Though many perennials bloom for only two to three weeks, these stay in flower twice as long. Whether you want to grow perennials in containers or flowerbeds, the best time to plant them is now.
Songbird Series columbine (Aquilegia [Songbird Series] cultivars), Zone 3.
Blooming from spring to early summer, Songbird Series columbines produce long-spurred, upward-facing large flowers above attractive grey-green leaves. Growing 45 centimetres tall by 30 centimetres wide and preferring a partly shaded location in average to rich garden soil, columbines attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
Look for blue-and-white ‘Bluebird’, red-and-white ‘Cardinal’, pure white ‘Dove’, yellow ‘Goldfinch’ and rose-and-white ‘Robin’.
Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla cvs.), Zone 3.
Prized for their branching sprays of forget-me-not–like flowers in spring and their silvery foliage, brunnera cultivars favour a shady site in moist soil that’s rich in organic matter (such as compost and leaf mould).
Growing 35 centimetres tall by 40 centimetres wide, butterfly-attracting ‘Jack Frost’ bears silver leaves with green veins and edges, while the foliage of ‘Looking Glass’ is almost entirely silver. ‘Alexander’s Great’ bears huge, heavily silvered leaves and grows 35 centimetres tall by 65 centimetres wide.
Seduction Series yarrow (Achillea [Seduction Series] cvs.), Zone 4.
Unlike older selections that tended to run, Seduction Series yarrows have a vigorous, compact habit. Clusters of up to 40 small daisy-like flowers are held in flat-topped clusters above fernlike foliage. The plants themselves grow 50 centimetres tall by 60 centimetres wide.
‘Saucy Seduction’ bears fuchsia flowers, while ‘Strawberry Seduction’ produces vivid red blooms with golden centres; ‘Sunny Seduction’ has bright yellow blossoms. Happiest in average garden loam in a full-sun location, Seduction Series varieties attract butterflies and beneficial insects.
Sombrero Series coneflower (Echinacea [Sombrero Series] cvs.), Zone 5.
Hot-coloured Sombrero Series echinaceas have a compact, branching habit, and they bloom earlier—and for longer—than older varieties. Like all coneflowers, they prefer a full-sun location in good garden loam that drains efficiently. Sombrero cultivars grow 50 centimetres tall by 60 centimetres wide and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Whether planted in solid blocks of colour or as a multicoloured mix, our favourites include white Blanco (‘Balsomblanc’), orange-tipped Hot Coral (‘Balsomcor’), brilliant Lemon Yellow (‘Balsomemy’), dazzling Flamenco Orange (‘Balsomenco’), intense Salsa Red (‘Balsomsed’) and subtle Sandy Yellow (‘Balsomselo’).
Reblooming daylily (Hemerocallis cvs.), Zone 3.
One of the easiest perennials to cultivate, daylilies grow best when they’re sited in a full-sun location in rich garden loam. Unlike standard types, reblooming daylilies flower repeatedly from early to late summer. Shady conditions and dry soil will reduce flowering.
Look for reblooming daylilies such as red ‘Anzac’, yellow ‘Custard Candy’, double-flowered pink ‘Dublin Elaine’, fragrant pink ‘Elegant Candy’, wine-red ‘Lexington Avenue’, dwarf burgundy ‘Little Wine Cup’, fragrant cream-and- purple ‘Pandora’s Box’ and dark-veined ‘Purple de Oro’.
Japanese anemone (Anemone ×hybrida cvs.), Zone 5.
From late summer until frost, Japanese anemones produce white or pink flowers with yellow centres on plants that grow 90 centimetres tall by 40 centimetres wide. They fare best in a partly shaded location in good garden loam that drains well. The flowers attract butterflies and honeybees; Japanese beetles are a pest in areas where they’re prevalent.
Among the Japanese anemone cultivars we love best are pure white ‘Honorine Jobert’, semidouble pink ‘Königin Charlotte’, rose- pink ‘September Charm’ and semidouble white ‘Whirlwind’.
Kickin Series fall aster (Symphyotrichum [Kickin Series] cvs.), Zone 4.
Famous for its tagline, “Kickin Asters and Takin’ Names,” this series of fall-blooming asters is naturally compact and grows just 60 centimetres tall by 70 centimetres wide. From late summer until frost, plants are covered with daisy-like blooms, perfect for flowerbeds and containers. For maximum flower production, site these butterfly and bee magnets in a sunny location in good garden loam.
We like to mix and match Kickin Carmine Red (‘05-196-10’) with Kickin Pink Chiffon (‘06-50-11’), Kickin Lavender (‘06-51-1’) and Kickin Lilac Blue (‘07-49-4’).