Under planting columbines
It sounds as if you have a very attractive bed already. I would suggest interplanting with different cultivars of astilbe that bloom over a long season. Maybe you would want to add one bold hosta to tie in with the rest of your garden since repetition always creates a unified look. Hostas come in such a wide range of leaf textures and colors, perhaps you would consider consolidating individual kinds around the garden and in this areas as well. For foliage effect you could also use European ginger (Asarum europaeum, evergreen) or our native deciduous one (Asarum canadense). These are low to the ground and would make a nice skirt for the columbines, as would silver spotted lungworts (Pulmonaria). For late summer, try tall, white-spiked snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa, now Actaea racemosa). I would recommend a visit to your local park or botanic garden to see what plants they are using there. Since you are in a very cold winter zone, it is a good idea to observe what does well for others in your region.
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