Prep time: 15 minutes
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"Sentinel" by Nutfullin
(NC) If you’re heading to the nursery this spring, look for large-blooming plants that provide a big splash of colour. Here are five recommendations from the garden experts at Harrowsmith magazine.
Peonies. Although they have a short blossom time, each plant produces masses of large, often fragrant blooms, suitable for cutting and bringing indoors. Peonies are relatively free of pests and diseases. They are extremely winter hardy and when they are not in bloom, they produce clean, strong, dark green foliage that stands up to the summer heat.
Hydrangeas. The Endless Summer series of hydrangea, which flowers from late July through early October, provides great value. All hydrangeas hold their flowers over the winter so you can leave them intact as fodder for foraging songbirds during the winter months. The spent flowers gather snow when it falls softly, adding some winter interest to your garden. Prune plants in spring.
Lilacs. Common lilac (syringa vulgaris) is the workhorse of lilacs and is winter hardy even on the coldest part of the prairies. Blooming from mid- to late-May each year, it is the first of many lilacs to produce colour each spring and is fragrant and suitable for cutting. Give it lots of space, as it can grow up to three metres (10 feet) high and almost as wide. If you plant it with French hybrid lilacs, Preston lilacs and the Japanese tree lilac ‘Ivory Silk,’ you can enjoy up to six weeks of blooms.
Sunflowers. When it comes to big flowers and lots of them, you really can’t beat sunflowers. In addition to being attractive, sun-loving and fast-growing annual plants, they attract myriad pollinators, from honeybees to a wide variety of native bees. When the flower heads have matured, the seeds attract songbirds by the dozen.
Dahlias. If you have a sunny position in your garden, try some dinner-plate dahlias for a real wow-factor. Bloom season occurs around the middle of summer through late fall. While dahlias are technically an annual and will die with a killing frost, they are easy to overwinter indoors. Dig the tubers up after the tops have been hit with early frost and lie them in the sun for a day or two. Knock the dirt off each root and place them in a kraft paper leaf bag with dry peat moss or vermiculite to insulate them. Store in a cool, dry place like the basement. Inspect monthly, discarding any rotting tubers.
Find more gardening tips and ideas at harrowsmithmag.com.