Five Summer All-Stars

Plant these flowers for a garden that blooms during summer’s worst weather.

By Jeff Cox


Only the toughest perennials can endure summer’s long, hot, sunny days. But tough perennials can still be beautiful and charming—like these five recommended by Jeff Cox, author of Perennial All-Stars.

the Goblin blanket flower is perfect for the summer garden ‘Goblin’ Blanket Flower
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin'
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
Blooms: June to August
Height x Width: 1 X 1.5 feet
Flower color: Red, yellow, and maroon
Light requirements: Full sun

Blanket flower is a durable plant, too, with a toughness that comes from its origins in western North America. It can survive in hot, dry soil, in poor soil, and even in seaside conditions. The lifespan of any individual ‘Goblin’ is variable, and this is perhaps its only flaw. Some may die out after 2 years; others may live on for many more. In cold regions where snow cover is chancy, a layer of leaf mulch will help it through the winter.

‘Goblin’ has 3-to-4-inch-wide flowers with dark purplish maroon centers and ray petals of rich red tipped with bright golden yellow. ‘Goblin’ begins blooming in June and continues through the summer.

If you plant ‘Goblin’ in rich, moist garden loam, it will tend to lose its compact habit and may sprawl. This plant is more at home in average or even poor soil and asks only for good drainage in order to thrive.

‘Goblin’ is a supremely useful plant on south-facing banks, in thin soils, and in other trouble spots where more finicky perennials won’t grow. Its low habit and masses of warm-colored flowers make ‘Goblin’ just right for growing at the front of a planting of taller perennials in other warm shades or in cooler blue tones.

Photo: (cc)Far Out Flora/Flickr