Spring into Summer with Dahlias, Oriental Lilies and Asiatic Hybrids

Does your garden look ragged and dispirited by June when spring-flowering bulbs have finished blooming?

An easy, low maintenance solution is to extend your bulb season with summer-flowering bulbs! They provide the scent and color to revitalize your garden and mix beautifully with your existing perennials and shrubs. Early blooming groundcovers such as ajuga, aubrieta, and phlox can look dull in summer, and summer bulbs can rejuvenate these sections of your garden. An easy, foolproof source to learn what your summer bulb options are for your particular garden is the newly redesigned TulipWorld.com. The new e-store from Holland carries a stunning collection of all the summer-blooming bulbs and can match them with your tastes and preferences.

To ensure that your garden is beautiful and colorful right up to that first frost in the fall, plant lots of Dahlias. Dahlias provide color and beauty in abundance and are available in an astonishing variety of color and form. Dwarf varieties such as the Gallery series grow only 12 inches tall, while some full-sized dahlias will reach 6 feet! The flower shapes range from the perfectly tight round ball of the pompom through the array of spikes of the cactus-flowered. Small pompom forms such as ‘Deepest Yellow’, which grows 2 feet tall, are ideal for brightening up areas where low growing perennials have already stopped blooming or for the front of a border. Larger forms such as ‘Duet’, a decorative form with white-tipped red flowers grows 30 to 33 inches tall, are exquisite companions to other perennials in the border like white Japanese anemones or cimicifuga or to other Dahlias, like ‘Eveline’. No matter which Dahlias you choose, they’ll all bloom continuously from July until whenever frost arrives.

The Harlequin flower, (Sparaxis tricolor), is another early-summer flowering bulb that adds a color punch to tired borders or perks up walkways and patios. Each tiny, star-shaped flower has a black heart, and the flower masses are a cheerful mix of bright colors. Growing 10 inches tall, Harlequin flowers are superb in pots or in borders in front of larger perennials. Try some as well around herbs such as lavender and rosemary, whose soft colored foliage is a great contrast to Sparaxis’ vivid blooms.

You might also want to try some at the feet of Lilies; these Kings of the summer border like to have low-growing plants at their feet. The distinctive sword-like foliage and gigantic blooms of lilies are magnificent in themselves, but lilies are also magnificent season-spanners. To make the most of your lilies, choose a variety of classes for continuous bloom from June through late August.

The Asiatic Hybrids, most of which grow about 2 feet tall, are the first to bloom, usually in June. Trumpet or aurelian lilies, such as ‘Golden Splendor’ and ‘Regale’, bloom between late June through August; they have large trumpet-shaped flowers and grow 4 to 5 feet tall.

Oriental lilies, such as ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Casa Blanca’, bloom between July and September, and grow 2 to 4 feet tall. While there are many other classes of lilies, a variety of just these three types will fill your garden with gorgeous color and scent throughout the summer.

Use lilies by making colorful bouquets in your perennial border, mixing them with Astrantia and Centranthus, or grow them in pots as elegant accents.

Another beautiful summer flowering bulb is Ixia ‘Mabel.’ It grows 12-20 inches tall and smothers itself in hot-pink blooms in early summer. Ixia ‘Tita’ has masses of soft apricot-pink shading to warm red-pink. Both are equally attractive in containers or borders, or even planted along a garden path between groundcovers.