Archive for the ‘Seasonal Bedding’ Category

pansies-and-violasThough we call them “Pansies,” they are anything but wimpy. One of the toughest flowers, Pansies are perfect in our climate. They come packed with history, folklore, symbolism and fun facts.

Wikipedia tells us that “the pansy is a group of large-flowered hybrid plants cultivated as garden flowers. Pansies are derived from viola species Viola tricolor, hybridized with other viola species. These hybrids are referred to as Viola. The common words “pansy” and “violet” are often used interchangeably. When a distinction is made, plants considered to be pansies have four petals pointing upwards, and only one pointing down. Violets have three petals pointing up and two pointing down.”

The Meaning of the Names:

viola-yellow-sorbetThe website flowerforyou.org tells us that the Victorian meaning of Pansy is “to think,” particularly of love. If a maiden found a honeyflower and a pansy left for her by an admirer, it would mean “I am thinking of our forbidden love” in symbol rather than in writing. However, it is considered a bad-luck gift to man. Violet, however, means “modesty,” hence the term “shrinking violet.” Color also influences the message. Blue means “I’ll always be true, faithful and watchful,” whereas white means “let’s take a chance.”

Use as Emblems:

pansy-whiteSeveral states, cities and organizations have chosen the violet or pansy to represent them. The common blue violet is the state flower of Rhode Island, Illinois and New Jersey, while Wisconsin chose the wood violet. Osaka, Japan has the pansy as its city flower. The Kappa Alpha Theta sorority’s flowers are black and gold pansies. The pansy is also Tri Delta’s flower. It is a symbol of alumnae membership and the third step in the lifetime development of Delta Delta Delta’s members. It is also is the symbol of freethought, its usage inaugurated in the literature of the American Secular Union in the late 1800s.

The reasoning behind the pansy being the symbol of freethought lies in both the flower’s name and appearance. The pansy derives its name from the French word pensée, which means “thought”; it was so named because the flower resembles a human face, and in mid-to-late summer it nods forward as if deep in thought. The French believed that pansies could make your lover think of you.

Folklore and Mythology:

pansy-yellow-purpleThe three colors of the original pansy, purple, white and yellow, were thought to symbolize memories, loving thoughts, and souvenirs — all things that ease the hearts of separated lovers. The three petals were thought to be representative of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and thus the flower was sometimes called herb trinity.

In German and Scottish folktales, pansies were called stepmother: the large lower petal is the mother, the two large petals to either side of her are the well-dressed daughters, and the two small upper petals are poor stepdaughters.

In another German story, the pansy at one time had a wonderfully strong, sweet scent. People would travel from miles around to smell this scent. In doing so, however, they would trample down the grasses surrounding the pansy. Because this ruined the feed for cattle, the pansy prayed to God for help. God gave the plant great beauty but took away the scent.

According to the doctrine of signatures, pansy leaves, which are heart shaped, were used to cure a broken heart.

Pansies were used to foretell the future for King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Plucking a pansy petal, the knights would look for secret signs. If the petal had four lines, this meant hope. If the lines were thick and leaned toward the left, this meant a life of trouble. Lines leaning toward the right signified prosperity until the end. Seven lines meant constancy in love (and if the center streak were the longest, Sunday would be the wedding day). Eight streaks meant fickleness, nine meant a changing of heart, and eleven signified disappointment in love and an early grave.


pansy-bluePansy has dozens of common names, such as Johnny-jump-up, and the faces created by the patterns on the petals give rise to names like monkey faces, peeping Tom, and three faces in a hood. Its supposed magical powers in the ways of love resulted in names such as cull-me-to-you, tickle-my-fancy, love-in-idleness, kiss-her-in-the-pantry, and heartease.

Nicholas Culpeper, a seventeenth century English writer, said that a syrup made from the flowers was used as a cure for venereal disease. The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet a symbol of fertility and love, and used it in love potions. Pliny recommended that a garland of violets be worn above the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. The Celts made a tea from the dried leaves and used it as love potion.

In Literature and the Arts:

pansy-red-whitePansies and violets play a central role in many well-known plays, especially those of William Shakespeare. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the juice of a pansy blossom (“before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, and maidens call it love-in-idleness”) is a love potion: “the juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote (fall in love) upon the next live creature that it sees.” (Act II, Scene I). In Hamlet, Laertes wishes that violets may spring from the grave of Ophelia: “Lay her in the earth,/ And from her fair and unpolluted flesh/ May violet spring” (v.I). Even Ophelia refers to them, “There’s pansies, that’s for thoughts”, in Hamlet (Act IV, Scene V).

pansy-okeefeLegend says that at one time all pansies were white, and it was not until they were pierced by cupid’s arrow that they gained the purple and yellow colors. With the colors, however, came the magic power to be used in love potions.

