of a dwarf variety, ‘Blue Flash’, which stands under 1m (3ft) and does not need staking. And as I write, I have on my desk seed of a secret, new, unnamed variety said to be a dwarf blue and white. If this, too, is a success there will be a new trend in delphinium growing, but I doubt whether the majestic tall ones will ever be dethroned. We need them, to give dimension to a border — and they will go on flowering until September.
A plant which is by no means so well known, or so widely stocked by nurseries, as it should be, though everybody knows the cooking variety. This is the ornamental, growing well over 2m (6ft) high given a shady spot by some water. Huge leaves, as big as elephant’s ears, make this a spectacular specimen in any garden, provided the garden itself is big enough not to he overshadowed by it.
Clearly, it is not for everyone, or every garden, but with the immense popularity of garden pools nowadays this could break up the somewhat harsh lines of so many artificial ponds and provide a more natural look. The foliage is matched by a glorious deep red flower, which unfortunately is over by July. But if you have the opportunity, get one or two plants.