BUTTERFLIES AND HUMMINGBIRDS
When I designed the 10-acre garden around our new home 11 years ago, I planted lots of perennials, right up to the residence, that would attract hummingbirds, song birds and butterflies. Here are some of my favourite perennials for this purpose.
All of these perennials are terrific garden performers that provide showy blossoms for an extended period of time.
• Foxglove ‘Camelot Lavender’ All foxgloves [sp. digitalis] attract hummingbirds, but not all will bloom as reliably in the second year and for as long as this variety. If you enjoy hummingbirds (and honey bees) you will enjoy the extremely floriferous nature of Camelot Lavender with the look of traditional foxglove and the modern benefits of disease resistance, and the earliest flowering Foxglove that I have ever seen. Plant in well-drained, compost-rich soil.
• Purple Coneflower ‘Magnus’ Magnus is an extremely winter-hardy plant that matures to a relatively short 60 cm but makes up for its stature by blooming for eight weeks or more on extremely aggressive plants. A butterfly magnet too.
• Blanket Flower ‘Arizona Sun’ [sp. Gaillardia] In a sunny position in the garden, you can’t keep this hardy perennial down. Showy, three-inchwide single blooms feature mahogany red with bright yellow petal edges. Prefers well-drained, infertile soils (in other words, sand-based soils).
• Coral Bells ‘Marmalade’ Coral Bells [sp. Heuchera] tolerate half day of shade, thrive in full sun, bloom for several weeks, lend themselves to cutting, and are never bothered by insects or diseases. The chartreuse leaves of Marmalade attract lots of attention during the entire growing season while the soft-coloured flowers bloom for up to seven weeks. Great for hummingbirds.
• Coral Bells ‘Palace Purple’ I grow a group of Palace Purple at the front of my perennial border nearest the road. They attract so much attention there that it is not unusual for pedestrians to stop, stoop and look at the name on the tag. This variety is larger than average and maintains its deep, darkcoloured foliage all summer long, even in a sunny location. The flowers are equally dark, adding a sense of mystery to any garden.
• Hosta ‘Guacamole’ Any hosta that blooms will attract its share of hummingbirds but this larger-than-average variety outperforms most perennial plants in the Canadian garden. Guacamole matures quickly to 50 cm, adds drama to a shady garden with its wide light-green leaves, and bears creamywhite flowers for an excessive four to six weeks in June through July.
• Bleeding Heart ‘Luxuriant’ I discovered this improvement to the traditional Bleeding Heart [sp. Dicentra] a number of years ago and have kept several growing near the forefront of my perennial border ever since. Soft rose/ pink blooms appear in mid-June and continue through September. Combined with its winter hardiness, there is no equal in the shade garden.
Other butterfly and hummingbird plants include: bee balm [sp. Monarda], butterfly weed [sp. Asclepias], joe-pye wee [sp. Eupatorium], pincushion flower [sp. Scabiosa] and yarrow [sp. Achillea]. Those listed above are just a few favourites of mine.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, The New Canadian Garden’ published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook. markcullen.com