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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Guide to June Gardening (page 2 of 5)

by John R. Dunmire

Roses and More: Flowering Shrubs

A second wave of flowering breaks in late May and June. Many old-fashioned roses (especially hybrid perpetuals like the rose-pink 'Baronne Prevost', zones 4 to 9 ) repeat the luxuriant look of double peonies. David Austin's English roses (zones 5 to 9) blend the old-fashioned beauty and fragrance of these heirlooms with sturdy, healthy plants in a surprising range of colors and plant sizes. Unlike the stiff and fussy hybrid tea roses, these roses make excellent landscape shrubs. Among the choicest are 'Graham Thomas', yellow flowers on a 4- to 8-foot plant; 'Heritage', shell-pink flowers on a 4-foot shrub; and 'Fair Bianca', white flowers on a 3-foot plant.

To see these and other roses in bloom, visit municipal rose gardens or nurseries. Then visualize a grassy panel bordered with informal groupings of these long-blooming and fragrant shrubs. Or consider using roses to replace a high-maintenance, low-performance hedge.

Classic Flowering Shrubs

Other shrubs that blossom in June are mountain laurel (Kalmia, zones 5 to 8), beauty bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis, zones 5 to 8), mock orange (Philadelphus, zones 5 to 8), and azalea (Rhododendron, zones 5 to 7).

The native mountain laurel (K. latifolia) with pink buds and pinkish white flower clusters has produced offspring with dark red buds ('Sarah' and 'Olympic Fire'), and with strongly marked flowers of dark purplish red and white ('Bullseye'). You can even find dwarf plants only 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall ('Elf' and 'Tiddlywinks'). They like partial shade (although they will take much sun in cool-summer regions), ample moisture, and acid soil, as do the deciduous azaleas whose bloom periods straddle late spring and early summer. All these shrubs are available from specialty catalogs if your nursery does not stock them.

Formerly notable chiefly as a parent of the showy Knap Hill and Exbury hybrids, the native flame azalea (R. calendulaceum, zones 5 to 7) lights up miles of Appalachian woodland with its yellow, red, or orange flowers. Paler, but making up in fragrance what it lacks in brilliance, the swamp azalea (R. viscosum, zones 3 to 9) produces clusters of clove-scented white to pink flowers on bushes 6 to 8 feet tall.

A relatively new group of deciduous azalea hybrids, Northern Lights (zones 3 to 8), is the answer to the gardener's need for azaleas that can withstand -40?F temperatures and still bloom. The plants grow 6 to 7 feet tall and as wide. Their lightly fragrant flowers vary from white ('White Lights'), to yellow and apricot ('Golden Lights' and 'Apricot Surprise') and lilac and pink ('Orchid Lights' and 'Rosy Lights').

Beauty bush seems to have received far less attention than it deserves. Its 1901 introducer, E. H. Wilson, claimed that it was one of his finest Chinese introductions, but later experts have had much fainter praise. According to Michael Dirr, horticulturist with the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, the flowers are magnificent, but the plant is a headache for the rest of the year. He refers to its height (6 to 10, possibly 15, feet tall); its arching, fountain-shaped top; and its scantily furnished lower stems. No one questions the beauty and abundance of the yellow-throated pink blossoms. Plant it in the background, and mask its bare legs with lower shrubs, or cut it to the ground after flowering.

Mock Oranges. Gardeners could lay the same charge against most mock oranges. They do become tall and leggy, and they're unremarkable when not blooming, but they deserve a place in the garden for their fragrance. Although many varieties can reach 6 to 15 feet tall, modest-sized varieties include 5-foot 'Galahad' and 'Glacier', and 2- to 3-foot 'Dwarf Snowflake'.

If you miss the lilacs of May, don't grieve: Extra-hardy Preston lilacs (Syringa prestoniae, zones 3 to 7) may still be blooming in June. 'Miss Canada', relatively new, has reddish buds and deep-pink flowers.

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