The Power of Perennials
A perennial plant can be defined as any plant that returns each growing season. It may be short-lived or long-lived depending on its classification, climate it’s grown in, growing conditions and how it’s treated. Ultimately a perennial emerges in spring, grows and flowers throughout the growing season, dies back in fall and winter, then returns the next growing season. Perennials that grow from a rootstock or from the ground are classified as herbaceous perennials.
Perennials are a versatile and adaptable group of plants. Gardeners can choose perennials that prefer sun or shade, perennials that withstand drought or extra moisture, perennials that attract bees and butterflies, perennials that are fragrant, perennials with flowers of a specific colour or perennials that just simply bloom. Whatever your need, want, preference, limitations or garden conditions there is likely a perennial to fit the bill.
Whether you are starting from scratch with a new perennial border or adding perennials to an existing tree and shrub bed creating a mixed border, there are a few things to consider before you start shopping for the perfect perennial collection. Soil, sun and moisture are three main parameters with which to start building your perennial wish list. If your garden bed is mostly shady and doesn’t dry out too quickly, you’re likely looking for shade or woodland perennials. Dry areas in mostly sun will require perennials that prefer full sun conditions and drier soil, look for drought tolerant plants. Soil can be amended to accommodate preferred growing habitats, but sun conditions are tougher to change, so choose the right plant for the right place.
Principles of garden design dictate that height and spread of perennials and time of bloom should be taken into consideration to create a well-rounded perennial or mixed border. Flower colour and size, leaf colour and texture, specific attributes (ie. fragrance or pollinator attractors) should also be brought into the decision-making process just to name a few. Taking a walk through our Perennial selection in the Greenhouse with planting list in hand is a great place to start and we have many experienced gardeners on staff that will be happy to help you out.
As we celebrate June, the Perennial Gardening Month be warned of developing a perennial passion. Ultimately those of us who garden in our challenging climate may not always follow the rules of Perennial Gardening 101. As we walk down aisles full of perennials (or any plants honestly), there is always one that stands out and draws us in…size, growing conditions and attributes no longer matter, because there’s always room somewhere for one (or two, or three) more…