(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 17, 2008. our comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
Dianthus come with single and double flowers that will come back year after year, often staying green in the colds months of winter. They are a staple in my garden, often to be found growing under rose bushes - giving air to the bushes and flowers to the ground. The best part about this wonderful plant is the simple fact they will grow in the heat and cold making them a favorite of mine. Thank you to poppysue for the image.
With ray-like flowers, theimple to grow Gaillardias will be the king of your summer garden. If you keep this plant deadheaded, it will never stop blooming all summer long. There are annual and perennial types, so be careful when you buy. My garden's Blanket Flowers all came from trips into the wild and bringing seeds back. Thank you to kattamos for this image.
This wonderful garden plant will quickly fill any area given it to fill. From the very tall to the very short, Solidago is blooming in the garden when the fall winds start to blow. With runners sent out in all directions, this plant can be aggressive in the garden, but well worth the effort. To keep taller varieties in check, I trim in half on July 4th. Thank you to frostweed for the image.
From the tall to the short, grasses are versatile in the garden. They can get very big or be very small. They can take from dry to moist, shade to sun... really one of the best groups of plants to fill in any empty niches in the garden. They can also be left tall in winter for added interest, giving seeds and shelter to birds and small mammals. Thank you to Wingnut for the image.
Given a little bit of moist soil these plants will grow tall and strong year after year. The blooms come in all sorts of tropical looking colors and the hardy and even native varieties are stunning in the summer and fall garden. Care should be taken in the planting and planning to give room for the plant to reach full size and stature. Placing it in too small an area is the biggest problem people have with this plant. Thank you to frostweed for the image.
Kings of the garden, Alcea can be found growing from the southwest to the northeast in gardens both dry and wet. The only core need is good soil and sun. They will grow leaves the first year from seed and bloom the second year, so planting two years in a row is needed to keep them blooming every year. They are short lived but I have never had to plant seeds after my first year of blooms. The seeds will self sow in the whole garden and are easy to pull if they are not wanted. Thank you to Kell for the image.
Lavandula is the perfect plant for the dry, sunny parts of the garden. This plant will not thrive in moist or wet soils. I have grown it only in raised beds to make sure that it keeps good drainage. Lavender is often looked at like a shrub but it looks sharp in the perennial garden. There are smaller varieties that are well suited in the flower garden. Thank you to hczone6 for the image.Liatris has tall stalks of purple that rise above the tall grass like leaves. The flowers open from the top downward, so be ready for the blooms to be waiting to open until all the stalk is ready to bloom. The only downfall for this wonderful plant is wet winter soils. Thank you to mgarr for the image.
Monarda is an easy to grow plant, and is the biggest draw for bees and butterflies to my summer garden. The flowers look very much like firecrackers bursting open to greet the day. In the Texas heat I grow these in part shade but in other areas they might be better suited for the sun. The biggest problem I have with this plant is powdery mildew, but it is well worth the effort. Thank you to poppysue for the image.
From the newer Walkers' Low to the tall growing old fashioned types, Calamintha is an herb that is well loved by gardeners and cats alike. The blue flowers are not very showy but look sharp in a mixed bed. The taller varieties might need staking. They bloom from the first warm day of spring till the last day of fall, then leaks into winter. Thank you poppysue for the image.
Paeonia is an old fashioned favorite is the classic in the garden. This plant has one simple rule to follow---plant and forget! The plant is best forgotten and left alone for years and years. They are not for the gardener who loves to move things around each year or who does not plan to live in one place for a while. Once plants are moved they will sulk and not bloom for one to several years afterward. However, once they get started they will not stop blooming for years and years to come. Thank you to poppysue for the image.