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Perfect Perennials for Every Garden

by Lynn Hunt

The word perennial comes from Latin and means "throughout the year." It
is also defined as enduring. Varied and versatile, perennials have been
around forever. However, it is British super gardener Gertrude Jekyll who is
credited with inventing the perennial or herbaceous border. Her idea was to
create groups of plantings that would provide color and interest from season
to season, year to year. Thanks to the comeback power of perennials, we can
enjoy the pleasures of a mature garden indefinitely without a great deal of
fuss or effort.

My fabulous five.
Everyone has a pet perennial they feel is essential to gardening success.
Some of mine may seem surprising. For example, I find Artemesia ‘Powis
Castle’ to be a real workhorse. Like most pet perennials it is attractive,
carefree and adaptable. The lovely silvery filigree has spread like a carpet
beneath my roses and serves as a perfect backdrop for any color bloom.  The
plant also, according to legend, has the power to protect me from the Evil
Eye, plagues, lightning and the bite of a sea dragon.
We can thank the Pilgrims for bringing daylilies to North America.  
These favorites from grandmother’s garden are often referred to as those
"orange things" growing along the roadside. Actually, today’s daylilies are
available in colors and forms that boggle the mind-from pink, purple and
black to yellow and gold. They’re easy to care for, they multiply rapidly and
aren’t too fussy about climate. By choosing the right varieties you can
extend the season of bloom from early June right through until frost.
Peonies are another good choice for virtually every North American
perennial garden. They are prized for their form, stunning range of colors,
exceptional hardiness and ease of culture. The leaves make an attractive
plant even before the buds form. When the flower finally opens, all of the
anticipation is rewarded with one of the most beautiful blooms in the garden.
Double-flowered peonies will need to be staked to keep their heavy heads
standing tall. Interestingly, your peonies may outlive you – some plants
survive for 100 years or more.

Hardy geraniums (not to be confused with the annual bedding plants) are often
overlooked as important perennials. Colors range from white to blue to
several shades of pink. They are excellent choices for the perennial border
and can be useful in tying different flower combinations together.
Catmints are absolutely "purrfect" as edging plants for perennial beds and
herb gardens.  I have about ten varieties that I plant in drifts between my
roses. Two new additions this season have been particularly impressive.
‘Souvenir d’Andre Chaudron’ grows to about three feet and features beautiful
sprays of deep lavender-blue flowers.  The blooms started appearing in May
and with judicial pruning have continued throughout the entire summer.
‘Nepeta Dawn to Dusk’ offers rose pink tubular flowers -- a nice departure
from the usual shades of blue.
These are just a few of the perennials that can make dramatic statements
in your garden.  Experiment till you find a combination that works.  I’d
strongly advise placing at least one artemesia somewhere in your garden.
Carry a sprig of the lacy foliage in your pocket at all times. After all, you
never know when you’ll need protection from the bite of a sea dragon.

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