Here’s a section of the middle of my long bed, which is finally showing some promise for the season.
Near the right we see ‘Moje Hammarberg,’ whose first bloom opened 6/6/05. Its loosely double, bright saturated purplish-pink flowers are sweetly scented, and come early and throughout the season. (This year everything is running relatively late; I haven’t seen other cultivated roses blooming to date.) This rose grows 3 or 4 feet tall and at least as wide. Like most rugosas, its wrinkly leaves are extremely healthy, its stems are extremely prickly, it will have large hips, and it’s hardy down to Zone 3 or 4 (it was introduced in
Next from the right: Narcissus leaves (dead-headed).
Middle: Lillium ‘
To the left, behind a tuft of daylily foliage and the Lillium, Centranthus rubra (Jupiter’s Beard, aka Red Valerian, among other names). You can see the first small blooms just starting on top of the Centranthus. This plant handles extremes of temperature, soil and moisture – despite its Mediterranean origins and reputed preference for dry, alkaline conditions, it proved healthy and vigorous for me last year (while my Verbascum was putrefying), with a long season of bloom. Individually, its clusters of small flowers don’t compare to, say, roses, but the plant will soon be much more flamboyant than pictured here. I don’t know why it’s not more popular, unless it’s because it’s too easy to grow for bragging rights, and gets large and flops a bit on its neighbors – that doesn’t bother me if a plant is easy to shear back (no picky pruning regimen, prickly thorns or overly invasive roots). Centranthus is also available in lighter pinks and white. It is featured in the book Antique Flowers, by Katherine Whiteside (1988), a great source for discovering old-fashioned and relatively neglected species.
And to the left of the daylily foliage, a pale pink Oenothera (evening primrose). Or actually, a number of seedlings from the Oenothera, as there did not appear to be a returning (perennial) stalk. These beautiful pinkish mauve flowers appear to glow brighter-than-white in low light conditions, and despite the species' common name, appear throughout the day.And behind Oenothera: Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), and pink-flowering Allium (chive). All three of these plants are easy and healthy, although often reported to be somewhat invasive I have only found the Oenothera to be so, and its seedlings are pretty easy to identify and pull up if necessary (unlike some invasive plants which spread by runners). The chive is of course tasty with scrambled eggs.
Back Row near right: Lupines and Lychnis coronaria (rose campion, not yet flowering).