Archive for the ‘Perennials’ Category



As you can imagine, I love gardening and getting my hands dirty, but I also like to play outside my garden, too. That’s why perennials are a big part of my garden. They afford me the freedom to come and go as I please because they get on quite well by themselves if planted in a site they like. I love the way each season brings on bigger and better growth, and more flowers. More flowers mean more garden visitors as they attract hummingbirds and butterflies alike. Below I have listed my top five faves, but I have to tell you, it was tough to whittle down my list!

Lavender • Ok, maybe Lavender is not technically a perennial as it is more of a woody shrub, but in my head I had always grouped it into that category because it plays so well in the garden with my other perennials. This is my favorite summer blooming plant of all! Have you ever seen the fields of lavender near Sequim in the summer? What an incredible sight it is! The large fields, frosted in rich purples as far as you can see and smell, are amazing. Every part of the lavender plant is saturated with aromatic oils. I just can’t get enough of the delicious aroma that lavender exudes on warm afternoons in July. Hidcote lavender is a special favorite of mine. It’s bushy and compact and I suggest it often as a ‘blooming rock’ when Plant Farm guests are looking for landscape ideas.

What a great performer to sprinkle into a landscape’s sunny, dry spaces that other plants may struggle with. Can you imagine tucking these near entryways, along paths or near your patio spaces so the heady fragrance can delight your guests and family? Grouping them in drifts for dramatic effect will add a powerful punch of color every summer. Or use them as a common color to pull areas together and unify your look.

Hosta 'Golden Tiara'

Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’

Hosta • Hostas just make me happy! I absolutely love all the different leaf textures and leaf sizes, and many of the varieties have incredible variegation that adds an extra layer of interest. The larger leaves are a must for making a statement in your shaded garden areas and combine well when planted with other shrubs and perennials. The flowers they sport in the summer months are greatly enjoyed by hummingbirds and are like “the cherry on top” of an already beautiful plant! While most Hostas love the shade there are many varieties can handle some sunny spots as well if the soil is moist enough. Check the plant label to see if the variety can handle some sun.

One of my favorite varieties is a real beauty called ‘Golden Tiara’ and it has to be one of the very best for filling in the shady spaces! Golden Tiara was selected in 1993 to receive the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its outstanding and easy to grow virtues. This sweetie has a vigorous habit growing densely to 12-15” tall by 24-30” wide, making it ideal to plant along walkways, as borders or covering large areas. They do ask for protection from the hottest afternoon sun.

Gardeners may have had experience with slugs or snails munching on the leaves of their plants but I never have a hole in my Hosta leaves or other plants for that matter! I start sprinkling ‘Slug Magic’ by Bonide (pet and people safe, made from iron phosphate) as soon as I see the leaves poking through the ground in the spring and once a month thereafter and just like ‘magic’, I have perfect, lush, totally intact Hosta leaves gracing my patio area all summer long.

Salvia 'Hot Lips'

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

Salvia • I like almost all the beautiful varieties of Salvia, just like my hummingbirds do! Their striking flowers come in shades of blue, purple, red, pink and more, and they bloom for countless weeks if the spent flowers are removed after the first big flush of color in late spring/early summer. All Salvia is a type of Sage and the foliage is quite fragrant and reminiscent of the sage we cook with. If you want to become a little adventuresome, you should check out the salvias whose foliage smells like pineapple! Salvias are easy to grow in the sunny areas where your soil is well drained and not too fertile, as they like the leaner life.

Know what Ciscoe Morris, hummingbirds and I have in common? Our favorite Salvia is Hot Lips. This Salvia has red and white blooms. The two-toned color scheme starts out with an entirely red flower and then the top half of each blossom turns white, leaving the bottom of the blossom with two luscious pouting red lips. The effect comes off as ‘sparkling’ in the sun and the foliage is deliciously aromatic, adding in one more layer of interest.

I admit, in our wetter climate the perennial types of Salvia are sometimes thought of as a short-lived perennials and this is often because they are planted in shade and overwatered or over fed. They are of good value when planted for their long bloom time and if you plant some areas of your gardens with hummingbird attractors like Hot Lips Salvia you won’t need to hang up a feeder all summer! The Salvias as a whole are so worth planting… the Hummingbirds, Ciscoe and I will thank you!



