Although “bloomers” can mean “mistakes,” reliable flowering plants are considered anything but bloopers and shortly become so popular that everybody and their grandparents grow them. Before you disparage such conformity, keep in mind that it generally means those classics are easy to raise and will produce more bloom for your buck.
In other words, they are the flowering plants that everybody should grow. But you often can do your grandparents one better by purchasing modern versions that offer an even longer flowering season and more profuse profusion than the originals.
‘Jackmanii,’ for example, rates as one of the most popular clematises grown—probably even as one of the most popular blooming vines of all time. An heirloom introduced in the 1800s, it produces scads of large purple flowers that everybody loves around mid to late summer when many gardeners already have thrown in the trowel.
This clematis also can cover up a few of the uglier realities in your life, such as that rusty chain-link fence erected on the property line by your antisocial neighbor. If you’d prefer a newer clematis version, try ‘Happy Jack’ with larger flowers in an even more intense shade of purple.
Also happy-looking is the daylily ‘Stella De Oro’ (‘Star of Gold’), which made its debut in the 1970s. It rose to superstardom quickly, due to its convenient dwarf size and the fact that it continues to churn out sunny yellow blooms for months on end.
If such a Pollyanna-ish attitude annoys you, try one of the more recent darker daylilies such as ‘Bella Lugosi’—named for the actor who portrayed Dracula—instead. Come to think of it, though, Bella’s larger size and deep purple flowers would provide a striking contrast to Stella’s petite yellow. Obviously, they make such a cute couple that you need both.
The fact that wild daylilies even grow in ditches indicates that you can plant the tamer ones almost anywhere you please, though ditches aren’t recommended! As long as they receive at least six hours of sunlight a day in reasonably well-drained soil, they should prove virtually indestructible, though it may not be a good idea to place ‘Bella Lugosi’ near your garlic patch.
Speaking of the perennially popular, white-flowered “snowball bushes” always have been requisite as well, since nothing else can produce such huge blooms in shade. One of the most beloved is ‘Annabelle’—an improved smooth hydrangea that appeared in the 1960s. For an even more improved version, try the ‘Incrediball’ Hydrangea which carries foot-wide heads of blooms bigger than basketballs from early summer through early fall.
Either will light up that gloomy spot on the east side of your house, which only gets sun in the morning, and remains shaded throughout the rest of the day. And your children will enjoy playing wedding with those instant bouquets, as so many other children have done before them.
That is, perhaps, one of the best reasons for growing these old reliables. They link you to generations of other gardeners. Plus you can feel smug that your ‘Jackmanii’ Clematis is already in full bloom while your neighbor’s is doing jack all!