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Hot new perennials

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The one good thing about spring’s very late arrival is the floral display we are going to be treated to. I’m expecting a plethora of flowers — tulips, allium, bleeding hearts, bachelor buttons, forsythia, rosyblooms — all flowering at nearly the same time. Small compensation, but compensation nonetheless!
With a start like that, you’ll want to keep the colour coming. Enter the perennials.
Many of us yearn to grow great swaths of lavender. Unfortunately, it is not fully hardy. A good alternative is Peek-a-Blue Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Peek-a-Blue’). Smaller than other Russian Sages, it puts out lots of purple for most of the summer, from July to October, and its foliage is silvery green. It prefers full sun, and well-drained soil. It’s also drought tolerant when established.
Amethyst in Snow Bachelor Button (Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow‘) is new to the Bachelor Button family. Like other members, it sports an eye-catching flower that manages to look both messy and intricate at the same time. Unlike others, it begins flowering in June and carries through to August. Another departure, the traditional blue colour is concentrated into the middle, and surrounded by white. Absolutely charming. It prefers full to partial sun, and average moisture.
Little Goldstar Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Little Goldstar’) is one of many smaller-sized plants that are new to the market this year. Little Goldstar is a welcome addition to this long-legged family. It forms a short, bushy clump, which means it won’t flop over or require staking. It’s only short on height; it produces the big golden-yellow flower characteristic of the family and retains it as long as the best of them. It prefers full to partial sun, and average soil moisture.
Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) has been around for a while, but as the Perennial of the Year (as named by the Perennial Plant Association), it is finally front and centre. Like many shade lovers, it isn’t about punch and pop. Its long, arching stems offer an understated elegance. You might grow it for the flowers, which are tiny, white, and hang like drop earrings from under the leaves. But if you want to add some reliable interesting texture to a shady spot, this is a great choice. It prefers partial to full shade, and moist well-drained soil. A couple words of caution, in a pinch the Red Lily Beetle will consume it, and the berries are highly poisonous.

Carla Keast has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and is a Winnipeg-based freelance landscape designer. She can be reached at contact@carlakeast.com.

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