I still remember living in a new development area and wishing to have just a few perennial favorites in our northern garden. In my wildest dreams I would not have thought we would ever have so many beautiful perennial flowers that come back year after year to delight us! The pictures in this post do not do justice to everything that is blooming, but it gives you an idea. Enjoy!
Growing perennial flowers in a garden
There are many good reasons to grow a perennial flower garden. With a little love and care you can enjoy an abundance of flowers all season long.
Flowers are not just pretty to look at, they can really help to improve the way we grow our fruits and vegetables. Growing a variety of flowers in or near the vegetable garden can enhance the beauty and productivity of the garden.
Perennials tend to be much earlier than annuals. To see their little heads pop up under the snow is priceless.
Perennials are planted once, and enjoyed for many years. Our garden already had a huge collection of perennial flowers when we bought the house. What a great way to enhance any landscaping for many years to come!
Flowers attract beneficial insects and hummingbirds. Even though our vegetable garden has the first priority, I can’t imagine our garden without all those flowers, and the bees like them, too.
Caring for perennial favorites
Perennials do need care too, but not as much as annuals. There is no ‘one fits all’ approach to caring for perennials. Some need full sun while others like it shady, some need lots of water while others like it dry. To have a good book with all the perennials you have is very helpful. You can look up the one that you grow and needs some care and find exactly what it needs and what to do. The book I use is Perennials Favorites by Lois Hole. She lists 100 of her favorite perennial plants, chosen for their beauty and hardiness. The late Lois Hole has left us a real treasure in this practical book. A lot of her favorites are also growing in our garden. I marked them all for easy finding and for learning what we have growing. Honestly, I’m still learning the names of many of them. Anyone knows the name of those I’m missing?
Even if the plants are hardy make sure they are covered in snow during hard winter frost. If you can’t assure a snow cover, mulch them heavily with leaves in the fall to avoid winter kill.
Most perennials need to be divided, some every 3 years, others will be fine up to 5 years and some can be left alone for 10 or more years. Dividing perennials will rejuvenate them and also give you more beautiful perennial to plant elsewhere.
Whenever you see a plant that is overcrowded and or has a weak center it’s time to divide it. If you wait longer the plant will stop blooming and actually becomes smaller in size because some of the overgrown plant will die.
Spring is the best time to divide most perennial plants. Wait till the ground is not frozen any longer and the plant has about 1-2 inches of new growth. Lift out the entire plant and then divide it into 2-3 pieces (discard the died back center). Make sure each piece has a growing point (if it is a large plant leave at least 3 stems) and lots of roots.
Depending on the size of the plant you can divide them with your hands by puling the plant apart, or cut with a knife or even with a shovel. Whatever you do try to work gentle, you do not want to kill the plant, just to divide it.
Plant one piece back into the original hole by adding some compost or potting soil. A handful of bone meal fertilizer can be helpful too. Also you want to plant perennials firmly into the soil. Treat that plant as a new plant for a while. It will need more water then a perennial plant usually does.
Keep your additional plants moist, till you find a new home for them.
It is a real joy month after month to see all those beautiful flowers and to enjoy them. I’m so grateful so many flowers do survive our cold winters here in zone 3.
First flowers in our garden usually pop up in March, telling us that spring is here. They may be a bit early and look weather beaten, but never the less, we welcome them very much.
After that, spring flowers just keep coming in all shapes and colours. By May our perennial flower garden is in full bloom. Blooming are: Elephant-ears, Primrose, Spurge, Pulmonaria, Tulips.
In June the colours just get brighter and the flowers get bigger. It might just be the best month for perennial flowers. Blooming are: Flax, Iris, Masterwort, Ornamental Onion, Painted Daisy, Peony, Pink, (Not in picture: Bleeding heart, Jakob’s Ladder, Sea Holly, St. John’s Wort, Yarrow.)
July continues the magic, butterflies and hummingbirds are making their rounds. It is a bliss for all. Blooming are: Campion, Clematis, Daylily, Delphinium, Lady’s Mantle, Lily, Meadowsweet, Poppy.
Meadowsweet needs a special mention, this is Queen-of-the-Prairie variety, one of the showiest perennials.
By August, annuals join the perennials in a harmony of colours, shapes, and beauty. Blooming are: Snowdrop anemones, Coneflower, Clematis, Daylily, Flax, Hollyhock, Hosta, Russian Sage.
Many flowers bloom all summer long till snow and frost ends their blooming in a bit of a brutal but neat way.
But still, until late October there is something blooming here for us. We love all the flowers and look forward to start the blooming year all over again. Blooming are: Italian asters violet and pink.
What is blooming in your garden? Do you also find books helpful for caring for all those flowers?