When my friend Elsa Bakalar was gardening in Heath she had enormous beds of perennials in bloom for a long season. I have never managed that with even one bed, but I do have a few flowers in bloom for almost 8 months of the year.
Instead of struggling to find a way to keep a single bed in continuous bloom I have concentrated on a big show in June, and inviting everyone over for The Annual Rose Viewing (this year on June 28 from 1-4 pm) when not only the 70 hardy roses are flowering, but also the peonies. We mow, prune, weed and clip all through June so that the Rose Walk and Long Peony Bed are at their best by the last Sunday in June, and then we relax for the rest of the summer.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t flowers before and after June. I had my first daffodil on April 14 this year, joining the scillas and snowdrops in the lawn. April and May bring the garden all kinds of blooming bulbs from the tiny scillas, snowdrops, grape hyacinth, to a world of daffodils and tulips, to bold statements like alliums. I must have alliums next year. There are blooming shrubs like rhododendrons, lilacs, and crabapples. Blooms high and low.
I don’t have perennials massed in my Lawn Beds, but clumps of campanula, cranesbills, achillea, astilbe, alchemilla, Siberian iris, lilies, coral bells, salvia and phlox keep things colorful and pretty. Many of these perennials will give a second flush of bloom if I remember to cut back spent blossoms properly.
There are other perennials that I would like to include, especially delphiniums. I’m not sure I’m worthy of the tall Pacific Giants, but I’ve got my eye on Connecticut Yankee, a smaller variety hybridized by the great photographer Alfred Steichen who adored delphiniums and grew five acres of them at his home in Connecticut.
Daylilies can be in bloom from late July through August, and possibly later, if a selection of varieties is chosen carefully.
I don’t have a lot in bloom in the fall, but I have blooming dahlias and always look forward to my bright pink Alma Potschke aster. I also have a nameless deep purple aster, and just planted boltonia which will make a large tall clump with a galaxy of starry little flowers. Some of the most experienced gardeners say a garden is not complete without boltonia.
The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls is celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year. If anyone needs a lesson in how to keep a garden in bloom for a long season all they have to do is walk across the Bridge every week from May until it closes in October.
I walked across the Bridge of Flowers last week and found the wisteria nearly finished and most of the bulbs are gone, but they are replaced by frilly bearded iris, glamorous tree peonies, fragile poppies, false blue indigo, golden globe flower and a pale pink clematis cascading through a deeply colored weigela.
There is also a lesson about green at the entry to the Bridge on the Shelburne side in the cool shade where there is a tapestry of hostas in varied hues. I feel the serenity the minute I step off the sidewalk.
Every walk across the bridge is a pleasant lesson in artistically combining perennials, annuals and shrubs all through the growing season. I’ve enjoyed it and learned more than I could from any illustrated book.
More lessons will soon be available because garden tour season is just around the corner. Mark your calendars.
The 21st Annual Franklin Land Trust Farm and Garden Tour will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28 from 10 am to 4 pm. This is a self guided tour that will take you to 12 farms and private gardens in the Deerfield area. You will be amazed at the variety of gardens and farms that thrive in our area. A luncheon is available. And, of course, you can stop in and tour Historic Deerfield and the the PVMA’s Memorial Hall Museum. The First Church of Deerfield is even holding a special Flower Sunday service at 10 am. There will be lots of flowers and a celebration of our farms and gardens. For more information logon to www.franklinlandtrust.org.
On July 11 the Greenfield Garden Club and the Sons and Daughters of Hawley are both having tours that will give you an excellent idea of the progression of bloom in July.
The Sons and Daughters of Hawley are featuring Hawley Artisans on their Garden Tour which will include vegetable gardens, perennial gardens, a cider orchard exhibits of quilts, photographs, watercolors, and new baby calves. A lunch will be available. For more information call Cyndie Stetson 339-4231.
The Greenfield Garden Club tour concentrates on Greenfield gardens, and includes a Daylily Festival where visitors can see (and buy) a wonderful variety of daylilies. I’ll have more news about this, and other tours soon.
June 6, 2009