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Home and Lifestyle

Summertime blues

… and pinks, reds, orange and yellows

Kane County Magazine

T he dog days of summer always bring great color to the garden, even though the weather is warm and sometimes rain is not reliable. I always ask clients if they have any dislikes in the garden and rarely do they say “color.” Occasionally, I have clients that don’t like a specific color, which is certainly fine, but most agree that the more color in the garden the better.

My best advice for this time of year? Stop by a garden center and start browsing. Pick the ones that are blooming while you visit, and you will be guaranteed that bloom at the same time of year for years to come.

This is certainly not a complete list, but it will help you down the right path to color in the summer garden. Here are a few of my favorite colorful summer perennials: 

Sun Perennials

Salvia
These stalwarts of the garden are the dark blues you see popping up everywhere. Want to know a secret? When they start to flop over after blooming, cut them completely to the ground and they will come back up and bloom again!

Bee Balm
A vigorous plant that does well in hot sun and attracts hummingbirds and pollinators

Butterfly Weed
You must have orange bloomer for all gardens; it’s a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly

Coneflowers
There are hundreds of varieties and colors, including yellow and orange 

Daylilies
Don’t roll your eyes at me. There are so many nice colors other than the orange “ditch lilies” that you see everywhere. Daylilies are the fancy girls of the garden! “Bela Lugosi” is my favorite.

Coreopsis
Dainty yellows and golds; it’s a good cut flower, has a long bloom time and is easy to grow 

Allium
I love the ornamental onions. (Ask every design client of mine
I bet they have one or two in their yard and love them too!) They are reliable, easy, clean, no maintenance and attractive.

Geranium (Cranesbill)
A huge family of plants and every single one is different. They consist of mostly blues and purples, but also a few pinks and whites. They serve as good groundcovers and are great for reliable color and texture. 

Shade Perennials

Hosta
Again … stop with the eye rolling! There are so many cool hostas. Make sure you site them correctly (shade not sun!) and the leaves, colors, textures and size will blow you away! Favorites of mine this week? June, Sum and Substance, Liberty, Patriot and Blue Cadet.

Coral Bells
Another family of plants that is enormous. Every color leaf, from darkest black to the brightest lime green. The orange and purple of “Caramel” looks outstanding next to ferns. 

Foam Flowers/Foamy Bells
Similar to Coral Bells, but it has more dainty, deeply colored veins.

Ligularia
Tall spikes, large leaves, great for shady spots that need exaggerated color.

Ferns
Not just the big Ostrich Ferns, but there are new varieties with colored stems, heavily cut leaves and more. Look for “Dre’s Dagger” or “Ghost” 

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