Why Perennials: Good for you!

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Why Perennials

By eclayne
June 21, 2013

How have your views of gardening changed over the years? I had always had an appreciation for gardens and gardening, but my interest was in trees and shrubs, evergreens in particular because of our long drab winters.

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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jun 20, 2013 7:50 PM CST
Evan, I am so glad you caught the perennial bug!! It will be fun to watch your perennial gardens grow.
Very lovely pictures in your article, too. Thumbs up
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Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
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stilldew
Jun 21, 2013 12:12 AM CST
Lush, lovely textures. When I first moved into my house all I had was shade. I was very bored with hostas at that time, but after a few storms and a number of fallen trees, my yard turned to almost all full sun. I love the sun, but after a time started to miss the foliage and all the shades of greens, blues and gold. Now as the new tree is starting to grow I'm adding back some hostas and have also discovered heuchera. Your beds are a real inspiration to keep adding more of the wonderful shade and part shade plants.
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crittergarden
Jun 21, 2013 12:38 PM CST
EXCELLENT post.
Fun and happy, as I remember my own learning curve (which I am still on) being.
Hurray!
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crittergarden
Jun 21, 2013 12:48 PM CST
And by the way - just WAIT until you find out how many flowering perennial plants are evergreen!!!
That's the current binge I'm on.
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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Jun 21, 2013 11:25 PM CST

Plants Admin

crittergarden said:And by the way - just WAIT until you find out how many flowering perennial plants are evergreen!!!
That's the current binge I'm on.


Where's the thread, I want in! I have some Heuchera which are evergreen and one fern and I think that's it.
Evan
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Jun 22, 2013 12:01 AM CST
I don't think there's a thread... I just did a massive plant hunt.
I could work up a list tho.

Some favorites of mine:
culinary sage
Penstemon
Dianthus
sedum rupestre 'Angelina' and many other sedum
veronica liwanensis
thyme 'lime frost'
ajuga
Veronica repens 'Sunshine' (Sunshine Dwarf Speedwell)
Hollies

Just off the top of my head, mentally touring my garden at 02:00....
Be sure to check the specs for individual cultivars to make sure.
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crittergarden
Jun 22, 2013 4:31 AM CST
RHODODENDRONS!!!!!
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crittergarden
Jun 22, 2013 5:51 AM CST
LITHODORA!!!!
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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Jun 22, 2013 9:09 AM CST

Plants Admin

What a goofball. I cut back my Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis) in late fall. Now I'll spread it around and prune in late winter.
Evan
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Jun 22, 2013 10:44 AM CST
Am very much of a colour (sunshine) perennial gardener myself, but love your beds.

For gardening to a certain level, at least with our growing conditions:
I'm sure perennial gardening is a lot more of a challenge than annual gardening.

Would say that here the average mixed perennial bed goes through perhaps a five year cycle, being best in the second/third year after planting.
By the fifth year, it's time to pull it apart and start again.
There are some, typically deep-rooted, perennials that it's not good to disturb and that it may be best to work around.

Barring this, you just end up with a small variety of particularly hardy plants (significance for me, a small amount of colour through the growing season).

You can look at individual perennials separately (e.g. divide every three, or whatever, years), but if there's a lot of different perennials in a bed, I find I need to deal with whole beds, or sections of whole beds, at the same time.

It's amazing how much work, expense and knowledge mixed perennial gardening can be, though keeping on top of things during the five years, makes it very much easier.
And besides, there's a lot of enjoyment in both the challenge and the product.
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crittergarden
Jun 22, 2013 1:14 PM CST
I can't imagine starting over every few years! Even one whole bed.
I'm *trying* to pick long lasting ones and several favorites that multiply easily and will need to be dug and divided when they look like they do.
I'm at the early stages though, still propagating to fill my spaces.
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Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Jun 22, 2013 8:09 PM CST
I do just renovate sections of our own flower beds, rather than whole beds, Critter.

I do also agree that different gardeners have different tolerances for perceived imperfection in perennial beds.

In fact, chasing some part of horticultural perfection in perennial gardening might be a fool's errand - perennials just do their own thing - such as run amuk (you can usually avoid those) or, if they don't like the growing conditions, die!
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crittergarden
Jun 23, 2013 1:53 AM CST
I think perhaps you are more of an artist than I in how you arrange your plants.
If I lose a plant I'll just replace it with another, often completely different.
My beds aren't so much "arranged" as they are "accumulated".
The front is done but in the back as I said, I'm at the early stages, still propagating to fill my spaces.
Things may change after I get it like I want it.
Gardens do!
Smiling
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Name: Stephanie
Salem, OR (Zone 8b)
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kosk0025
Jun 23, 2013 3:36 PM CST
Absolutely stunning photographs! Thank you.
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Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Jun 24, 2013 2:54 PM CST

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Wonderful article and images Evan, really enjoyed it! Thumbs up
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