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Jun. 23, 2021 | Wednesday
Editorials and Opinions
Gardening: Mix annuals, perennials to add colour
Hostas can thrive in the shade of your garden but you need to actively apply bug and slug treatments. (Kevin MacLean)

This is the third in a 10-week gardening column series, organized by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Communities in Bloom committee.

Janet Ennamorato
Special to The Lake Report

The marriage of annuals and perennials makes for a gorgeous show all through the season. The effort involved in selection, placement and care is well worth it.

The quality of your soil is critical. Amending with fresh triple mix each year ensures a great start to the long-awaited warmer seasons and working in a slow-release fertilizer is a huge bonus to all the plants.

The perennial “base” you choose frames the space for annual fillers. It is best to consider hardy, reliable perennials to lower overall maintenance.

Below are some great annual/perennial combinations you’re going to love trying:

1. Sedum comes in many varieties: a spectacular low sedum “takes immense Atlantis” works really well with “Pink Diamond” petunia. Of course, sedum “Frosted Fire” and “Night Embers,” the showy upright varieties, perform beautifully from spring to fall with a chartreuse annual like Nicotiana alata “Lime Green.”

2. Russian sage (especially the shorter varieties that stand firmly upright) and lavender “Sweet Romance” (with the deeper shades of purple) both thrive on neglect. Great annual companions would be “Rio” portulaca for hot spots.

3. Rudbeckia are juglone tolerant and the “Irish Eyes” cultivar is a beautiful colour choice. What fun to combine this with salvia “Salsa Purple.”

4. Echinacea look gorgeous in the garden and work well in containers. Try “Yellow My Darling” with nemesia “Sunsatia Blood Orange” to provide dramatic accent.

5. Veronica is a long spike flowering perennial that brings movement into the garden. It is said that Veronica is host to lady bugs. “White wands” is a romantic, wispy white that honey bees love. Make magic with these ecologically supportive plants by combing them with Nigella Love in a Mist.

Here are a few shade-loving perennials for the framework:

1. Hostas, with an almost endless variety of sizes and texture of leaves, cause no fuss, as long as you proactively sprinkle the garden with bug and slug treatment. A spectacular hosta to check out is “Empires Wu” growing three to four inches tall and five to six inches wide. The annual companion to enhance Wedgewood hosta is begonia “John Smith.”

2. Heuchera “Lime Ricky” and coleus “Colour Blaze Golden Dreams” are solid choices.

3. Brunnera has a great leaf structure and in combination with Hakonechloa macra aureola. Again begonia provides an eye-popping colour and textural contrast.

With many more wonderful perennial combinations to consider, there’s no stopping us now.

Janet Ennamorato is a garden designer and member of the NOTL Horticultural Society. www.creativegardendesigns.ca/the-designer

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