While leafing through the August issue of Garden Gate magazine I was happily surprised to see this full-page photo of my favorite small-flowered glad, ‘Starface’. It’s one of seven summer-blooming classics featured in “Top Picks: Heirloom Summer Bulbs.”
“You know a plant is well-loved, timeless, and a good addition to any garden,” writes author Chloe Deike, “when it has been zealously passed on and preserved from generation to generation.” And summer-blooming bulbs are great, she adds, for their “vivid presence, splash of color, and sudden appearance when other plants are starting to whimper and fade.”
Deike describes ‘Starface’ as a “dainty little beauty” whose “ornately patterned petals” have been “stopping gardeners in their tracks since 1960.” Other summer bulbs she praises include:
‘Star of the East’ crocosmia – With its “stouter stems” and “much larger flowers,” this 107-year-old crocosmia “won all kinds of garden awards when it was introduced” and “still has reason to be the star of your garden today.”
‘African Queen’ lily – “Voluminous and voluptuous, this apricot-colored beauty from 1958 sings out like a Broadway diva.”
red spider lily – With its “long, ‘spider-leg’ stamens that curve upward from a cluster of star-shaped flowers,” this dramatic perennial “definitely makes a tropical statement in the late summer garden.”
milk and wine crinum – A “classic pass-along plant in Southern gardens,” milk-and-wine lily “grows happily and blooms off and on throughout the summer without much fuss,” even when it’s grown in pots in zones where it’s not hardy.
‘Café au Lait’ dahlia – Like ‘Starface’, this 1967 beauty also rates a full-page photo in Deike’s article. Its “enormous plush blooms” and “creamy, champagne tone,” she says, make it “one of the trendiest flowers for brides” and a “wonderfully celebratory cut flower.”
More than just pretty faces, “heirloom plants are rooted in story,” Deike writes, “embellished by a history that connects you to the past and spurs you toward the future.” And since so many are disappearing from mainstream sources, “growing heirlooms can make you an important link in the chain that keeps these plants thriving.”
You can join that happy chain by adding any of these treasures to your garden. ‘African Queen’ and red spider lily are available now for delivery this fall, and the other four will be available again soon for delivery next spring. For an email alert then, simply click the link in each bulb’s description.