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Proven Winners has introduced 10 new perennials this season that provide food, shelter and habitat for garden pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

This week we’ll look at four of their new late-spring and early summer bloomers.

1. New in the “Color Spires” collection is “Azure Snow,” a perennial salvia. Chances are, if you brush against the plant while it’s loaded with bees, they won’t stir because they’re so absorbed with collecting pollen. This new salvia reaches 18 to 20 inches tall and needs full sun in average soil. It blooms in late spring to early summer featuring bicolor wands of deep blue violet and pure white flowers. Others in the series are “Crystal Blue,” “Indiglo Girl,” “Pink Dawn” and “Violet Riot.”

2. Dianthus is a cottage garden classic prized for its bright colors and front-of-the-border staying power. Bees forage near the ground, Proven Winners points out. “Classic Coral,” in the “Fruit Punch” series, is a low-mounding ground-hugger with wiry stems whose sweetly fragrant flowers are appealing to bees and butterflies. Coral pink flowers are doubles and bloom in late spring. Trimming off spent flowers stalks may reward you with more bloms in early fall. “Black Cherry,” “Cherry Vanilla,” “Cranberry Cocktail,” “Maraschino,” “Raspberry Ruffles” and “Spiked Punch” are a few others in the series. Dianthus thrives in Zones 4-9 and reaches 8 to 10 inches tall in full to part sun.

3. Baptisia or false indigo is one of my favorite go-to perennials. The “Decadence” series is more refined and smaller scale for today’s perennial gardens. “Pink Lemonade” has pink and yellow flower spikes in late spring to early summer. The seed pods, one of the characteristics of baptisia, provide fall and winter interest. It requires a cold winter period to bloom. It can reach 48 inches tall and prefers average soil in full sun to light shade. The plant sets down a long taproot and doesn’t like being moved after it settles in.

4. Bush clematis growns like a perennial, not a vine. The upright, bushy clump may need support from a cage, peony ring or staking. “Stand by Me” is the new release from Proven Winners, featuring pendulous bright blue flowers held on nodding stems. Flowers fade and are replaced by creamy, frothy seed heads. The plant has been known to rebloom in late summer, too.

Next week: Mid-summer to fall bloomers

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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