Throughout the ages, the violet has been the emblem of constancy. A Proverb states, “Violet is for faithfulness,/ Which in me shall abide, / Hoping likewise that from your heart/ You will not let it hide.”

In 1926, Georgia O’Keeffe created a famous painting of a black pansy called simply, Pansy. She followed with White Pansy in 1927. D. H. Lawrence’s Pansies: Poems by D. H. Lawrence was published in 1929.

Pansy was the name of a beloved Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Custom guitar with an Alpine White finish, played by guitarist Frank Iero (whose nickname, coincidentally, is also Pansy) of the band My Chemical Romance. Pansy was unfortunately broken during a show.

pansy-aliceMovie fans may remember Disney’s classical animated adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, which features a chorus of singing pansies.

Clearly, Pansies and Violas have played a major role in human activity for centuries. But, for most of us, what we love about these beautiful flowers is their vibrant colors, which include yellow, orange, red, white and even near-black (a very dark purple). They grow well in sun and partial sun and look fabulous in any garden.

Now is a great time to add the history and beauty of Pansies and Voilas to your yard. Come on in to The Plant Farm and pick up some of these colorful flowers (and feel free to use some of these fun facts to impress your friends!)


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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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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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seed-startingIt’s time to banish the winter blues, so who out there is hoping Mr. Groundhog won’t see his shadow so that spring will come early? I know at The Plant Farm we sure are! Daily shipments of inspiring new plants and tools arrive at our receiving dock. Seeing the new product come in has us excited to plan our gardens and get some seeds sprouting!

TPF's Edibles Expert Kip Litehiser

TPF’s Edibles Expert Kip Litehiser

This year, we wish you abundance and a thriving new garden. To that end, I had a chat with our edibles expert, Kip Litehiser, about what factors are necessary for a successful garden and how he prepares for a new garden season.

Right about now, Kip is planning what he’ll grow this year and he’s purchasing his seeds so he can get his seedlings going. Kip likes to break his seed starting into two phases; early starts, which he does indoors, and later in the spring, seeds that will be sown directly into the ground.

Plant lettuce early and you'll harvest more often.

Plant lettuce early and you’ll harvest more often.

“February is the time for early starts like your tough-to-grow-in-the-ground plants; parsley and hearty herbs, artichokes and onions,” he says. It’s also a good time to start plants you’ll want to harvest early and often, like lettuce and beans.

Soil temperature is a key component in raising crops and our Pacific Northwest climate can be challenging in that regard. “Warm soil is key. It’s almost more important than sunshine. Sunshine is obviously important, but you can have sunshine and still have cold ground soil,” Kip says. That’s why Kip prefers to use

The soil in raised beds warms more quickly.

The soil in raised beds warms more quickly.

raised beds for his garden. The soil is up off the ground and takes on the sun’s warmth more quickly.

Plants that need a longer growing season than our Pacific Northwest climate affords need to be started indoors. This allows the plants to become more established and hardy. They will be stronger when they are transplanted into the garden soil in mid-to-late March. The Plant Farm has your back on this one. We’re once again offering a Seed Starting Success Kit designed to make starting your garden from seeds easy and efficient. Like last year, the kit includes an excellent seed starting soil and Dr. Earth Starter, an organic fertilizer. This year we’ve added a couple of cool
The secret to success is our Seed Starting Success Kit

The secret to success is our Seed Starting Success Kit

new tools: A Lusterleaf Rapidclip Seed Sower, for more accurate seed dispersal, and a Planters Pride Self Watering Grow System with Coir pots. Coir is a biodegradable, coconut husk fiber that allows you to transplant your seed start into the ground, pot and all, protecting the root system when transplanting.We know how intimidating or frustrating starting seeds can be. For personal attention to your questions and concerns, come into The Plant Farm and look up our Edibles expert, Kip. He’ll be thrilled to share his knowledge so you’ll have a successful seed starting process this year.

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We are all threads woven together into the fabric of our community.  The way we live, shop, play and even garden has an effect on that community and we all want that effect to be supportive and thriving.  Going green is an excellent way to have a positive impact.  Whether your goal is to practice stewardship of the earth, help the local economy or save some green in your wallet, we’ve come up with 12 simple ways you can go green this gardening season.

#1 Recycle Your Pots at The Plant Farm
Instead of sending your pots to the landfill, bring them into The Plant Farm. We have two green recycle bins located inside our store where you can recycle your pots.  We will sort through your pots and make sure that each type of pot is either recycled or reused.

