May 03, 2016 10:40AM
March was a beautiful month, with lots of good weather for chores in the garden. If you haven’t done your spring clean-up yet, do it now, as planting time is here. The garden centers are overflowing with beautiful annuals and perennials. I love to get lost among the rows of plants! My favorites are perennials. If you buy them in bloom, make sure you leave space around them for the next round of blooming perennials. That way you’ll have color all summer long, and they will return again year after year. Fill in those spaces with colorful annuals, which will last all summer and into the fall. Last month, we covered ground covers, and I want to mention one last variety of Thyme, Thymus cocaeneus, which is very pretty. It is a flat-growing Thyme, with dark green leaves smothered with bright, magenta and red flowers in early summer. It is a strong grower. Use it as a drought tolerant lawn substitute or for planting between flagstones, as it tolerates medium foot traffic. The creeping Thymes are easily divided in spring or early fall and even small pieces will take root and grow. Thyme is an evergreen and attracts beautiful butterflies. I have discovered a few new perennials, which some of you might enjoy. The first is a diminutive plant which maintains a tidy, upright habit while producing eye-catching orange blossoms over a long season. It’s called Kudos Mandarin (Agastachee kudos). Once established this plant is drought-resistant and it will be a special attraction for hummingbirds. It produces fragrant blooms from July through September. It is also known as Hummingbird Mint. The Kudos Mandarin has few insect problems, although mildew can affect the leaves during dry summers. Plant it in full sun, but some afternoon shade will protect the leaf color of this yellow -foliaged Agastachee. Do not fertilize the first spring after planting. In subsequent years, fertilize once in early spring with 10-10-10 fertilizer or a layer of well-rotted compost. At the end of the season, cut stems back half-way to protect the plants from any damaging winter winds. It is hardy for this area. Continuing with yellow flowering plants, another one I like is the Meadow Rue (Thalictrum flavum), also new PP. In early spring, Yellow Meadow Rue makes a bright display with striking clumps of blue and green foliage. In June and July, clusters of bright yellow flowers on six-to-seven inch stalks complete the picture. You’ll certainly notice the blooms’ sweet fragrance downwind from this plant. This tall and graceful perennial won an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, and it deserves wider use in the garden. Plant in full or part-sun. It will grow to three feet tall. We’ll have more magnificent plants next month! If you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected] In the meantime, Happy Gardening!