Great perennials make a great garden! Period! So let us recommend a few of our favorites:
- Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and cultivars
The Hyssop hybrids are known for their long lasting upright flower spikes in powdery blue but also available now in other colors like the raspberry pink ‘Tutti Frutti’. Hyssops attract pollinating bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Deer and rabbits seem to by-pass the Hyssops. This long blooming vigorous perennial is easy to grow in a sunny location.
- Lobelia cardinalis ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ and cultivars
Any Cardinal Flower is a wonderful addition to the garden, but ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ was selected by a local Pennsylvania nursery for its vigorous growth and impressive number of flowers and is worth tracking down. Quick to establish in regular to moist soil areas, the intense red blossoms attract hummingbirds and butterflies alike. Growing 30-36” tall, plant this in a spot that gets about half a day of sun.
- Salvia ‘May Night’ and cultivars
A sunny spot in the garden must have a group of Perennial Sage with the most intense blue spike flowers we know of. Salvias are quick to establish and offer rich green foliage and deep blue flowers. Rather drought tolerant once established. Deer and rabbits ignore the aromatic foliage but butterflies can’t stay away from the flowers. And yes, Salvias are available in colors other than blue. Cut back after flowering for re-bloom.
- Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’
This Goldenrod is appropriately named when you can see the bright golden yellow blossom spikes spraying out and downward on graceful arching stems. This late summer bloomer likes a sunny spot and is easy to grow. Deer pass it by while bees and butterflies rely on this late season native food source to get them ready for fall and winter. Grows to 30-36” tall. Blooms at the same time as Ragweed but is not related and does not aggravate hay fever.
- Amsonia hubrichtii- Arkansas Blue Star, Perennial Plant of the year 2011
This upright sun-loving perennial has delicate feathery foliage and light blue blossoms. The golden-yellow fall color is unrivaled in the garden among herbaceous perennials. The bushy soft texture is a nice contrast to many broad-leaved plants in the garden. Deer resistant and drought tolerant, this choice perennial belongs in your garden.
- Astilbe cultivars
Astilbes offer feathery foliage with plume-like blossoms on erect stems. This easy to grow perennial is a feature plant in the shade garden. Plant in rich soil and keep consistently moist during hot summer months. Dwarf varieties are available that grow to only 6-8”, while large forms can reach 4’. Colors? How about peach, pink, lavender, white and red. Deer resistant, these summer bloomers may be old-fashioned but are as popular today.
2013 Perennial Plant of the Year™
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ grows 18 to 24 inches tall and will spread by rhizomes to form colonies. The oval shaped leaves are carried on upright, arching and unbranched stems. The variegated leaves are a light green with white tips and margins. Leaves turn an attractive yellow in the autumn. Pairs of small, bell-shaped white flowers with green tips are borne on short pedicels from the leaf axils underneath the arching stems. The flowers are present in late spring and are sweetly fragrant. Bluish-black berries are sometimes present in the autumn.
Variegated Solomon’s seal is a classic beauty for the shady woodland garden or the part-shade to full shade border. It is a great companion plant to other shade lovers including hostas, ferns and astilbes. The sweetly fragrant flowers will enhance that walk along a pathway on a spring morning. Flower arrangers will find the variegated foliage to be an attribute for spring floral arrangements. And finally, this all season perennial offers yellow fall foliage color.
Variegated Solomon’s seal performs well in part to full shade conditions.
Variegated Solomon’s seal prefers moist, well-drained soil.
This perennial offers vivid highlights in shaded areas of borders, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. The variegated foliage is attractive in flower arrangements.
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ has arching stems, which carry pairs of small, bell-shaped white flowers in mid to late spring. Variegated ovate leaves are soft green with white tips and margins. Fall leaf color is yellow.
There are no serious insect or disease problems with variegated Solomon’s seal. Plants may be divided in the spring or fall. The white rhizomes should be planted just below the soil surface. Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ is a very easy perennial to grow and will enhance any shade area.
USDA Zones 3 to 8.
Photos by Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association
Herbaceous Perennials List
‘Perennials of the Year’
2012-Brunnera "Jack Frost"
2011-Amsonia hubrichtii "Arkansas Blue Star"
2010 - Baptisia Australis
2009 - Japanese Forest Grass
2008 - Geranium 'Rozanne'
2007 - Nepeta faassenii 'Walkers Low'
2006 - Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Firewitch'
2005 - Helleborus x hybrids