#2 Re-Use Your Plant Farm Carry Out Box
Every time you shop with us and bring back your Plant Farm carry out box, we will give you 10 cents off your current purchase for every box reused.  Don’t forget to keep your box in your trunk for the next time you shop at The Plant Farm.

#3 Save a Tree – Go Paperless
Using E-Coupons or QR Codes (QR stands for Quick Response) means a lot less paper waste in order to get your Plant Farm discount.  Instead of printing the coupon from the email, show us the coupon on your smartphone when you check out.  For customers who don’t have a smartphone, we’ll provide a stock number on the email coupon. When you’re ready to check out, tell us the stock number on the coupon and we’ll give you your discount.

#4 Raise Your Own Orchard Mason Bees
Orchard Mason Bees are native to our region and pollinate in the early spring when our weather is wet and cool, while honeybees need warmer, less rainy weather.  Raising your own bees will mean increased fruit, nut and berry production for your home garden.  Join us for one of our seasonal Mason Bee Seminars or come in for our help sheet on caring for these wonderful garden buddies.

#5 Plant Native Plants
Native plants are already adapted to our Pacific Northwest environment. Their nutrient and watering needs are based on our soils and weather patterns, which saves you money on your water bill and means you don’t have to spend money on soil amendments to change the pH of your soil. This also means they have fewer disease issues and you spend less time and money doctoring your plants.  They are the no fuss, foolproof plants.  For more information on the benefits of native plants, visit our website at www.theplantfarm.com.

#6 Grow Your Own Veggie & Herb Garden
Growing your own veggies and herbs means you will have confidence in the food on your table.  You know your crops are organic and no unknown chemicals or fertilizers applied, and your soil is providing high quality edibles.  Eating crops straight from your backyard means higher nutrients obtained.  Better soil equals better plants, which equals better nutrition for you!

#7 Use Organic & Cultural Practices
Unlike conventional fertilizers and pest controls, organics are neither harmful to people and pets nor toxic to earthworms and beneficial microbes. Organic fertilizers and pest controls work naturally within your garden to enrich your soil and control unwanted pests without destroying microbes and beneficial insects. In conjunction with using organic products, we recommend you incorporate cultural practices such as applying compost, spacing, drip irrigation or soaker hose, pruning and general landscape cleaning. Top-dressing compost in your landscape improves your soil and healthy soil means healthy plants. The practice of spacing prevents disease by increasing air circulation and limits your need to doctor your plants.

#8 Reduce Waste by Composting
Composting has become an attractive way to manage yard waste and recycle natural materials. Some people are surprised to find many of the items that go into our everyday garbage can be composted or recycled.  The vital ingredients for premium compost are brown (carbon) materials such as leaves, straw and paper and green (nitrogen) materials such as grass clippings and food waste.  The easiest alternative to a compost pile is a compost bin. Our website has great tips on composting or just come in and see us, we’ll give you all the information to get you started.

#9 Mulch to Improve Your Soil
Mulch is a great, natural way to improve your soil from the top to bottom layer.  Utilize your compost made from your own kitchen scraps and other compostables, to improve soil microbial activity and diversity, soil fertility, aeration, texture and, if that isn’t enough, it helps maintain moisture content.  A layer in your flowerbeds will also aid in weed suppression and removal.

#10 Conserve Water with Efficient Systems
Water conservation can be accomplished with drip irrigation or a soaker hose. Whether you currently use a sprinkler or hand water, more than 50% of the water is lost to evaporation and therefore won’t reach the plant. Drip irrigation or a soaker hose will provide 90% or greater of the water to the soil with only a loss of 10% or less to evaporation. The benefits to using either of these systems includes consistent and deep watering, weed suppression, disease control and a lower water bill.   Consistent and deep watering provides better growth, fruit and blooms.

#11 Collect Rainwater, Conserve Ground Water
Because the Pacific Northwest receives such an abundance of rain, we often forget that our gardens need water in dryer months like July and August. Oftentimes the drier season can extend into the fall, but using rain barrels to collect water while it’s raining is the best way to plan for the dry season. Collecting the rainwater will also conserve ground water, which is easy to deplete and hard to replenish. It can take up to 300 years to replenish ground water once it’s been removed.

#12 Buy Local to Support Your Local Economy
Buying local not only keeps dollars in our community, but it offers local jobs and provides savings for you. Here at The Plant Farm, 80% of the plants in our garden center are grown by us or are from local growers. In addition, locally grown plants have a shorter distance to travel, which means better quality and far less fuel consumption.  Given current fuel prices, this translates into greater savings for you.

