I’m Leigh Davenport, a northern Ohio gardener with over two decades of experience.
This is my favorite color combination in the gardens now, Lemony Lace elderberry (Sambucus racemosa, Zone 3–7) and larkspur. Many of the best garden combinations are serendipitous, but this is one I planned that really works. Back in the chill of February, I planted QIS Dark Blue larkspur (Consolida ajacis, annual) seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Larkspur actually needs the freezing and thawing to help it germinate. It’s one tough customer. And it self-sows. Lovely!
More larkspur, mixing with another annual that likes to germinate and grow in cool early spring soils—nigella (Nigella damascena, annual).
Old-fashioned peonies (Zones 3–8) in bloom.
Monarch butterflies on a huge patch of blue mistflower (Conoclinum coelestinum, Zones 5–9). This North American native perennial blooms from summer into fall with masses of fluffy lavender-blue flowers that are beloved by butterflies. Be warned, though—it spreads, so give it room to run.
The dramatic white flowers of flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris, annual) show up beautifully against a backdrop of darker foliage and flowers. If you let it go to seed, it will often self-sow around the garden.
Waterlily autumn crocus (Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, Zones 4–7) is a bulb that puts up leaves in spring, retreats underground all summer, and then produces these dramatic flowers in fall.
The ruffled petals of a peony poppy (Papaver somniferum, annual) are almost upstaged by the beautiful silvery foliage. These poppies are another annual that germinates and grows best in the cool part of the year and will happily self-sow in most gardens, provided you haven’t put down too thick a layer of mulch for the seedlings to get a foothold.
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