Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Touring the Perennials

I love perennial gardening. I prefer varieties that put on a show all Summer long (as opposed to plants with shorter bloom seasons like mums and daylilies), and it is so satisfying to see the plants return year after year. Once established, perennials are pretty much maintenance free, requiring just the occasional watering during extreme drought.

I have numerous perennial beds around the yard, but my favorite has got to be the garden I planted this year from seed. Not because it is any more lovely than the other gardens, but because I feel so accomplished to have grown these plants from seed.

sambuca on the sidewalk

We recently mulched the bed to keep the neighbor cat from using it as a litter box, but she still likes to do her business in there. She has killed four plants with her kitty bombs, but I'm not sure how to keep her out that doesn't involve a BB gun. We also installed edging to keep the mulch in place. I think it looks nice, but I'll be happy when the flowers spill over the side to soften the hard line of the edging.

sambuca on the sidewalk

Our front yard is sloped such that you can't actually see this bed from the road, but that's ok. I like to think of this garden as a little "surprise" for people who come up the driveway.

house view late spring

It's hard to believe that this evening primrose was sown just four months ago. All four plants are already blooming! I read that evening primrose blooms open in the evening and close in the morning, but these soft pink blooms are always open in this garden.

evening primrose grown from seed

The perennial verbana has also amazed me with prolific blooms. I didn't think any of the plants would flower this year, but they have proven me wrong! I like to be wrong sometimes ;) The coreopsis doesn't seem far from blooming either!

verbana grown from seed

This is the third year for the daisies, and they are certainly leaping! They have never been so beautiful, and the blooms are lasting longer than ever. I love these shorty daisies. I think they are the perfect height for this area.

sambuca on the sidewalk

The perennial flowerbox is also thriving. The calamintha is the only plant that wilts in the mid-day heat, but I don't mind watering it. It has a light scent similar to mint, so it's always pleasant to take a break and enjoy the scent for a couple minutes. When I planted the snapdragons, I had no idea what color each plant in the mixed variety was going to be. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the two maroon plants made their way to either side of the salvia. I love symmetry.

flowerbox view late spring

This perennial garden is located in the backyard and is very difficult to photograph for some reason. Its beauty just doesn't come through very well in digital form.

perennial garden late spring

Purple and yellow are quickly becoming my favorite planting color combination. This moonboom coreopsis and purple veronica complement each other in color and height variation.

veronica and coreopsis

Bumblebees love Veronica! They have been busy working to collect every speck of pollen from these plants.

bee on veronica

The view from the opposite direction is pretty much hindered completely by the catmint. I had no idea catmint would grow to be this large, especially one year after planting! I will need to cut it back by about two-thirds in the next couple weeks to encourage a second wave of blooms. Note that cats are attracted to catmint. I have chased a neighbor's cat out of the catmint twice in the past two weeks! (It is a different cat than the one who uses the front garden as a litter box.)

perennial garden late spring

This endless summer hydrangea is being slightly obstructed by the height of the catmint, but the blooms are no less beautiful. I purchased this plant in May 2006, and it is performing beautifully. This is my #1 pick for hydrangeas, at least from my experience with the plants. It should grow tall enough this year to compete with the height of the catmint. Ultimately it will reach a maximum height of 5'.

endless summer hydrangea late spring

I love the color variation - pink, purple, blue, white. These blooms are gorgeous! This variety blooms on old and new wood, so don't prune it back in Winter.

endless summer hydrangea late spring

My calla lilies decided to bloom after a break from blooming last year. Callas are my favorite flower. I just wish they bloomed longer, and I will never understand why they are so expensive. They multiply very quickly and tend to be hardier than they are supposed to be. I overwintered these bulbs in the ground, but from everything I have read, they are not supposed to be hardy in my zone! I was so happy to see them emerge from the soil this Spring, because I thought my absent-mindedness has killed them for sure!

yellow calla lilly

Perennials require a lot of patience since it generally takes three years for a plant to perform at its best. You can fill in the bare spaces with annuals while you are waiting for your perennials to grow, since annuals grow very quickly. Cosmos are a fast-growing full sun favorite that come in many colors and heights. Impatiens are great for shady areas occupied by slow-growing ferns or other shade-loving perennials.

Although annuals last only one season, they are relatively inexpensive, and you get a lot of reward for the cost. Some gardeners like to reserve a place in the perennial garden for annuals to keep the garden dynamic throughout the years. A change in the color scheme of the annuals can change the entire look of the garden. I have not experimented much with annuals, but I am slowly warming up to them.

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At 9:36 PM , Blogger Elise Sheppard said...

I bought three endless summer hydrangeas in May. You answered my question about whether I would have to prune them back or not. So I am assuming this breed blooms annually unlike other hydrangeas that only bloom bi-annually?

Also, it is good to know that perennials take three years to do their best. Some that I've planted don't make it all, but the ones that do look rather puny, despite watering. I may try growing them from seed next year. They get expensive when you buy them as plants, especially if they don't pull out of the drought.

At 9:21 AM , Blogger Goodboy Norman Featherstone said...

Hi Elise. All hydrangeas bloom annually unless a late Spring frost comes through and kills their buds before they open. That's what happened to mine last year.

At 10:58 AM , Blogger Tami said...

I read where used coffee grounds will keep cats away. I tried it, but found that I didn't have nearly enough to cover even a small space.
Your yard is beautiful!

At 11:27 PM , Blogger Elise Sheppard said...

Thanks for the hydrangea tip. That's good to know.


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