Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
July, 2008
Regional Report

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How can you go wrong with white coneflower, white phlox, and magenta rose campion!

Perennial Combinations

Midsummer is such a beautiful time, and I would like to share with you some flower combinations I've come across lately that have captured my attention. Perhaps you will be inspired to plant something new for next year.

Rose Campion and Phlox
The rock stars of my perennial garden right now are the rose campions. These beauties have intense magenta flowers on slender stems 2 feet above silvery, soft foliage. They interweave with ice-white phlox that have just unfolded, and the combination is nothing short of stunning.

Lilies and Coneflowers
Another striking combination is shell-pink lilies sitting gently atop 4-foot stalks next to sturdy white coneflowers just coming into bloom. A pink and white combination that works beautifully. In the background spikes of cerulean blue agastache (also called hyssop) set off the pink and white. This is a color combination that's always a winner.

Moving to a different color palette are bright orange lilies with bright gold 'Indian Summer' rudbeckia. This variety of black-eyed Susan has larger flowers than the standard plant, and mine are almost 4 feet tall. It's hard to find something to go with orange lilies other than blue, but gold works quite well. In my garden, the brightness of these two plants is toned down a bit with white baby's breath and white coneflowers.

Daylilies and Roses
On a bike ride, I saw a planting of 'Stella d'Oro' daylilies (these are the ones that are in full bloom right now at only a foot tall). The buttery Stellas were planted with soft mauve rugosa roses. It was a beautiful combination, not only because of the two flower colors, but also because of the stunning deep green foliage on the roses.

English Walflowers and Verbena
If you want intensity, there's nothing quite like a planting of English wallflowers in eye-popping crystalline yellow-gold next to deep purple verbena or indigo blue lobelia. I saw these combined in a basket and couldn't take my eyes off them.

Shrub Combinations
Not everyone wants to plant flowers, and there are some beautiful shrub combinations to give splashes of color. The great advantage to shrubs is that the color is usually consistent throughout the growing season. I recently saw a stunning combination of dwarf blue spruce planted with dwarf red barberries. The silvery blue of the spruce was set off beautifully against the deep maroon of the barberries.

One of my favorite combinations is white hydrangeas planted with red smokebush. In this case, the deep red of the smokebush simply glows when set off by the hydrangeas.

As you look into improving your landscape for next year with the end-of-season sales, give some thought to combinations instead of just the color of one flower. And, don't forget to consider the foliage color as well.

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