Long Blooming Perennial Plants : Prizewinning Series

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Long Blooming Perennial Plants : Prizewinning Series

A First Prize
in the category of
Long Blooming, Best Standing Perennial Self Sowers
goes to:

Linaria purpurea (purple)

and to

Linaria purpurea Canon J. Went (pink)

Linaria purpurea Canon J. Went

The pink form of this Linaria is named in honor of Canon J. Went (ecumenical), and was his horticultural ‘goal’ plant. This extremely long flowering plant bequest enhances our gardens  and roadsides with its slender spires these many years later because of his caring attentions. Subsequent generations of gardeners who have treasured this pink Linaria have, each in their turn, kept it going.

Linaria purpurea, the purple ancestral wild form from which the pink was derived, is also a beautiful long bloomer. The pink has perhaps an airier appearance with its light color. For your plant paintings sometimes you may want pink, sometimes purple, so its nice to have a choice.

Both color forms are elegant plants, which strikes me as being in line with their Italian heritage. Refined and delicate in appearance of flower and foliage, slender yet sturdy in stature, they stand 18 to 30” tall, and typically manage without support. They are easily pleased by a broad range of full to ½ day sun places, and a lean sandy soil is fine for them, though better earth is also suitable. They thrive in association with rocks, sowing happily betwixt and between.

If you occasionally trim down spent stalks as the flowering season goes along, new budding stems will come up. If the place is not too hot and there is enough water, this reflowering can go on for months each and every year, from June until at least October.

I find them easily managed in a garden setting, with some subtractive editing when there are more individuals than you want. They are good to share since they do well for mostly everyone.

Self Sowing Perennials

These are Perennial in character, meaning that the parents come back, and in addition both color forms self sow reliably. The babies typically mature and flower in the first year.

From your parent planting, over time, the seeds will find nearby places to nestle into all by themselves. Once you have established this Linaria, you will probably have it for all of your garden life, if you so desire. The babies will also take care of themselves long after the original gardener is gone.

It is easy to share their seeds with other gardeners. Roughly collected seed can put into an envelope and site sown in its proposed new home as soon as it is dry. I sow them at the end of the gardening year, after the chosen places have been cleaned up for winter. Baby plants and more mature individuals can also readily be moved to wherever you might like to have them, at most any time of the year.

To Preserve the Pink Form for the Future

I wouldn’t be without either color of this effervescent plant. I use both colors amongst the edge plants in the first and second tiers of planted beds and also in ledge, street and driveway pockets. The pink form is, however, more rare. Since it is subject to genetic interchange with the species purple form which tends to be dominant, without intervention, the pinks will get married up with purples and that will soon spell the end of the pink strain that Canon Went so nicely set aside for us.

If you isolate a colony of pinks from the purples, in a location out of the ‘bee line’, or otherwise away from the purples so there won’t be much chance of back cross, and if you remove any reversions to purple that do crop up in that pure colony over time, you will help to preserve the pinks for the long future. If you take seeds from these more purely pink groupings and share or otherwise distribute them to places where their own color form can be isolated and thus predominate, that helps too.

As long as you considerately do this isolation in certain particular places, you can freely enjoy having both color cousins together elsewhere in your gardens. Where I want to keep both colors together, I rogue out a larger percentage of the purple babies to keep plenty of places for the pinks to succeed.

Streetside Champs

Both color forms are also Streetside Champions, meaning that they can look lovely with little care wherever a suitable crevice can be found and are tough enough for along the edges of moderately traveled streets, even with the sand, salt, pee and heaped up snow that affects the edges of our paved places in New England.

The Purple form is even more robust than the Pink, but both colors are very easy seeders….. ready, willing and able plants with few pests or problems of any kind, except for their (over) enthusiasm. The bees and company find them irresistible.

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