One way to make gardening simpler is to grow only the hardiest plants in the perfect setting. Okay, that’s a great idea, but does that mean growing only dogs in the garden? I think not, as plants from bygone eras are making a comeback and, together with recent introductions, are awakening us to new and creative ways to use them. Here are some of my favourites:
- s = Full Sun
- f = Part Shade
- d = Full Shade.
- All measurements are height by width.
German garlic (Allium senescens)
An old-timer prolific in historic gardens and seen again recently in trial plots in Holland. Fabulous, because this pink, late-summer bloomer is long-lived, clump forming and drought tolerant. 30 to 60 cm x 30 cm; s f; dry to average soil; Zone 4
‘Jackmanii’ clematis (Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ cvs.)
Offers mid- to late-summer colour. These hardy varieties are perfect with late-blooming roses. Even though this clematis dies to the ground during winter, it produces beautiful blooms on new shoots that arise from the hardy roots. 4 m x 1 m; s f; moist, loamy soil; Zone 4
Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia)
One of North America’s best natives for exciting spring colour. Like small fireworks, this plant explodes out of the ground with its deep purple blooms each year, then vanishes during the summer heat. 30 cm, 20 cm; f d; moist, well-drained, rich, sandy loam; Zone 4
Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
Fabulous clumping plant with brilliant blue colour (60 to 90 cm x 60 cm; s; average, well-drained soil; Zone 3). In a slightly smaller space try ‘Siskiyou Blue’ fescue (Festuca idahoensis ‘Siskiyou Blue’), a newer introduction (45 cm x 30 cm, s f; average, well-drained soil, Zone 4, or lower with proper protection). A super Canadian website for grasses of all kinds is bluestem.ca.
Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia)
Forty years between dividing, and great foliage even when not showing off its deep red blooms. Gotta love it. 60 cm x 45 cm; s f; moist well drained, loamy soil; Zone 4