Welcome to summer! You’ve been planning for it, and now it’s here—time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of your garden. With gas prices inching higher and budgets tightened, you might be taking advantage of the new concept that came around this time last year—the “staycation,” a vacation spent at home. So, what are some plants you can enjoy planting this time of year? Let’s try perennials!
First, many people confuse the terms “annual” and “perennial,” and rightly so; the words seem strangely mixed up when you initially think about it. All confusion aside, annuals die at the end of summer or sometime in autumn—you need to plant them annually. Perennials, however, come back year after year, and though most of them die back to the ground in autumn, they will be some of the first life you see in the spring as they poke up through the soil.
In recent years, perennials have become increasingly popular. Many varieties have beautiful foliage or striking flowers and if you don’t feel like planting as many annuals each year, mixing some perennials into your flowerbeds is a great option.
For starters, one perennial that most gardeners are familiar with is the hosta. You’ve seen them in shade gardens or along the north side of a neighbor’s house. With their large leaves in shades of blue, green, white or yellow, hostas can brighten up a dull or dark place or add a new texture to a garden.
Astilbe is another shade-loving perennial and a great compliment to hostas. Generally, hostas have wide leaves with a flower that’s little to look at. Astilbe, on the other hand, has fine, lacy leaves and beautiful, showy plumes of flowers in early summer. Most commonly found in shades of pink, purple, red and white, astilbe blossoms are sure to catch the eye.
While hostas and astilbe are both shade-loving, you’ll often find them used in sunny locations as well. At our latitude, the sun is never direct enough to do more than cause a minor burn to the foliage. Keep the plants well-watered and you’ll find that you can use them just about anywhere! If you have questions, ask a nursery professional for advice.
For sunny locations, one perennial that many gardeners love is lavender. Available in shades of purple and white, lavender adds color, texture and a terrific fragrance to the garden. Another popular and colorful perennial is coreopsis; its bright red, orange, yellow or pink flowers are sure to brighten up a flowerbed. And of course, don’t forget daylilies—with hundreds of varieties to choose from, there’s surely one to suit your taste!
To be fair to perennial lovers, I’ve barely touched the surface of the world of perennial plants. Quite literally, there are thousands of varieties of perennials. Check your local independent nursery for other varieties of perennials not discussed here or to find out more information on the types I’ve mentioned.
Now, maybe you don’t feel like planting anything during your “staycation” this summer. That’s fine. However, please do one thing: take some pictures! If you like the way a particular hanging basket looks, snap a photo so you know what to pick out next year. Maybe you have a hole to fill in your garden—print a picture and bring it to your local nursery when you decide to start planting this fall or next spring. Digital pictures are free to take, cheap to print, and invaluable when it comes time to remember what you loved about your yard. Now, pour a glass of lemonade and go enjoy your garden!