Think of perennials as sleeping beauties. They thrive and flower in the spring and summer, take their beauty rest during the fall and winter, and return rejuvenated the following spring. The Latin, "perennial" means through the year, which reflects the life cycle of perennials.
Blue False Indigo
In 2010, Perennial Plant Association (PPA) members voted the Baptisia australis as the "Perennial Plant of the Year." It is more commonly called blue false indigo, an unusual name that refers back to the days when early settlers in North America used this native plant to produce dye. Growing between 3 to 4 feet high and equally wide, this perennial exhibits violet-blue springtime blooms and complementary bluish-green leaves to create an eye-catching landscape. After about 4 weeks, the flowers make room for inflated seed pods, nice for dried flower arrangements. The only absolute requirement for growing blue false indigo is a garden setting of well-drained soil in full sun. Blue false indigo is highly adaptable, and can create an ideal spring and summer garden in the company of other flowering perennial selections.
Leucanthemum is the genus from which come many varieties of Shasta daisies. They are herbaceous perennials that bring a vivacious aspect to any garden and make ideal border flowers. Shasta daisies begin to bloom in late spring, and flower for several months thereafter. This attractive bloom is a hybrid created by the renowned American horticulturist, Luther Burbank (1849 to 1926). Happily for gardeners, Shasta daisies practically take care of themselves, growing easily in well-drained soil and full sun. Just about the only challenge is which varieties to select. For example, "Broadway Lights" starts off with bright yellow flowers that turn to other shades over several months. "Crazy Daisy" has large double blooms and fluffy petals. "Snow Lady," a dwarf Shasta, is a 1991 All-America award winner.
There is no shortage of choices when planning a perennial garden. Think about easygoing red, pink or white geraniums (Geranium genus), which grow from rhizomes and thrive in full sun. The Delphinium genus offers flowers in colors and sizes to suit every garden and perennial group. Delphiniums prefer cool, moist conditions, and they are lovely cut flowers too. Tall bearded irises (Iris germanica) also make graceful garden displays in a rainbow of colors including purple, white, yellow and scarlet. Be sure to plant the rhizomes in a sunny area and at least 12 inches apart, because they grow rapidly and take over if not kept in check.