Category Archives: Perennials

Baptisia australis Perennial Plant of the Year

Every year the Perennial Plant Association and its members select a plant that they feel is worthy of the title Perennial Plant of the Year.  Please have a look at their website and if you have a passion for perennials and aren’t a member please join.  It is membership in associations that helps keep this information flowing and new research continuing.  Here is this years winner……

Baptisia australis also known as False Indigo

2010 Perennial Plant of the Year ™

Light: Plants thrive in full sun. Plants grown in partial shade may require staking.

Soil: This North American native is easily grown in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after establishment.

Uses: This spring flowering shrub-like perennial may be used to fill the back of the border or in the wild garden.

Unique Qualities: The combination of flower and leaf color is dramatic in the early blooming season. Flowers are followed by inflated seed pods that are useful for dried flower arrangements.

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9

This is a great plant that I have been growing for years.  There are many new cultivars in use.  This is a perennial that everyone should try in their garden.

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Piet Oudolf

I have admired and watched Piet Oudolf’s work since I first starting doing design work.  His work with perennials is regarded as some of the most influential work that has been done.  Piet took perennials out of the english garden and started working with them on a much more massive scale.  The tenant I was always taught was to work in odd numbers of 5 and 7 when work with perennials; Piet instead works with 50-70 of a plant.  The result is magical and creates and creates an ephemeral play of light, color and form as the seasons change.  What many people fail to see is the structural work that he does so well; this man is not a one trick pony!  He works with form and space and extremely confidently manipulates them to move you through the garden as he wants.

A few years ago we met at ANLA’s management clinic (if you are in the industry this is a must attend event) and I had the chance to spend a few nights with him having dinner and talking.  He is filled to the brim with knowledge and stories and ready to share them both.  He was kind and encouraging and invited me to come visit; hopefully that will happen soon!


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October Perennial Care

IMG_0292Many people bemoan their perennial gardens in the Fall.  For me, it is one of my favorite times of the year.  There are so many wonderful colors and textures at play in the garden that can be overlooked.  Ornamental grasses really come into play right now and the wonderful merlot colors of plants like the ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum pictured above are at their peak.  This is a great time of the year to install new perennial plantings but you want to make sure that it is getting done now so that new plantings have enough time to take root and be ready to over winter the upcoming cold weather and freezes.  Here is a quick list of what you need to be thinking about in your perennial garden right now:

  • Make sure that you are getting you Fall plantings in the ground so they have the time to establish themselves before winter.
  • All of your divisions and transplanting need to take place now as well
  • Fall can be a dry time in many areas so don’t forget to water new plantings and check your existing plantings to make sure they are receiving enough moisture as well.
  • Start to remove excess leaf build up from around the base of your plants
  • Mulch in tender perennials to make sure they have the insulation they need to go into winter.
  • After the first frost look your perennials over to see what is looking bad and go ahead and cut those back for the year.

As always I have to pay credit to The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.  You will find all of the monthly care tips I post and much more information there.  To order your own copy of her book click on the title above

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Cutting back Perennials

I have talked about cutting back your summer blooming perennials and wanted you to see an example.  I saw this Rudebeckia get cut back about three weeks ago during my morning routine of going through the drive through to get coffee.  This morning I looked down and here it was; not blooming profusely but re-blooming none the less.IMG_0284

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September Perennial Care


  • It’s hard to believe that September is already here.  At he wise age of 31 it is amazing how each year seems to pass more quickly.  This is a great time of the year to be getting things done in the garden.  Temperatures are cooling down making it so much more comfortable to work outside.  There is a lot to do this time of year in your perennial garden.  My favorite thing to do this time of year is to walk through my garden and think about changes that need to be made for next year.  Winter is approaching so make notes to help tide you over through the colder months.    Here is a quick list of some of what you need to be considering this month.
  • Planting and Division:  with temperatures cooling off now is a great time to look around and see what is overgrown.  The cooler temperatures make division less stressful and in turn less care you have to put into the plants.  Make sure to use a good root stimulant to help your plants get started.  By transplanting and installing new plants now you are also allowing them enough time to establish their root system so that they don’t heave out of the ground with the first freeze.
  • Now is the time to install your bulbs.  The first thing that comes to mind are spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips and Daffodils; but don’t forget to think about your Peonies, Poppies and Iris as well.
  • Continue to weed!!!  The more consistent you are with this the less of it you are going to have to keep up with overall.  It is also a good time to get your final round of pre-emergent down.
  • Pruning and deadheading for your late summer blooming plants and any others that look past their prime which you haven’t gotten to yet.
  • If you have any beds that need a little bit of touch up mulch now is the time to get it down.  Make sure to look at past post which you can get to by clicking here to make sure you aren’t using too much mulch.

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Perennial Care for July


Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’

It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid July.  It seems like each year goes faster than the last.  Your chores in your perennial beds change this time of year.  A lot of areas start to dry out more than they do in the Spring and you have more insects to consider.  Planting should only be done this time of year if you have the time to water your new plants consistently.  The same applies to any transplanting or dividing that you are thinking about.  Make sure that these waterings are less frequent but deeper.  By watering more deeply you are encouraging the plants roots to go deeper.  Here are a few more things you need to make sure to look after:

  1. Perennials that have been cut back will also need to be looked after for water.
  2. Heavy-feeding perennials or those that have been cut back to encourage a second bloom could stand to be fertilized with a water soluble fertilizer.
  3. Aerating may be needed in compacted areas.
  4. Staking may be needed in compacted areas.
  5. Watch for mites, beetles and other insects and slugs this time of year.  If you have a specific question you can always email me an image and I’ll post it here to help others out as well.
  6. Older plants that have gotten leggy can be cut back.  Tradescantia is a good example of what might need to be trimmed back.
  7. Deadleaf plants that have already bloomed and are starting to look bad; at the same time make sure you are keeping up with your deadheading.

As always I have to give credit where it is due.  If you would like the same reading material I am looking at for these hints look for The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracey DiSabato-Aust.

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June Perennial Care

DSC_0002Summer is here and there is much to do in the garden.  Having just gotten back from vacation I returned last night to a garden that needed a lot of weeding and touch up.  Most of your perennials should be in the ground by now but you can still get some planting done.  Pruning is at the top of my list right now for both perennials and some shrubs.  My boxwood need a touch up pruning right now and I am tipping some new growth off some of my flowering shrubs to keep them within in the size that I want to maintain them at.  Here is your list of “June to-do’s”.

Make sure to keep an eye on your roses.  I have started to spray for both insect control and for Black Spot.  Make sure if you have Black Spot that you are also picking up any leaves that have fallen to the ground with spots as they will keep the disease present and make it more difficult to get rid of.

Be sure that any new plantings are kept well watered but not soaked.

Weed, Weed, Weed.  Now is the time when seeds really start to germinate.  If you are using a pre-emergent in your garden now is the time to apply a second application.

Continue to cut back spring flowering perennials.  This will often encourage a new set of blooms and extend the bloom time of many perennials.

Deadhead.  This will also extend the amount of blooms that you get out of a plant.

Cutback any foliage that doesn’t look good.  You can also be trimming to keep plants within the space that you want.

If you have any other questions you can always let me know.  I will be more that happy to answer your questions.

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