Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Step By Step Perennial Gardens
One question frequently received here is, "Which perennials will do best in my yard?" Perennials are usually non-woody plants which either retain their form or come back year after year. They are a beautiful, easy-maintenance addition to anyone's landscape. An excellent reference to help you pick the good performers for our area is the book,
by Jeff Cox. A sampling of his 150 top picks include: 'Coronation Gold' yarrow, 'Snow Lady' Shasta daisy, 'Moonbeam' threadleaf coreopsis, 'Happy Returns' daylily, 'Lord Baltimore' hibiscus, Russian sage, 'Autumn Joy' sedum (pictured, left), 'Homestead Purple' verbena, 'Barnsley' tree mallow (pictured, below) and the 'Husker Red' foxglove penstemon.
And this time of year, there are plenty of perennials available. But before you head to the nursery or plant sale, take some steps to insure that those future landscape luminaries will have a good home:
1. Plan before you plant. Does the area for the perennials have full sun, part sun or full shade? Is a water source nearby? Does the background for the perennial garden look appealing, or does that need work, too?
2. Know your soil. Do a simple pH test to find out if your current soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. Consider plants with similar pH requirements. Then, amend your soil (after you clear out the weeds) with compost. Adding one cubic yard per 300 square feet should do the trick.
3. Create pathways for your garden. Build walkways out of gravel, bark or remnants from the chipper/shredder. Making them three feet wide and four inches deep will provide you easy access with wheelbarrows for weeding the garden.
4. Choose your plants locally. Visit neighbors who have thriving perennials or visit a nursery with full grown specimens, such as Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth, California, to give you an idea of these plants' eventual size. Check out Sunset's "Western Landscaping Book" or the magazine, "Fine Gardening" for more plant suggestions, arranging ideas and planting tips. Be sure to group together plants with similar watering requirements.
Get some inexpensive plant markers and write down the names of the plants; additionally, keep a map and a list of what you planted. Those outdoor labels tend to get buried in the plant over time.