This is one of the peak times in my Rainbow Border. The Asiatic lilies are now in full bloom (and they are certainly beautiful in themselves) and even more excitingly, the rainbow effect can be seen down the length of the border: the flower colors progress through the colors of the rainbow: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and back to white at the far end -- mostly May/June blooming perennials and bulbs, and some annual flowers for later in the season. I started working on this color border in 2012, so it is now in Year Three, and is starting to look more filled in than in prior years (although there are still many improvements and adjustments that need to be made).
Note: I purchased these Asiatic lilies from The Lily Garden, and I could not be more happy with them. I've purchased cheaper bulbs from garden centers in the past, and they just don't perform as well as these have. I'm now looking at their catalog again with plans for next year....
Here's a look at what's in each section (I apologize for the lengthy post -- there are nine sections).
The White Section
The Pink Section
The Asiatic lilies in the Pink Section are 'Iowa Pink' (appropriate, I thought!) and are surrounded by lavatera, 'Bath's Pink' dianthus, an unnamed pink peony and pink iris, 'Visca Fire' lychnis, 'Rosenwein' salvia, 'Gallery Pink' lupine, 'The Fairy' rose, 'Vivid' obedient plant, 'Callisto Pink' mum, 'Cerise Queen yarrow, and pink petunias, cosmos and zinnias, as well as a few 'China Pink' tulips. I've tried to move from lighter to dark pink from left to right.
The Red Section
The Red Section contains 'Blackout' Asiatic lilies, along with 'Red at Night' iris, 'Red Charm' peony, 'Red Birds in a Tree' scrophularia, 'Red Fox' speedwell (which is actually very pink, NOT red, so I'm probably going to move it into the Pink Section next year), a number of red oriental poppies and annual petunias, salvias and zinnias, as well as a few 'Red Shine' tulips, which will need to be replaced. I will need to find more red-flowering plants of all sorts next year to improve this section, which is a hard section to plant, because to avoid clashing, the reds need to change from purplish reds to orangey reds from left to right.
The Orange Section
'Liberty Hyde Bailey' Asiatic lilies are standing tall in the Orange Section (although I think I might move the left ones behind the irises this fall, because they're too much in the Red Section now). Orange is one of the harder colors to find taller May/June blooming perennials in, so I'm still working on this section. Other plants currently include 'Avalon Sunset' iris, knifophia, a daylily, 'Cooky' geums, 'Tiny Double You' Asiatic lilies, both tall and short marigolds, numerous California poppies that have reseeded and 'Ballerina' tulips, which are still going strong after two years.
The Yellow Section
The Yellow Section is one of the more successful sections, as there is no shortage of early summer flowering perennials: 'Yellow Whoppers' Asiatic lilies are surrounded by 'Moonshine' achillea, "Stella de Oro' daylilies, Missouri evening primroses, 'Moonbeam' threadleaf coreopsis, 'Laura Dessert' Peony, 'Julia Child' rose (just blooming now on the right side of the photo), a mullein that I found seeded in the Pink Section and moved to the back of this section, yellow petunias, marigolds and zinnias, as well as 'Cistula' tulips and 'Moly Jeanne' alliums, both of which seem to have petered out after two years.
The Green Section
The Green Section and the rest of the sections do not have any Asiatic lilies -- there don't seem to be any June-blooming Asiatic lilies in green (although 'Ice Caves' and other July-blooming trumpet lilies are very beautiful and I might add one even if it doesn't flower with the others). And lilies do not come in blue or the kind of blueish purple that I am looking for, only reddish-mauve purples.
But in the Green Section are a green rose Rosa viridiflora (it's very small this year because it died back to the roots over the winter), lady's mantle, a huge mess of Russian tarragon (which flopped forward after our big rains so that I had to hack it back, leaving an even bigger hole than the one in this photo, which was taken earlier in June and looks much better than the last photos with the hacked-back tarragon), some 'Oriental limelight' artemisia (which I'm trying to eradicate as it tried to take over the entire Green and Yellow Sections) a 'Fine Line' buckthorn at back left and some annuals including green petunias, nicotiana, zinnias and Bells of Ireland, as well as 'Spring Green' tulips and 'Hair' alliums. I will try to find a greenish iris this fall and perhaps the aforementioned green trumpet lilies.
The Blue Section
This is also a photo from earlier in June, before the delphiniums were blown sideways by the wind and rain of last week. Included in this section are 'Blue Bird' delphiniums and 'Dark Knight' delphiniums (at far right in the Indigo transition between blue and purple), 'Johnson's Blue' hardy geraniums, 'Electric Blue' penstemons, baptisia false indigo, 'Royal Candles' speedwell, and flax, bachelor buttons and 'Victoria Blue' salvias, as well as a few remaining allium azureum. It's hard to find truly blue flowers, and many of the campanulas, pincushion flowers and low-growing delphiniums that I planted in 2012 have perished.
The Purple Section
The Purple Section contains 'Lavender Lady' lavender, dame's rocket, 'Superba' glomerata campanula, 'Shauna Ann' verbena, purple irises, 'Heirloom' rose, purple petunias, ageratum and violet giant dahlia-flowered zinnias, in addition to 'Purple Sensation' alliums.
The Ending White Section
The Rainbow Border ends in another White Section, which contains 'Immortality' irises, a white peony, white lavender, a white baptisia false indigo, 'Lyrical White' salvia, white dame's rocket, pearly white everlasting, ox-eye daisies, cleome, alyssum and petunias. I have to be careful what I plant on the very end (in the right in the photo) because deer nipped off some petunias I put there last month, although they don't seem to venture further up the border (yet).
One more look back from the end of the border:
I'll continue to work on this challenging color border in coming years, and I think it has the educational effect of making me try new plants outside the ones I'm familiar with. I hope it will continue to improve as I work on it.
Thanks for reading! -Beth