Every year renews my love for hardy geraniums! This cultivar, ‘Rozanne’, is a true performer with profuse perky blooms from late spring to late fall. The happy blossoms are exquisite stand alone, or en masse create a sparkling sea of blue. The finely cut foliage in mottled bright greens is also a treat! Read more about hardy geraniums by clicking here or here.
A single bloom of coneflower can hold me entranced. The spiky dome center, the steadfast petals – a truly strong bloom. And such a range of colours, from swan white to candy pink to sunniest orange to festive red and of course the traditional purple, plus more to collect. Yet another parade of glorious summer colour! Read more about coneflowers (Echinacea) by clicking here.
The dog days of summer with heat and dry gardens have arrived, and so peaks my admiration and affection for drought tolerant perennials. Yarrow is one of those tough performers whose glorious blooms exalt in the hot sun. Yarrow offers a varied palette from golden yellow and juicy cerise, to pretty in pink. I love the new ‘Apple Blossom’ and ‘Saucy Seduction’ planted last year. Read more about yarrow by clicking here.
The parade of daylilies is in full swing! They are extra extravagant with bounteous blooms this year thanks to the rains we’ve had. Satisfy your colour craving with creamy or citrus yellow, vivacious orange, rich rouge or rosy pink – daylilies come in a decadent array of choices. You can also indulge in textures of velvet, rumpled, frilled or silky smooth. This favourite perennial is a low maintenance staple in my garden. Read more detail by clicking here.
Yarrow is a breezy, bountiful bloomer that brings a striking assortment of colour to the sunny side of the garden. Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, comes in shades of pink, apricot, mauve, red, white or yellow. It has a delightful habit of blooming one colour, then aging to softer, faded pastels. The feathery foliage can be vivid green or silvery grey depending on the cultivar. Yarrow’s amiable wildflower quality, with swaying informal stems, is most suited to a cottage style garden. This vigorous perennial that can be cut back before blooming in spring for a bushier habit, or can be cut back after bloom, for a fresh flush of ferny green and continued bloom. Deadheading also makes for more blossoms, as does cutting for bouquets. There are many cultivars available, with some of my favourites including: deep pink ‘Cerise Queen’, purple-y pink ‘Saucy Seduction’, soft pink ‘Apple Blossom’, coral pink ‘Paprika’, or the popular ‘Moonshine’ that serves up platters of gleaming golden blooms atop grey-green foliage. Common yarrow is a native wildflower for North America – a smaller version than cultivated yarrow, but with the same fern-like greenery capped with flat clusters of white bloom.
Technical stuff – Yarrow/Achillea millefolium, hardy perennial to zone 3, height and spread of 18”-24” or taller if happy, full sun, well-drained soil, drought tolerant, blooms summer into fall.
Stellar foliage, chartreuse blooms and being super easy to grow earns this perennial a spot on my cherished ‘garden staples’ list. Its magical leaves start as wee ruffled bundles that unfold to gently frilled scallops in luxuriant green with a soft velvet finish. Lady’s mantle is most refuted for capturing and holding dewdrops like glistening jewels (read more on that here). The mounding form softens any garden design, adding green calm and lushness. In late spring the lacy clusters of yellow green flowers are perfect for cutting. And since lady’s mantle can be a rampant self-seeder, you don’t feel guilty snipping away. Lady’s mantle is flexible in siting – in my garden I have it anywhere from full sun to shade, though it prefers and performs best in part shade.
Technical stuff – Lady’s mantle/Alchemilla, hardy perennial to zone 3, about 300 species, Alchemilla mollis being the most popular with height of 10”-18” and spread of 18”-24”, prefers part shade and moist soil but quite adaptable, blooms late spring into summer, can be invasive in preferred conditions if allowed to self-seed. Alpine lady’s mantle/Alchemilla alpina only grows 6”-8” tall and is a beauty for rock gardens.
