What to do when your beautiful spring garden suddenly has a large empty space in August? Here are some perennial pairings that I’ve discovered over the years to hide declining foliage and gaps in the border.
Lupinus perennis and Lobelia siphilitica
Let the native lupine foliage “ripen” like bulb foliage in order to photosynthesize. The lupines will self-seed around the area, too, so don’t deadhead or supplemental water. Interplant another native perennial, Lobelia siphilitica, the great blue lobelia, to fill in and bloom from August into September. Let this one self-seed also for even more color next year! This pairing prefers dappled light but can tolerate full sun in rich soil garden beds.
Papaver orientalis and Gypsophilia paniculata
Oriental poppies sure are glorious in late May, blooming with Siberian iris. Again, the poppy foliage has to be allowed to go brown and ugly in order to create energy for next year’s bloom. Disguise this look with low, billowing Baby’s breath in either light pink or white. Both plants enjoy dry, full sun conditions. The poppy will resprout fresh green foliage in the fall beneath the Baby’s breath, which by then will be cut back and reblooming slightly.
Dicentra spectabilis and Clematis ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’
The old-fashioned bleeding heart naturally turns yellow and brown by August. Gradually remove this foliage. If you plant a trailing clematis called ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’ behind the bleeding heart, it will scramble over the ground to fill the emptying space. You’ll see a flush of fresh new foliage and pale blue flowers in August from the clematis! Be sure to set this combination in the rear of a border to give the clematis plenty of space to run, keeping it out of a mowed lawn area. No need to stake the clematis, either.