It’s Biennial Time

Since June is not, inevitably, “The Month of Roses” (I like to think so, too!), let’s face it and admit that in northern sections, at least a few roses are in full bloom before the last days of June. 

Biennial TimePin

It is the season, however, when many lovely biennials come into their own. And just when they are most needed to ease that panicky feeling familiar to all gardeners after the exuberance of spring color.

Why Are Biennials Not More Widely Grown? 

Perhaps because of their transient quality, the necessity of discarding them once they are through blooming. 

If this has deterred you from growing biennials, you are enduring a needless interval of “garden-let-down” when biennials are bursting with eagerness to begin creating delightful, early-summer pictures.

If you are one of the many gardeners facing this annual lack-of-color crisis, a visit to the nearest nursery will solve your dilemma. 

Most nurseries, anticipating just this emergency, will have well-started biennials all ready to take over a colorless border. Many of them will already be in bloom.

Foxgloves For Muted Color

There will be foxgloves for muted color, in groups, as specimen plants, or for adding quaint, charming dignity to backgrounds. 

Foxgloves take happily to naturalizing, and they are never more at home than in a cool, shady nook or perhaps along a brook. 

Just about any spot at all is the spot for these beautiful, tall spires of rose, lavender, yellow, and cream bells, each freckled with brown.

Shirley Hybrid Foxgloves

The Shirley hybrid foxgloves have been persuaded to produce bells around the stalk rather than suspended, as in the older varieties. This gives a fuller and still more colorful effect.  

Foxgloves need a good bit of elbow room, and a foot apart is not too much space to allow. Eighteen inches would be even better. Shade for a portion of the day and plenty of moisture will ensure maximum pleasure from foxgloves.

Canterbury Bells

It is difficult to exercise proper restraint when adding canterbury bells to a list of biennials. 

It is amazing to watch such an ordinary-looking plant put on dozens of plump buds, then burst into a mass of big, fluted cups and saucers or elongated, funnel-shaped bells that make a breath-taking display of deepest blue, lavender, rose, and white. 

To have a group of Canterbury bells in your garden once is to be unable, ever, to face June without them.

If Canterbury bells are kept free of dead blooms, they will remain in bloom till late summer. They are amiable in every way, never objecting to being moved about to make any spot, in sun or shade, so much more lovely by their presence.

In addition to all this beauty, they bloom while one waits for roses, making the garden a delight instead of wearing an in-between-season look.

Sweet William

The biennial for sugar ‘n spice is sweet william. Nowadays, this old-time favorite had acquired a more sparkling intensity of color than when it wore mild candy-striping. 

Check your seed catalogs to find descriptions of some exciting new sweet williams. A few clumps of sweet william will brighten any area for at least six weeks.

Consider Biennials

Though foxgloves, canterbury bells, and sweet williams are probably first in mind when one considers biennials, there are others, such as:

  • Hollyhocks
  • Wallflowers
  • Verbascum (mullein-pink)
  • English daisies (Bellis)
  • Pansies

As a group, biennials require no special care or elaborate soil preparation in return for their many weeks of bloom—beginning in early June and lasting until mid-July. Don’t let your garden go another year without biennials!

44659 by Marguerite P. Kunkel