Sedum is the queen of fall colour for perennials – as other perennials fade, sedum makes merry to enhance the fall fanfare. Its broad, voluptuous bloom clusters are in fat green bud over the summer, opening to exuberant shades of pink, rose, auburn or white, then aging to antique shades of wine and copper as fall advances. This super easy perennial is refuted as one of the easiest perennials to grow, making my list of garden staples. It loves full sun and is drought tolerant with fleshy, succulent, ‘water storing’ leaves. Pinching the stems back about half way in May will make for bushier plants that are less likely to splay or flop. And you can choose to push those pinched stems into workable soil if you want them to take root. There are many delightful varieties: Autumn Joy is ever popular with pink blooms aging to copper, Purple Emperor has striking deep purple leaves and stems, Matrona has maroon foliage with dusky pink blooms, and Frosty Morn gives you sparkling white to pale pink blooms with variegated leaves. There are about 600 different species of sedum – above are the taller, upright varieties, and you can read more about ground cover sedums by clicking here.
Technical stuff – Sedum/stonecrop, hardy perennial to Zone 3 or 4 (varies by variety so check labels, some Zone 2 or 5), height of about 12”– 24”, spread of 18” – 24”, prefers full sun and well-drained soil but will tolerate most soils and a little shade, attractive buds in summer opening to bloom in late summer and into fall.
Daylilies are exploding now, and many will continue to bloom 'til late September or early October. Such an easy, productive bloomer is so satisfying! Some of these blooms are only 3” across, while the sprawling, pure golden bloom above is closer to 10” across. Much fun to collect with many, many tempting options. Sharing more of my collection… For more detail on daylilies, click here.
It’s midsummer and the daylily pageant is on! Depend on daylilies for purposeful pops or swanky swaths of colour. And don’t stop at savouring their beauty, many are also divinely fragrant. I couldn’t resist sharing the loveliness – as my last post on daylilies said, ‘Such decadent blooms in sumptuous colours and forms!’… For more detail on daylilies, click here.
Hardy geraniums are such cheery faces in the garden. Their spritely flowers, sprinkled amongst mounds of perky detailed foliage, can’t help but make you smile! If you missed my earlier post on this garden staple, just click here for more detail – and above are some of the many faces of hardy geranium blooming now…
Even though my garden is stuffed full of plants, every year I buy more. Some perennials die out and need replacing; I may expand a bed, add a new bed, or find a little bare spot where I can just ‘tuck something in there’. And so do I add a staple, a favourite, or an experiment? To earn the accolade of being a staple perennial (which I also call work horses), there are two huge criteria: performance, and ease of care. A staple perennial has multiple desirable attributes that provide show and garden structure over the growing season, for example: long bloom time, detailed or changing foliage, funky seed heads, or spectacular colour, which includes shades of green. Ease of care is important for any garden – you need bones that don’t take big work so you can enjoy. Easy care perennials are often drought tolerant, adaptable in siting for sun exposure and soil conditions, and don’t require much if any pruning, deadheading or support. What makes a favourite perennial is another discussion – this is more personal, where we crave a stellar bloom even though it may be short lived, we want a certain clear blue colour, or maybe a remembered fragrance of rose, and we may be willing to do extra work to get it. The best is when a favourite perennial is also a work horse! Below I have included a few photos of perennials blooming in the garden now – some favourites and some staples…
Sedums are favourite, multi-tasking perennials, and thus I have an abundance of them sprinkled throughout the garden. This time of year when they are all bursting out of the ground, it is like the gift of rosebuds every day. Sedum emerge from the ground with their juicy, unfurling foliage forming rosebuds in green, pink, burgundy, lime, grey-mauve. How can such a simple plant offer such varying beauty!? It can be easy to miss the rosebuds; a busy week that keeps you from a garden walkabout, and the rosebuds will have progressed to still pretty, but proper, sprouts. If you have sedum in your garden, take a moment to enjoy the gift of rosebuds!
My big fondness for coneflowers goes way back to it being one of the first perennials I ever purchased. Coneflowers are named for the impressive burnished cone at their centers – the perfect butterfly perch. These perennials are often included in children’s gardens because they attract butterflies and bees. Coneflowers sturdy height, clumps of deep green background leaves and colourful, joyful blooms provide easy garden bones. Their happy demeanor lends a wildflower quality to any garden. They are a stellar mixer with many perennials like hyssops, shasta daisies, russian sage or rudbeckia, especially in mass plantings. In the past few years, there has been a plethora of new colour offerings, giving you a choice of the traditional purple, or creamy yellows, vivid oranges, soft pinks, and elegant whites. My favourite varieties include the classic purple (ruby star, magnus), white swan, tangerine dream and sundown. The large, long lasting blooms are also a wonderful cut flower. Deadheading keeps coneflowers blooming, but I leave lots of seed heads in place for winter interest and to attract the birds. Unlike many perennials, the latin name echinacea is well known thanks to its reputation as an herbal remedy.
