Spring perennials get a lot of attention as they welcome the growing season and close out the cold, bleak winter, but there’s a magical quality about summer perennials that too often goes unsung. The summer days grow long and languid with a stillness that feels like time suspended – a treasured luxury where we can simply be and observe the beauty around us. Summer perennials celebrate this ephemeral time by capturing our eye with their loveliness, charming us to pause and observe the infinite enchantment and endless wonder that can be found in the study of a simple flower. Here are some summer perennials to enjoy:
The quintessential flower. Arbiter of the fate of many a love relationship. Ambassador of freshness. It’s hard not to be happy in the presence of daisies. These large, cheery flowers with their trouble-free foliage make Shasta Daisies a perfect addition to a sunny spot in the garden (and their white color looks stunning in a moon garden). You’ll be able to enjoy their blooms all summer long, from early to late in the season. Tolerant of a wide range of soils and a favorite of butterflies, they make great cut flowers, often lasting for a week or more in an arrangement. Some varieties to consider:
Becky – This show-stopper boasts blooms that are 3 inches across on sturdy stems that are 3-4 feet tall. Petals are brilliant white and this variety is among the longest blooming.
Alaska – A bit shorter than Becky, Alaska is particularly drought-tolerant and thrives in full sun.
Snowcap – A dwarf version of Shasta Daisy, this is lovely in both the front of the garden border as well as containers. Drought, deer and rabbit-resistant.
Coreopsis (a.k.a., Tickseed) has sunny daisy-like flowers that bloom in a variety of colors, such as yellow, pink, red and bi-color. The flowers blossom early summer to midsummer and benefit from a good shearing when they get a bit sparse looking late in the season. Attractive to both birds and butterflies, Coreopsis reach a height of 1-3 feet tall. Explore these varieties:
Rising Sun – Begins blooming weeks earlier than other varieties of Coreopsis, with semi-double, fringed golden blooms and a red dot at the base of each petal. Two-inch flowers are fairly large for this species.
Lanceleaf – While Coreopsis is a carefree species overall, Lanceleaf takes it to the next step of complete effortlessness. Deep, golden blooms with a deeper yellow center are totally charming and look perfect in a cottage garden.
Moonbeam – Delicate, pale butter-hued blooms atop thin, wispy foliage are a graceful addition to any garden, blooming from midsummer to fall.
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)
Displays both single and double daisy-like blossoms in colors ranging from orange to bright yellow. Heat-tolerant, sun-loving, and light-frost tolerant, Gaillardia are deer-resistant and attract pollinators with their nectar-rich blooms. They are considered short-lived perennials (2-3 years) but can re-seed, or you can divide them after two years. Varieties include:
Oranges & Lemons – Apricot petals fringed in sunny yellow with an oppositely-hued yellow center rimmed in warm orange, pop against their blue-green foliage.
Burgundy – Solid, deep red flowers with yellow centers that deepen to soft red, this variety is particularly hardy.
Commotion Moxie – Unique, trumpet-like golden petals with bright orange centers make this variety a standout in any garden.
A universal favorite both for its beauty and wonderful fragrance, lavender looks lovely in the border and thrives in well-drained soil and sunny locations as well as in containers. Attracts butterflies and bees while discouraging deer and rabbits. Dry flowers to use in sachets or as potpourri. While our area with its cold winters and humid summers can pose challenges for some varieties of lavender, these do well in New Jersey:
AromaticoTM Blue Imp – Deep, aubergine flowers bloom earlier than other varieties and grow to a height of up to 20.”
Phenomenal – Extremely hardy. Cold-tolerant and does not die back in the winter. Disease-resistant, it tolerates heat and humidity, reaching a height of 3 feet.
Hidcote – Tall spikes of deep purple blooms. A heat-tolerant variety that grows to 3 feet in height.
One of the most dependable perennials, blooming from early to late summer and through early fall, depending on the cultivar. Dark green foliage complements a variety of bloom colors, including mauve, raspberry, purple, yellow or white. Ideal for that sunny, dry, hot spot in the garden. Attracts butterflies and birds that eat the seeds. Varieties we love include:
Double Scoop Cranberry – The Double Scoop series feature a pom-pom bloom surrounded with a flare of longer petals. “Cranberry” is a perfect, clear deep red, but you can also find the Double Scoop in Raspberry, Bubblegum and Orangeberry.
Greenline – Chartreuse buttony-blooms that brighten any garden and flower earlier than most varieties, from June through August.
Leilani – Blooms from July to October, boasting rich, golden petals with green-golden centers. Extremely heat-tolerant with strong stems that make them perfect for cut flowers.
Main Image Photo Credit: Monrovia – Shasta Daisy