Penstemon • Another great and easy to grow group of perennials is the genus Penstemon aka Beardtongue or Bearded Tongue. My hummingbirds love the incredibly long blooming time and I love the different foliage textures and flower colors available. While the sunny sites are preferred, part shade areas are tolerated quite well as long as the soil is not overly damp, especially in winter. The leaner soils are appreciated by Penstomen, meaning you won’t be planting in rich loamy soil or fertilizing these much at all. I have a Penstemon in my backyard garden that gets only about 4 hours of sun a day growing in Marysville sandy soil and it thrives and blooms spectacularly. In fact, as I write this, there are hundreds of blossoms opening up on one of my beauties and there are two hummingbirds jockeying for position around the flowers!

Astilbe 'Vision in Pink'

Astilbe ‘Vision in Pink’

Astilbe • What a pretty plant! Astilbe, common name ‘False Spirea’, has been a staple in shade gardens of the NW for ages and it makes sense. Most gardeners are attracted to the soft fluffy plumes of flowers and the intricately cut fern-like foliage. One of my favorite varieties of Astilbe is the yummy ‘Vision in Pink’. I absolutely love its bright flower color and, because it can tolerate more sun than some other varieties, I can plant it in more of my gardens and it will bloom again freely if sheared back after the initial flush of flowers.

Besides the pretty flowers, another reason these beauties are so popular around our part of the world is because of the damp cloudy weather which the Astilbe loves, so they perform to perfection. Astilbe will thrive in the moist damp sites in your shade garden and can even handle quite a bit of sun, as long as it’s not too hot or dry. The arid spaces under fir or cedar trees just won’t make these lovelies happy, so plant outside the big tree’s drip line, mix some compost into the soil, add H2o and watch them smile!

Did I kindle your curiosity about perennials? I hope so. As I said, it was difficult to hold the list down to five. There are so many more varieties of perennials available at The Plant Farm and we’d love to help you select some for your garden.


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Argyranthemum butterfly

Argyranthemum butterfly

Spring is finally here! Okay, yes, in typical Pacific Northwest style, it’s a wet spring, but that just means that in this time of putting away sweaters and woolens, it’s more important than ever to bring out your brightest spring prints. Your wardrobe isn’t the only place you need to pump up the color palette.  It’s time for your garden to have a spring makeover as well. Let’s get some fresh color into your spring garden.

Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose

Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose

Color is a basic of gardening and with a bit of planning it can transform your garden from a collection of plants into something that can really create a mood. Color works in relation to other elements, so think of it like the movie Pleasantville. Without color, your garden might be a beautiful place of contrasts and textures, but it would be like a static collection of plaster sculptures. It’s the addition of color that brings it to life.

Have you ever been in a garden that transformed your mood? Do you ever find your eyes being drawn to one part of a flowerbed or overlooking something even though it’s right out in the open? Color has a lot to do with that. The proper use of color can influence

Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet

Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet

mood and perception and by selecting and mixing your colors with care, you take your garden and make it an exciting party place or a corner of quiet contemplation.If excitement is what you’re after, go for warm colors like the reds of a Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose, the yellows of a Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet or the orange of a Calibrachoa MiniFamous Double Rose Chai. Warm colors draw the eye and stimulate the senses as they shout, “look at me!” They create a focal point and draw attention. Alternatively, do you want to draw people to a particular corner of your garden or highlight that birdbath? Then use something like an Argyranthemum butterfly or a Verbena Superbena coral red.

Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet

Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet

If peace and meditation is the mood you want to set, then go for cool colors like a Blue Verbena Superbena, purple Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet or maybe a Green Ipomoea Marguerite. These colors soothe and welcome visitors, inviting them to sit a bit and enjoy the quiet.

You can even use colors to change the size of your garden. Okay, not really, but they can make it seem larger or cozier. Warm colors make things seem closer while cool colors make them seem further away. For example, if you use small plants in warm colors close up and larger, cool-colored plants further away, they give your garden a sense of perspective and make it look bigger. On the other hand, if you want a large garden to seem more intimate, then use warm colors like a Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry.

Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast

Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast

I love a bright green potato vine against a deep pink Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast. That’s because colors are great for giving a bit of contrast. Ever use a color wheel? You may remember it from the last time you painted the living room. Color wheels are used by decorators and artists to see which colors go together and which ones contrast. As a rule, colors close to one another on the wheel produce a sense of unity while colors from the opposite sides of the wheel produce contrast. Yellow and purple, for example contrast while yellow and green complement one another.

Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake

Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake

This means when you start getting out the potting soil, using contrasting and complementing colors, you can control how strong an impact your plants make. If you want them to stand out from one another, then use contrasting colors. If you want to produce a harmonious effect, then go for complementary colors. And it’s not an “and” “or” situation either. Whites, such as a Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake, and neutral colors can soften the effect of vivid colors. Throwing in some white or pastels like a Calibrachoa MiniFamous Double Rose Chai can tone down a color effect and let one bed of plants blend into the next.Here’s a tip: choose one dominant color and keep repeating it. It can be different plants, but try for the same color. It

Green Ipomoea Marguerite

Green Ipomoea Marguerite

really helps to tie everything together. With a bit of planning, you can manage all sorts of effects. Think out your patterns and you can use unity and contrasts to draw attention to highlights in your garden and away from things you’d rather not be noticed, such as standpipes and composters.Still not sure, what would look good in your garden? Our Landscape Design expert, Ryan Sanders, gives this advice: “Walk the aisle to see what attracts your eye. One of the best ways to pick garden color or work out a garden design is to see your plants working together.”

So, here’s one more great tip: come into The Plant Farm, grab a cart and start picking up what draws your eye.  Our friendly and knowledgeable Plant Farm staff members are ready to offer advice and show you our vast selection of Annuals so you can turn up the color dial in your garden.

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Add another dimension to your garden with the Twilight Zone rose, new this year and available now at The Plant Farm.

Add another dimension to your garden with the Twilight Zone rose, new this year and available now at The Plant Farm.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” A quote by Emma Goldman that grabbed my attention when I came across it while reviewing the roses being introduced on The Plant Farm’s 2013 Rose List. I was also drawn to French poet and novelist Jean Richepin’s quote, “One may live without bread, not without roses.” A wonderful rose quote, though I must admit that I’m awfully fond of bread, too. Still, it’s easy to understand why roses inspire such a passionate devotion and are prized above all other possessions.

Cinnamon Dolce

Cinnamon Dolce

The Plant Farm’s 2013 Rose List is now available and I know you’ll be excited to see the new roses being offered. Two roses being introduced this year that you will find particularly attractive are Twilight Zone and Cinnamon Dolce. Submitted for your approval, the Twilight Zone rose. It’s a gorgeous deep purple Grandiflora variety with blooms that are stuffed with rich, velvety petals. Cinnamon Dolce, a Hybrid Tea rose, will charm you with its highly fragrant blooms, which are brick red with deep pink speckles. Cinnamon Dolce has an excellent resistance to rust and mildew, which makes it perfect for our Pacific Northwest climate.

Fighting Temeraire

Fighting Temeraire

Also new this year and exclusive to The Plant Farm, as a member of David Austen Roses, are Fighting Temeraire and Queen Anne. The Fighting Temeraire is a painting by English artist J. M. W. Turner and the Fighting Temeraire rose color echoes the peachy glow of the sky in the painting. The blooms are large and full, and have a wonderful lemony scent. Queen Anne is a full, hardy deciduous shrub rose. The blooms are delicate pink, plentiful and they have a classic old rose look. Surely, these two beauties helped earn David Austen Roses their 16th Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London.

Queen Anne

Queen Anne

So many rose varieties and colors to tempt rose lovers this year and we’ve got the roses offered in Bare Root right now. I know I’ve talked about purchasing plants Bare Root in previous blog entries and roses are a perfect example of how buying Bare Root can save you time and money. Bare Root roses will cost you up to 40% less than potted roses. They are easier to transport because they weigh less and you don’t have the bulk of the pot and soil. In addition, they establish much more quickly because their roots are intact and they don’t experience the shock of going from container soil to your garden soil.

Are you excited to get into The Plant Farm and pick out your 2013 roses? Good, because we’re excited to introduce them to you. On that note, I will leave you with this quote from Richard Brinsley Sheridan “Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.”

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tulips and sunSpring anticipation is such a delicious agony.  Daydreams about warmer temperatures and the sun feeding the garden, the occasional hint of spring flowers have you marking the days off on the calendar.  Your heart is beating out a chant: “How soon can I start? How soon can I dig in? How soon can I start?”  Big events like the Northwest Flower & Garden Show have you making lists and it’s so hard to wait.  I have to tell you, The Plant Farm isn’t going to make it any easier on you.  We have way too many excellent new plants and products this year.

Dark Night RoseNew for 2013!

