Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘astilbe’

Lavender

Lavender

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

Penstemon

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.

Read Full Post »

Hosta

Hosta

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

Bergenia

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.

Astilbe

Astilbe

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.

Peony

Peony

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!

Read Full Post »