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Do you know the difference between an annual and a perennial?  Not to worry if you don’t!  You are in good company; even among many gardeners.  The simple difference is an annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season, whereas a perennial plant lives for more than two years.

In gardening, the term annual mainly applies to plants grown outdoors in the spring and summer that complete their lifecycle within the course of a year.  Some short-lived annual varieties bloom and die back within a few weeks.  The term perennial usually refers to plants, especially small non-woody plants that have a life cycle lasting more than two years.  Technically the term perennial applies to trees and shrubs, but that’s a whole other blog…

Some perennials, herbaceous perennials, which have soft, green stems, grow and bloom over the spring and summer, then die back every autumn and winter, and return in the spring.  Evergreen perennials, such as some grasses and Heuchera, don’t die back, but retain their form year-round.

Climate, especially a colder climate, has a large impact on how a plant is classified.  Some plants we consider annuals in the Pacific Northwest are considered perennial plants in the perpetually warmer climates of the South and Southwest of our country.   I think this is a factor in the confusion of some gardeners, both amateur and established alike, experience.  It’s easy to see why many feel a bit fuzzy on the delineation of the terms.

Lupins Popsicle Mix

Lupins Popsicle Mix

I have to admit that when I hear annual, I think of flowers like Petunias and Calibrachoa, and when I hear perennial, I think of ornamental grasses or the striking forms of succulents.   However, I was recently awakened by our staff to the amazing variety of flowering perennials available.  Below is a list of my new favorite flowering perennials:

Lupins are striking flowering perennial plants.   We are currently carrying a mixed color series called Popsicle and I cannot think of a more fitting metaphor for these delicious looking blue, red, purple, yellow, pink and bicolor plant treats.



Bergenia otherwise known as pigsqueaks, is an evergreen perennial which features spikes of flowers in shades ranging between white and dark pink, and large rounded evergreen leaves.  Honestly, how can you resist a plant called pigsqueak?  The large foliage looks great, when mixed with a lighter, softer flowering perennial like Astilbe.

Astilbe features graceful fern-like foliage and is loaded with tall, feathery blooms that vary in color from white and soft pink to fiery red.  Astilbes are also a wonderfully low-maintenance plant for your yard.



Echinacea plants, sometimes known as coneflowers, not only provide an extract with extensive health benefits; they also have fantastic, vivid blooms that last all summer.  It’s a plant that does well in heat and drought, and butterflies adore it, so it’s a perfect addition to a butterfly garden.  They have great variety names too: have some Tomato Soup with your Mac-n-Cheese!

Bleeding Hearts are a time-honored favorite in a shade garden and lends a delicate and romantic look to your garden.  Some say the pink and/or white blooms look like tiny bloomers hanging on a line to dry, but I’ve always fancied

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

they look like a paper chain of hearts.

Hosta is a shade loving perennial plant with fantastic foliage. Interspersing Hostas in a shade garden with Bleeding Hearts, mentioned above, would look fantastic; especially a golden or variegated variety of Hosta.  They are easy to grow and have the added bonus of the blooms attracting hummingbirds.

The Peony has such gorgeous, showy blooms.   I’m going to let the picture speak on behalf of their beauty.  I will say that Peonies are long-lived flowering perennials, prefer full sun and they actually grow best in cool climates.

Coreopsis Mango Punch

Coreopsis Mango Punch

Coreopsis is a bright and sunny choice of flowering perennial.  They have a compact growing habit and long-lasting blooms in brilliant hues.  Coreopsis is sun loving and easy to maintain in your garden

Penstemon is another brilliant hued flowering perennial plant characterized by a tall stem dense with tubular blooms.  The blooms work well for cut flowers and are another flowering perennial plant that attracts hummingbirds.   Pentemon is another great low-maintenance plant for your landscape.

Penstemon Blueberry Taffy

Penstemon Blueberry Taffy

There is a definite advantage to planting flowering perennials in that they do not have to be planted every year.   Some perennials have a short flowering cycle; however, with some planning you can have perennials in bloom most of the season. Even when not in bloom, perennials with colorful or interesting foliage can provide interest year round and annuals can be folded in with perennials to create an unbroken colorful display.

Beyond flowering perennials there are even more perennials that provide wonderful textures, shapes and color to your landscape.  Their ongoing lifecycle make them a true investment.  As with any good investment, you get the dividend of plants that can be divided regularly and planted in other areas of your landscape or shared with friends and family.



If this blog has inspired you, I highly recommending coming into The Plant Farm to explore the world of perennials and talk with our staff for suggestions.  This week we have a Buy One, Get One Free offer on perennials.  So, now is an excellent time to start your exploration!

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