Dark Night Rose – New for 2013!

In the coming weeks, we’ll take a more in-depth look at colorful new annuals, exciting new container and basket combinations, and share garden ideas from local gardening masters and our own staff experts. Stories like The Berries & the Bees and Herbs: Beyond Spice will delight you and give you food for thought; pun intended. This coming week, we’ll focus our spotlight on the gorgeous new roses we’ve added to The Plant Farm’s Rose List. I can’t wait to tell you about the new roses!

Plant Bare Root and Save!

Plant Bare Root and Save!

Oh, and if you’re a savvy shopper, you will want to know that in about two weeks we’ll bring in a huge selection of Bare Root ornamental trees and shrubs. We offer them bare root for a couple of weeks and then they go to our production crew to be potted up. Buying bare root is an excellent way to save money and it’s much easier to get the plant in the ground.

Ryan Sanders, TPF's Landscape Design Expert

Ryan Sanders, TPF’s Landscape Design Expert

You may have to wait for spring to arrive, but right now, you can do more than daydream at The Plant Farm.  You can come check out the plants arriving every day, sit down with our Landscape Design expert, Ryan Sanders, or hire the Pruning Services crew to get your trees and shrubs into tip top shape.

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We’re days away from the official start of fall and that means the holidays are close behind.  It also means we’ll be receiving more visitors, so it’s time to get our front doorstep and walkways spruced up.  Cleaning up or changing out your spring and summer containers, is an excellent way to mark the changing of the seasons.

Fall Container by Lora Keddie

Attractive containers have a mix of plants with different heights, shapes and textures.  In container gardening they’re known as the thriller, filler and spiller.  The thriller is a bold, vertical plant that is tall in relation to the other plants in the container.  The filler is the plant with medium height in the pot and the spiller plant cascades over the edge of the container.

If adding gorgeous, welcoming fall containers to your doorstep is on your list, right now is a great time to get started.  There is a lot of exciting fall color plant material on sale and you still have time to come in with your bucks for Dollar Days at The Plant Farm and get a double dip on savings.

We’re also offering FREE potting soil September 22nd-23rd when you purchase any container or pottery with plants. All containers are currently 30% off.  That’s a very exciting deal and here are a few plant ideas to inspire you…

Fall Pansies add a touch of whimsy

Fall standards like Cabbage and Kale have started arriving along with the Mums and Asters.  We’ve got a great selection of Pansies and Violas in gorgeous fall colors to add a touch of whimsy to your containers.  All these fall standards work well as filler or mid-level plants.

Heuchera is charming choice for fall containers because of the wide range of rich, earthy colors and the full leaves which are often variegated.  Coleus, too has striking, rich colors and gives an exotic look to your container.  Coleus is an annual, but it loves the weather we’re having right now.

Bold and bright Wilma Goldcrest Cypress

For thriller plants, especially large doorstep containers, the vibrant color of a Wilma Goldcrest Lemon Cypress tree is a great hardy choice and they have a wonderful lemony scent.  Nandinas, which take on fiery hues in the fall, would make a dramatic focal plant.

Grasses can play any role in your container

Grasses come in so many shapes, textures, colors and sizes they are almost an essential choice for container gardening.  Tall grasses have a firework aspect and make a dramatic thriller in any size container.   Many grasses also have a weeping habit and make great spiller plants.

If you want more ideas I highly recommend attending our Free Fall Container Gardening seminar this coming Sunday, September 23rd with Rachel Zeutenhorst.  Rachel is a Certified Professional Horticulturist with 20 years in the industry and was awarded the People’s Choice Award for her container display at the 2009 Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  It’s free and seating is limited so click here to register.

If you can’t make the class, stop into The Plant Farm anytime our staff is always ready to show you awesome plants and give you planting tips.  Like us on Facebook and share the results of your gardening with our Garden Club Members!

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Fall is an exhilarating time of the year for the perennial gardener. We still have a good 6 to 8 weeks of beautiful fall gardens ahead of us.  There are so many dramatic changes taking place in our landscapes on a daily basis; the winding down process is as exciting as the gearing up process in spring.  There are also several things to consider and do for next year’s garden.  One of those things is deciding which perennials you want to enjoy in your garden next spring.

Just as fall is the season to get spring bulbs into the ground, fall is also the best time to tuck new, spring-blooming perennials into your flowerbeds.   As I mentioned in last week’s blog entry, A Little Know Secret, planting in the fall instead of the spring ensures your perennial plants will create better roots and you will have stronger, healthier plants with improved blooming in the next year.