Technical stuff – Coneflower/Echinacea, hardy perennial to Zone 3, prefers full sun and good drainage but is adaptable, height of 30”-48”+, spread of about 24”, though dwarf varieties available, blooms mid to late summer, drought tolerant once established.
Some perennials are stars of the show, and others are team players that carry more than their share of the workload. Ground cover sedums are a team player, and a staple in my garden. They prefer full sun and good drainage, but will survive in just about any soil or part sun. They are a no-maintenance plant that performs year after year. A super easy approach to a dry, sunny patch of garden is a collection of rugged rocks with a collection of ground cover sedum – instant attractive rock garden. I have many favourite varieties: dragon’s blood, tricolor, vera jameson, angelina, voo doo, acre, cherry tart...the list is long and I discover new varieties each year. This is a collection perennial in my garden, and I love to mix & match the different varieties. Most bloom in spring or summer, and spread at a moderate rate. Angelina can be aggressive (though I am always happy to have extras pop up here and there!), but makes up for it with vivid lime spring and summer colour that fades to orange auburn in the fall. Several varieties, like vera jameson or dragon’s blood, offer maroon or purple, and kamtschaticum is bright green with sunny yellow blooms. Acre has detailed leaves with burgundy stems and golden blossoms. You can see why they are easy to collect!
Technical stuff – Sedum, hardy perennial, ground cover varieties are 2” to 6”, with most at 4” in height, spread of 12” to 18”/24” or indefinitely, prefer full sun and good drainage, most bloom spring/summer.
Some perennials require little care, thriving in most soils and varying light/water conditions (so perfect siting is not needed), and are susceptible to few pests. These delightful plants reward with greenery and blooms – these are the work horses of the garden, and daylilies top the list. Soft blades of green, hinting blue with the sheen of morning dew, form dense clumps that spurn weeds. And such decadent blooms in sumptuous colours and forms! Choose from a vast menu of palest yellow to chocolate brown, delectable rosy apricots, grape purples, ruby reds or rich golden and more. Many varieties have contrasting throats, and can be trumpet shaped, starry, or frilled. I have not counted how many varieties of daylilies are in my garden. Come July, when most of them are blooming, it reminds me of a fancy ball with daylilies all dancing in assorted elegant gowns. The proper name hemerocallis comes from the Greek ‘hemera’ meaning day, and ‘kallus’ meaning beauty – as the blooms last only one day, but ample buds means they keep on rewarding!
Technical stuff – hardy perennial, bloom time can vary by variety with some blooming May to September, full sun to full shade (more sun equals more blooms), prefer moist, well drained, fertile soil but adapt to most conditions, size greatly varies with variety 12”to 48” for height and spread. Lily beetle doesn’t bother with daylilies, but mows down on oriental and asiatic lilies.
Hardy Geraniums are a win, win, win perennial! They are super easy, happy in most conditions, have attractive foliage and many bloom from late May to late September. There are a multitude of varieties, so many it’s hard to choose, but bloom colour and form will help you narrow it down. You can decide from whites, pinks, purples and blues. Form can be low spreading clumps speckled with cheerful blooms, or taller bushier varieties with upright bundles of perky flowers. Starry leaves make a pretty green backdrop for delicate blooms. I am partial to blues with Johnson’s Blue and Rozanne as favourites, and Samobor gives me early blooms in part shade. Hardy Geraniums are also known as Cranesbill, as the seed pods resemble little bird heads. They are wonderful mixers with many perennials (perfect to cover browning bulb leaves), spreading to fill in gaps, and meld the tapestry of the garden.
Technical stuff – hardy perennial, part shade to full sun preferring part sun, lower varieties are about 12” tall spreading to 24”, and taller varieties can reach 36” tall with blooms, with bushy leaves below. There are also many dwarf varieties now with height of 6”-8”. They prefer good drainage but are happy in most sites unless it’s very wet.