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Sizzling Summer Perennial Pairings

Early summer is great time to go perennial shopping, mostly because the flash of spring colour is behind us, and we have the time to focus on plant structure. That doesn’t mean that we ignore the foliar or flower colour, but we begin to appreciate those hues just a little bit more when we are not being inundated by those excessive March to May blooms. With that in mind, here are a few sizzling summer perennial pairings to brighten your garden.

Phlox ‘Violet Charme’ Paired with Sedum ‘Steel the Show’

Phlox and Sedum Perennial Plant Pairing

Here’s a compact (14” tall) Phlox paniculata with showy summer blooms of clear violet with a contrasting white eye that fits well in smaller gardens. It is being paired with Sedum ‘Steel the Show’, a low-growing stonecrop with unique silvery-blue foliage (which takes on purple highlights) smothered by rosy-pink flowers in autumn. Both are great pollinator plants and are hardy to USDA zone 3.

Delphinium ‘Red Lark’ Paired with Penstemon ‘Pristine Lilac Purple’

Delphinium and Penstemon Perennial Plants

The chunky coral-red spires of this Delphinium were a real colour breakthrough, and this cultivar is easier to place due to its modest height of 2.5’. The only problem here is the unique coral hue which can be difficult to complement unless you are willing to be brave with your colour scheme. Enter Penstemon ‘Pristine Lilac Purple’, whose sturdy stems of deep violet bring in the hummingbirds and contrast that coral perfectly.

Agastache ‘Crazy Fortune’ Paired with Gaura ‘Belleza Compact Light Pink’

Agastache and Gaura Perennial Plants

I stumbled upon this stunning Agastache ‘Crazy Fortune’ while visiting a nursery in Chilliwack and was really impressed with its variegated foliage with purple highlights towards the tips and complementing blue flowers (it is a sport of ‘Blue Fortune’). When paired with the equally long-blooming (July-Sept) Gaura ‘Belleza Compact Light Pink’ you get a haze of beautiful flowers and foliage that’s bound to attract attention from both pollinators and people.

Heliopsis ‘Tuscan Gold’ Paired with Achillea ‘Apricot Delight’

Heliopsis and Achillea Perennial Plants

Here’s two drought-tolerant (once established) perennials that may not impress in the garden centre but really come into their own once planted. The mid-height (24-30” tall) False Sunflower puts out a strong display of golden daisies from mid to late summer and these also make good cut flowers. It is complemented with a showy Yarrow whose name belies the fact that the blooms emerge a deep rose pink. Both are easy care once established and attract pollinators.

Leucanthemum ‘Banana Cream II’ Paired with Veronica Magic Show 'Ever After’

Leucanthemum and Veronica Perennial Plants

This is a pairing of two Proven Winners perennials that have a long bloom period, with the Shasta Daisy lasting a little later into the summer. Leucanthemum ‘Banana Cream II’ produces an abundance of gold-eyed white daisies that emerge a delightful soft yellow. These are complemented by the finger-like lavender-blue spires of Veronica Magic Show 'Ever After’, which have a great peek-through growing habit, allowing an ideal vantage point for background plants.

Digitalis ‘Panther’ Paired with Salvia nemorosa ‘Dark Matter’

Digitalis and Salvia Perennial Plants

The stately soft-pink spires of this Foxglove are beautiful enough on their own, but when coupled with the inky blue flower spikes of Salvia ‘Dark Matter’ we achieve a perfect yin and yang balance of pastel and dark colour. Impatient gardeners will be happy with ‘Panther’, as it blooms heavily in its first season and often repeats. ‘Dark Matter’ also reblooms for most of the summer with deadheading and has strong radial branching for a showy display.

Sedum ‘Dark Magic’ Paired with Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Solana’

Sedum and Coreopsis Perennial Plants

I am not normally a fan of Coreopsis grandiflora but seeing the nearly spherical blooms of the compact ‘Solana’ changed my mind. We are pairing this with the burgundy-black foliage of Sedum ‘Dark Magic’ from Terra Nova. The glossy foliage of this short upright sedum (12-15”) coupled with its dark pink flowers just pops against the green and gold of ‘Solana’. Just be sure to deadhead the latter to extend the flowering season.

Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ Paired with Achillea ‘Milly Rock Rose’

Eryngium and Achillea Perennial Plants

Sea Holly is as much an architectural feature as it is a beautiful perennial and Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ will not disappoint. The iridescent steel-blue flowers are borne on 2-3’ tall stalks that make great cut flowers and are both deer and drought resistant. We have fronted this specimen perennial with a compact Yarrow, ‘Milly Rock Rose’, which produces vibrant umbels of rose-red (that fade to a soft pink) all summer long.

Phlox 'Violet Charme' Paired with Veronica Magic Show 'Ever After'

Phlox and Veronica Perennial Plant Pairing

Lastly, I would like to illustrate how innumerable perennial combinations can be achieved as long as the flowering periods sync up and the plants are properly staged for height or spread. In our last pairing we are matching two perennials already coupled with others, Phlox ‘Violet Charme’ and Veronica Magic Show ‘Ever After’, to create an entirely new summer duo that is just as aesthetically pleasing as the combinations that preceded it. So, don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

All images Copyright 2024 MK Lascelle

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