Many times I have wanted to be covered in the tiny feathers of a junco when caught in a rain shower. I watch the rain drops roll off the feathers as they happily spend their April days scavenging the last seeds from our perennial beds. Why is it that wetness annoys me so much? My rain gear works, my feet are dry, my hood covers my yet to be mussed hair…it’s something about gardening that I want the competing of sunshine and soil under my fingernails at the same time.
Now if I were a plant, I’d love April’s weather. Showers, not a lot of wind, warming temperatures. What else could a four inch perennial want? Maybe some protection from slugs or some additional compost mixed in to get the microbes around my roots working.
Or maybe some herbs or companion flowers planted next to me to keep me company. Many gardeners like their garden design and layout in a very solitary orderly fashion: Every plant has a place; all plants are individualized, framed by a space of mulch around them and no room for any vagrants from reseedings. It’s a nice clean orderly garden, no clutter, no fuss. There are others who prefer mass chaos, survival of the fitness, the “oh I have an opening there, I’ll put a new plant in to see what happens!” kind of gardening mind. And the rest of us fall in between.
Great perennials to add to your beds in this kind of weather, if you prefer more plants than less, are Centranthus rubrus, Jupiter’s Beard and Sweet William, Dianthus barbatus, are two great perennials that add lots of flowers to your garden. Jupiter’s Beard is not for the faint of heart as it will take over an area quickly, while sweet williams are more centralized in their growing habit. Lily of the Valley is a great perennial to add to shady areas that will spread over the years and add beautiful bell flowers for years to come. There is even a pink flowering Lily of the Valley available. If you prefer a more controlled look, add Agapanthus or Asian lilies for summer color. Two of my favorites are perennial lobelias in blue and red. Their tall upright blooms add gorgeous color for months in the summer and the blooms withstand summer rains with ease.
Oops, the sun is out for at least twenty minutes, I need to run and stick my hand in some dirt! Enjoy the showers and the sun; it’s what makes Oregon so wonderful in the Spring!