Answer: Gardening with perennials is both rewarding and a challenge because not only do they bloom at different times, but their performance can also vary from year to year depending on the seasonal variations. Consequently, some gardeners find it easier to use perennials as accent plants and surround them with annuals which bloom consistently throughout the season.
Having said that, you might want to look at a book or two about perennials -- there are so many plants available it would be impossible to list them here! Here are some you may find helpful: "Perennials for Dummies" by Marcia Tatroe ISBN 0764550306; "Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials" by Ellen Phillips and C. Colston Burrell ISBN: 0875965709; and "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden : Planting & Pruning Techniques" by Tracy Disabato-Aust, Steven M. Still ISBN: 0881924148. The Rodale book in particular has numerous sample planting plans.
Finally, if you take notes and the occasional photograph of your plantings you will begin to see how the plants perform in your own garden and microclimate and will be able to build on your own experience. With a little trial and error (and maybe some transplanting) you will have things looking great!
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