Perennials provide waves of color; supplement with annuals

sundrops flowers in Grand Island NY
The large swath of sundrops is just one patch of perennials in Mary Vescio’s garden. She accents her gardens with statues and other objects, including the wizard and treasure box here. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“My garden makes me happy,” said Mary Vescio. “I love all the colors, all the different plants that are flowering.”

Vescio shared her landscape on the Grand Island Garden Walk on Sunday. See the list below for gardens you can visit this week.

Vescio has found that perennials are easier than annuals to use in her garden because perennials come back every year. However, the flowers on the perennials don’t last all summer. To maintain some constant color, she supplements her landscape with annuals, which bloom throughout the summer.

Vescio’s perennials bloom at different times during the year, which means she can enjoy waves of color throughout the spring and summer.

If you want waves of color, you can follow her lead. In spring she has iris and peonies.

After that came her penstemon, which finished blooming last week, and dogwood tree, which dropped its last petals the day before the garden walk. Vescio was disappointed that her visitors didn’t get to see it, but she was able to enjoy it. Tip: When you’re thinking of flowers, don’t forget about trees.

A couple of flowers that were blooming when I visited were lavender and a lovely yellow flower. I called that yellow flower sundrops and she called it primrose. Neither of us was wrong.

This is why we have Latin names for plants! I investigated a bit and found out that the plant in question is Oenothera fruticosa. It’s a member of the evening primrose family, though it flowers during the day. It’s commonly called sundrops, but it has other names, too, including southern sundrops, suncups or primrose. However, sundrops aren’t closely related to the true primroses (genus Primula). Sundrops are native to eastern North America.

perennials in Grand Island garden
Lavender is blooming now in this part of Mary Vescio’s garden, but it’s just part of the wave of color she enjoys. Behind the lavender is penstemon, the tall purple plant, which finished blooming last week. Iris, to the left of the statue, bloomed earlier in spring. The daylilies at right are budding. The green plant behind the lavender will bloom later with pink flowers. Vescio said it’s called sweet pepper plant. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

In Vescio’s garden, the next to bloom will be daylilies, which had buds when I visited.

In the next week or two, a number of other perennials will bloom: perennial hibiscus, liatris, bee balm, balloon flower and astilbe.

See more tips on getting waves of color here: Waves of spring flowers bring beauty to Hamburg garden

hibiscus with purple leaves, plus geraniums and strawberries in garden
Soon it will get large pink flowers, but for now, the large purple leaves of this perennial hibiscus add color to the garden. Annuals, such as the red geraniums, also add color. At front and center is a container with strawberry plants. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Gardens to visit this week

Garden walks

Note: The City of Tonawanda Garden Walk has been cancelled.

For more great gardening activities, see our Events page.

Open Gardens

Open Gardens will be held on Thursdays and Fridays through Friday, July 26.

In order to see the locations of the gardens as well as the times and dates that each garden is open, you need the booklet with the map and schedules. The Tours of Open Gardens booklet is available for a $10 donation at many local garden centers– see the list here.  You can also purchase it online at for $20.

New this year: Purchase an app for your smartphone wherever you buy your apps for $4.99.  Search for “Open Gardens.”

There will be about 70 exceptional gardens to visit in 12 areas: Southtowns Bouquet; Delaware District ; Elmwood Village & Allentown; Parkside; Northtowns East; Northtowns West; Lancaster; South Buffalo, West Seneca & Lackawanna; Niagara Trail; East Aurora & Holland; Cottage & Kleinhans, and Lakeshore.

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