Paeonia x lactiflora ‘Bowl of Beauty’ – Herbaceous peonies are old-fashioned favourites that resent transplanting and prefer full sun, with good air circulation. ‘Bowl of Beauty’ is a Japanese form with prominent creamy-yellow stamens surrounded by delicate rosy-pink petals. This cultivar is fairly compact (grows to 30″ high) and blooms May to June. Hardy to zone 3.
Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’ – Siberian Iris is a long-lived, versatile perennial that tolerates wet, heavy soils rather well – making it a good choice for pond-side plantings. ‘Caesar’s Brother’ is an easy to find cultivar with dark blue flowers held on tall stems over grass-like foliage. The seedpods can also be used in dried arrangements. Grows 40″ tall and blooms May-June. Zone 3.
Helenium autumnale ‘Mardi Gras’ – Sneezeweed is a tall late-blooming (July-September) perennial with rigid stems that are good for cutting. ‘Mardi Gras’ features a Batik colour blend of gold, orange and coppery-red daisy-like blooms with prominent central cones. This perennial is also a butterfly magnet and grows 3 to 4′ tall, depending on soil fertility. Hardy to zone 4.
Echiops ritro – Globe Thistle is one of my favourite sun-loving perennials, much in part to its ease of care and unique flowers. The June to September blooms are metallic-blue spheres that the bees and butterflies absolutely adore. The cut flowers can be used in both fresh and dried arrangements. This species grows from 3 to 4′ tall and is hardy to zone 3.
Liatris spicata – Gayfeather is a bulbous perennial that prefers full sun and is quite drought tolerant once established. The species produces tall spikes (30-36″ high) of rose-purple flowers from July to September. Colour options are also available, including ‘Floristan White’ and ‘Kobold’, which is a compact form (to 2′ tall) with mauve blooms. Liatris spicata attracts butterflies and is hardy to zone 3.