My Top Perennials
My number one choice are the magnificent rudbeckias. The most well-known variety, R. ‘Goldsturm’, is the standard bearer that will bloom until late September. A newer variety I really enjoy is R. ‘Early Bird Gold’. It blooms about ten days earlier and carries on until the end of the season. A shorter version, R. ‘Little Gold Star’, has smaller blooms and is quite at home in containers and smaller spaces. These are summer and fall showstoppers that no sunny garden should be without.
Coreopsis has to be number two on my list, especially with many of the new varieties. The best two for long and continuous blooms are the lacy foliaged, short, and yellow C. ‘Zagreb’, and the slightly taller, creamy yellow C. ‘Moonbeam’. Both are simply amazing in terms of colour, all-weather tolerance, and continuous performance until October. Some interesting reds, like C. ‘Red Satin’ and C. ‘Cruizin Main Street’, have been more recently introduced. They match the yellows for adding new richness to our summer and fall gardens.
Echinaceas are just now beginning to bloom, and today’s wide range of colours are outstanding. I especially love the ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ series, with its vibrant golds, yellows, oranges and reds.
No other perennial geraniums perform like the famous ‘Rozanne’. It has a low-spreading habit and can be kept more compact with a little pruning. This blue-flowered jewel blooms from June right until the fall weather runs out. Blue is a hard colour to find in gardens, so that’s another bonus.
Sedums are another mainstay. Their strong, upright blooms come in a wide range of colours, but the old-fashioned, pink S. ‘Autumn Joy’ is still pretty amazing. New varieties have lime, yellow, or rose-coloured flowers and have a range of interesting foliages, from black and burgundy to a nice pink-grey. The new, low-growing ‘Sparkler’ series has stunning foliage. Being succulent-like, their drought resistance is outstanding, making them welcome summer companions.
Achillea is the sleeper of all perennials. The new ‘Seduction’ series is great because it’s basil-branching and a repeat bloomer for continuous summer and fall colour. I’m a big fan of ‘Strawberry Seduction’ for its beautiful red blooms that add not only colour, but also texture to any garden combination. It’s great used in containers too.
Remember the ‘red hot poker plants’? Well, they’ve not only had a name change to Kniphofia, but also a repeat-blooming change, as well. Their thin, spiky foliage looks amazing combined with grasses, and their blooms of yellow, white, orange, and bi-colours keep producing until fall. The ‘Popsicle’ series is one of the best, and wow, do they ever perform! Having quite a different look, they certainly earn gold stars all around.
Heleniums are the first, truly fall-coloured perennials with small red, orange and bi-colour flowers that herald late summer. There’s a new shorty called H. ‘Short Stuff’ that grows only 12 inches high and blooms a long time in places heleniums could not grow before. It’s a superstar!
Other superstars are the many varieties of agastaches, such as ‘Blue Boa‘, Summer Glow‘ and ‘Raspberry Summer’. All are favourites for bees. They need a little pruning to keep them in shape, but they bounce back within a few days with massive blooms.
I love the many varieties of Gaillardia because of their wide selection of desert colours: the yellows, oranges, reds, and bi-colours. The newer ‘Arizona’ series is more compact and thrives in both sun and drought. Its uniquely beautiful, large flowers, with serrated petals, look very desert-like. Left: Heleniums
Japanese Anemones – talk about fresh, new colours. Their many shades of pinks and whites are refreshingly cool-looking. They will tolerate the sun, but morning sun and afternoon shade is best for these perennials that bloom till November. Most varieties are taller, growing up to a half metre, but two new compact series, called ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Pocahontas’, grow about 30cm tall and are very prolific.