|Looking back towards my patio from the shed garden|
For the past few years I've been focused mostly on shrubs and tender plants. What perennials I have purchased have been in willy nilly groups of one. This year instead of running out to buy one of whatever catches my eye, I decided to look at some of my favorites and get one or two more of those to create a few groupings. The key word is a few groupings. Let's not go off the rails here. Keep in mind, I'm a plant collector with a penchant for the unusual and my garden is relatively small.
That being said, I struggle with plant decisions in a few garden areas and I think adding more of what is working now will enhance the space. Although I admire tall, bold perennials in other people's gardens, the sun conditions in my garden(too much sun for shade plants and not enough for sun lovers) coupled with my lax staking habits would never allow the likes of a Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' to grow into anything other than an unsightly, floppy mess. Same with some of the big ornamental grasses...flopfest.
So I am forever on the hunt for plants that will grow well in part sun, stay under three feet tall, don't require staking, bloom late, and have interesting foliage that holds up throughout the growing season. Now you know why I prefer shrubs and bold tropicals. Below are a few perennials that do make the grade. Google can provide detail on size and cultural requirements. All are all growing well for me in part sun and average to dry garden soil.
Phlox paniculata 'Shockwave' and 'Norah Leigh'
I love Phlox, really I do, but I hate unsightly foliage. Both of these variegated varieties are long bloomers, strong growers and do not succumb to powdery mildew. Whatever you do, avoid variegated Phlox 'Becky Towe'. Despite compelling foliage, she has unfortunately turned out to be a dud.
|Phlox paniculata 'Shockwave'|
|Phlox paniculata 'Norah Leigh'|
Last year I devoted a blog post to this one. Early but relatively long bloomer. Dark basal foliage looks good all season.
Sedum 'Autumn Charm'
Yes, another variegated plant. If they aren't your thing, avert your eyes. Autumn Charm is the the first variegated sedum I've grown that has neither reverted or withered away. Last year I bought one that I thought was 'Autumn Charm' but was tagged 'Autumn Delight', supposedly a sport. Either it was tagged wrong or they are very similiar because I can't tell which is which. Given the choice, I would play it safe and go with 'Autumn Charm'.
Iris pallida 'Aureo Variegata' and 'Albo Variegata'
Admittedly I'm not an Iris fan. Like daylilies, the dazzling variety of flowers are gorgeous and compelling but after they bloom, the ratty foliage leaves me cold. I have a few Iris scattered throughout obscure corners of the garden but only the the Variegata twins get front and center spots. For many years Aureo Variegata has been hard to find. Thankfully itseems to be making a comeback on the perennial benches this year.
|The Twerpster keeping his eyes on the Iris pallida 'Albo Variegata'|
Sanguisorba officinalis 'Lemon Splash'
Through no fault of the plant I've yet to grow this one well. Last year one of my plants got swamped by a Eupatorium 'Chocolate' and another by the return of what I thought was an annual Agastache. This week I grouped both of them together in a new spot where I hope they will grow as well as they do in my friend Monique's garden.
|Flowers of Sanguisorba officinalis 'Lemon Splash'|
Physostegia virginiana 'Variegata'
Easy to grow, late blooming, fabulous foliage accent and not a thug.
Just to prove I do grow plants that are not variegated, I'm tossing this easy peasy plant into the mix. I grow both the straight species and a lavender version, 'Blue Star'. They can get a little floppy, but a hard shear in May or June takes care of that. Below is a picture taken in mid August of just one plant. If you're looking for a long blooming filler, look no further.
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Golden Arrow'
More restrained than the plain green 'Firetail' and in my opinion infinitely better foliage structure.
Artemesia lactiflora 'Guizhou'
Last one, I promise. While perusing pictures for this post, I realized how many perennials I do grow that I would like to see more of in my various gardens. For some reason Picasa has gone haywire though and has been testing my patience the last couple of days.
Artemesia 'Guizhou' is somewhat of an oddball. Even though it's tall, it's see through and can be used effectively in the front of a border. For years I've had some languishing in a dry, shady part of my garden. Wouldn't you know it, when I went to grab some to transplant a few weeks ago it seems to have perished! Looks like I'll have to divide from the flourishing plant. For this one I do provide light support.
Based on recommendations from trusted sources I am also trying a few new to me perennials this year. It's time to break out of my rut and add some non variegated stuff.
In the past I have not had success with dark foliage Geraniums but I'm being led to believe Geranium 'Orkney Cherry' is a cut above. Supposedly Penstemon 'Red Riding Hood' is a long bloomer and better tolerant of the winter wet we get in the Northeast. Hopefully I won't be saying I told myself so because my Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' has powdery mildew. So far I haven't found anything not to like about Helleborus 'Pink Frost'. Despite my claim that I'm for foliage over flowers, Chysanthemum (Dendranthema) 'Matchsticks' appears to be out to prove otherwise. We shall see.
Naturally there are more but I'l leave those for another time.