Skip to content

Column: Right mix ensures colour throughout the growing season

Hanbidge on Horticulture: How to choose and grow the best perennials – Part I.
Speedwell are some simply beautiful perennials that are well-behaved and give a long period of colour.

As I am eagerly awaiting some new perennials for my garden, I thought that sharing why these plants are going to become part of my garden was a great idea for a series of articles. Luckily for you, I also bought a few extra to share with other gardeners.

First and foremost, I thought it was important to ensure that throughout the entire growing season I would have colour in my garden. Having colour in the garden from April to October is not only beautiful but also helps some of our smaller critters to thrive for as long as possible. I love to plant for the bees, the butterflies and the hummingbirds, too, and care enough to ensure they have a selection of food and pollen in the very early spring and as far into the fall as possible.

One of the biggest challenges when growing perennials is to successfully have colour in your garden throughout the growing season. This is due to many perennials having a short season of bloom. Also, as we live with weather that is not always the same every year, this blooming time will change from year to year. Thus, a great solution is to grow perennials with a longer bloom time.

The other thing that I insist on with perennials is to only grow those that behave. Just because you grow perennials that give colour throughout the growing season does not mean that you need to be out in the garden day and night keeping it looking beautiful. Gardening with the philosophy of live and let live is possible but only if you have plants that respect this philosophy. I prefer not to be a slave to any living thing so the last thing that I want to add into my low-maintenance garden is a perennial that does not stay where it was planted. These perennials that spread everywhere are weeds and thus do not have a place in my garden.

A selection of Veronica spicata also known as Speedwell are some simply beautiful perennials that are well-behaved and give a long period of colour. They are very attractive to butterflies and bees. Please read on for particulars on each cultivar. Please note that all are upright, clump forming perennials with dense slender spikes of star-shaped flowers that are attractive to both butterflies and bees. The blooms open from the base upwards and do well in full sun to partial shade.

V. spicata Red Fox has vibrant fuchsia-pink flowers from mid to late summer. is a bushy, upright and clump forming perennial which is 12 to 16 inches (30-40cm) tall and spreads 12 to 14 inches (30-35cm).

V. spicata Royal Candles’is a favourite Speedwell of many perennial gardeners. The slender spikes of star-shaped deep blue-purple flowers show from early to late summer. They are about the same height and spread as ‘Red Fox’ Speedwell.

V. spicata Sunny Border Blue has a bushy clump of crinkled dark green leaves with spikes of deep violet-blue flowers for many weeks. It will reach a height of 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) and spreads about the same as its’ height. It was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993.

Plants are in 3.5 to 4 inch pots and the cost per plant is $10. There are limited numbers so place your order now to . Once you receive a confirmation along with a bill, you will need to promptly e-transfer the total amount due in order to guarantee your order is filled. Pick up in Saskatoon. If there are any leftovers, they will be available for sale at a future date. Keep up with all of the plants available on our facebook page at

Also available are Morden chrysanthemums, bee balm, gaillardia and a selection of hardy sedums. More on these great perennials next week!

Hanbidge is the Lead Horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at; by email at; on facebook @orchidhort and on instagram at #orchidhort.

Tune into GROW Live on our Facebook page or check out the Youtube channel GROW