Many perennials now are starting the part of their cycle where they enter into a vegetative dormancy, so the blooms and top growth are dying back.  They aren’t the gorgeous, lush creatures they were in spring and summer, but just like Sleeping Beauty, they’ll slumber until their prince, or spring in this case, wakes them refreshed and blooming.

Right now, The Plant Farm has tables of these perennial beauties about to fall under winter’s spell and they’re 60% off the regular price.  Plus, it’s Dollar Days at The Plant Farm.  Bring in your Plant Farm Bucks for a double dip and you’ll save up to 80% on these select perennials.

Here are a few waiting to settle into your landscape this fall…

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a cousin of the gladiola and this plant is an aptly-named showy devil indeed.  This is definitely a plant to feature in your garden.  I did a double-take when I saw them in my neighbor’s yard this summer.  The brilliant flame-red blooms and long stem also make outstanding cut flowers.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are not truly lilies, but these gorgeous, fragrant perennials plants are rugged and adaptable.  They are easy to grow and an established Daylily clump can produced between 200 and 400 blooms in a season.

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) are an excellent choice for your shade garden; especially if you are looking for a plant to lend whimsical, romantic look to your garden.  Bleeding hearts prefer a well-drained garden bed and their delicate look works well set against shade-loving plants that feature broad and or tall foliage.

Coreopsis is a low maintenance, drought tolerant plant that offers tons of daisy-like blooms over the spring and summer season.   Most coreopsis varieties have a clump-forming habit and vibrant flowers in yellows, oranges and reds, which sit on tall stems above the foliage.   A variety like Sienna Sunset or Cherry Lemonade would make a vivid flowerbed or walkway border.

Columbine, especially the Winky varieties we have in stock, is an herbaceous flowering perennial featuring delicate foliage and pretty blooms that come in a wide range of colors.  Don’t let the delicate appearance fool you though.  Once their root system is established they are drought tolerant and self-seed readily.  They are very attractive to hummingbirds so they are a good choice if you’re planning a hummingbird garden.
A couple more thoughts on fall planting: Not all perennials need the same care, so keep all the tags for perennials you purchase and make a list or journal of the plants.  This way, you can keep track of seasonal tasks such as cut back the top growth as fall moves into winter.
And be sure to pick up some compost along with those sleeping beauties.  Use compost as a top coat at planting time, about 1/2 to 1 inch, to hold in soil moisture and warmth.  Add one more layer as winter arrives, another 2 or 3 inches, after the ground freezes to protect the plants during the cold months.

For other fall-gardening tips check out our What To Do In The Garden section on our website: http://www.theplantfarm.com/wtditg/wtditg-1109.htm   or visit us on Facebook.

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Hummingbirds are such a delight to share your garden with. They zip through the foliage, scoping out available eats.  Did you know that hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world?  Here are a few more fun facts about these little guys and girls:

• Hummingbird wings rotate a full 360° and they beat them 70-80 times a second.

• They have no sense of smell.

• They must feed approximately every 10 minutes and consume more than their weight in nectar each day.

• They are extremely territorial.

Red Hot Poker – Papaya Popsicle

Want to invite of a few of these tiny neighbors into your garden?  You can begin by creating a hummingbird haven.  Here are a few tips:

• Select a sunny spot that can be seen from a window or patio.

• Be sure there is shade nearby, making a good resting spot.

• Provide a source of clean, fresh water.

• Set out feeders when flowers are taking a break.

• Plant brightly colored, nectar-filled flowers.  Red is their favorite color.

The sweet nectar of many annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs make delightful dining for local hummingbirds. From spring through fall, you’ll find these lovely creatures out enjoying the blooms.

Here are a few plants that hummingbirds just can’t resist.

Agastache – Nectar Orange

Achillea – Yarrow


Alcea – Hollyhock

Aquilegia – Columbine





Delphinium – Summer Blues





Echinacea – Coneflower

Erysimum – Wallflower



Impatiens – Sunpatien White


Heliotropium – Heliotrope


Kniphofia – Red Hot Poker


Leucanthemum – Shasta Daisy



Penstemon – Grape Taffy

Monarda – Bee Balm


Origanum – Oregano








If you have any questions about which plants would do well in your garden, come in and see us.  Or you can post your questions here, too!

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