A well-designed perennial garden can provide many years of beauty and enjoyment. Careful selection of plant materials and thoughtful planning can result in a full season of color. The list of possible perennial plants is long.
Choose plants for:
- light and water requirements
- bloom period
- flower color
Compile a chart, organizing this information in an easily viewed manner. Bloom times may vary with weather, soil conditions and elevation. At higher elevations, bloom times are later.
The most important consideration in selecting plants for a perennial garden is to group them according to their environmental and cultural requirements. For example, is the location sunny or shady. Choose plants accordingly. Another example, place drought-tolerant plants together at the top of a slope and moisture-loving plants in a swale or low spot where runoff collects. This is called hydrozoning.
Other plant characteristics to consider for easier maintenance include cold hardiness, heat tolerance, insect and disease resistance, cultural requirements (staking, pruning, fertilizing, deadheading, frequent division), and invasiveness.
Perennial plants differ from annuals not only in the fact that they are winter hardy and will come back each year, but in the fact that typically many perennials bloom during a portion of the season rather than all season long.
April and May are terrific months for planting perennials! The cool nights and bright days offer the newly transplanted plants a little time to relax, get situated in their new locale and begin growing new roots. Incorporate organic matter like Creek Side’s Natures Yield compost to the soil at planting time to help create a superior rooting environment. Keep watered thoroughly for the first few weeks so they don’t dry out.
Gardening in the Shade
Shade-loving plants require just 4 to 6 hours of light per day. In fact, too much sun may damage their foliage. For best results, grow them under the dappled light of shade trees, or in a spot that gets only morning or afternoon sun.
Most shade plants grow best in in soil amended with organic compost. This will help the soil retain some moisture throughout the growing season. Mulching around plants and along pathways helps to encourage these growing conditions. If possible, apply several inches of mulch.
Plants to consider for shade:
- Coral Bells
- Bleeding Hearts
- Lady’s Mantel
- Jacobs Ladder
Xeric/ Drought tolerant – once established
Consider removing your lawn and replanting with a selection of drought tolerant perennials and shrubs to save valuable water in our high plains desert climate. Plant Select, the collaboration between Colorado State University and the Denver Botanic Gardens is a great place to start. Plus consider:
- Russian Sage
- Hens & Chicks
- Snow in Summer
So, in addition to flower color and plant height, another dimension (fun) to designing a perennial flower bed is to incorporate plants that bloom during various times of the season i.e. early season, mid-season, late season.
Early Season Bloom
- Jupiter’s Beard
- Shasta Daisy
- Bee Balm
- Russian Sage
Late Season Bloom
- Black-Eyed Susan
- Ornamental Grasses
- Anenome – shade
- Eupatorium – shade
- Hosta – shade
Instead of fighting the deer population around your garden, utilize this list of deer resistant perennials to help naturally keep your garden safe.
- Achillea – Yarrow
- Agastache – Hyssop
- Penstomon – Beardtongue
- Monarda – Beebalm
- Geranium – Cranesbill
- Centranthus – Jupiters Beard
- Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower
- Nepeta – Catmint
- Potentilla – Cinquefoil
- Euonymous alatus – Burning Bush
- Berberis – Barberry
- Caryopteris – Blue Mist Spirea
- Gro- Low Sumac
- Apache Plume
- Perovskia – Russian Sage
Planting for Pollinators
Researchers have identified that perennial flowers tend to be far more attractive to bees than annuals. Many different types of perennials are good for bees, from showy flowers to herbs. Herb gardens are an excellent resource for bees because they flower over a long period of time, and herbs grow fairly large and produce lots of flowers. Consider adding pollinator plants in the garden that bloom at different times of the the year to provide pollen for the bees during most of the season. Herbaceous perennials attractive to bees available at Creek Side Gardens.
- Anise hyssop Agastache foeniculum
- Aster Aster novae-angliae – ‘Purple Dome’
- Astilbe, false spirea Astilbe spp.
- Bee balm Monarda spp.
- Bellflower Campanula spp.
- Black-eyed Susan, coneflower Rudbeckia spp.
- Blanket flower Gaillardia
- Blazing star Liatris spicata
- Butterfly bush Buddleja or Buddleia spp.
- Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa
- Catmint Nepeta spp.
- Chrysanthemum (open types) Chrysanthemum
- Chocolate flower Berlandiera lyrata
- Clematis Clematis spp.
- Common poppy, red poppy Papaver rhoeas
- Common yarrow Achillea millefolium
- Coral bells Heuchera spp.
- Cornflower Centaurea spp.
- Foxglove or beardtongues Penstemon spp.
- Garden speedwell Veronica longifolia
- Hardy geranium, blue cranesbill Geranium ibericum x (Geranium himalayense)
- Hosta Hosta spp. Hyssop (naturalized in North America)
- Lavender Lavandula
- Lupine Lupinus spp.
- Mints Mentha spp.
- New England aster Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
- Peony Paeonia spp.
- Pincushion flower Scabiosa caucasica
- Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea
- Russian sage Perovskia atriplicifolia
- Salvia Salvia ‘Victoria blue’,
- Sedum Sedum spp.
- Sedum, stonecrop Hylotelephium spectabile and telephium and cvs.
- Sneezeweed Helenium
- Sunflower Helianthus
Creek Side grows their perennial plants right on site in our own greenhouses. Each variety is carefully selected to perform in our Rocky Mountain growing climate. We get them off to a great start, then lower the temperatures in the greenhouse to help get each plant conditioned for making the transition to your garden. Right now the Creek Side Grown Fresh perennial crop is growing in a greenhouse with no heat, so our plants are nice and hardy!
This year, Creek Side is offering over 300 different varieties of perennials for you to choose from. Most are either available in a black 4.5” square pot that sells for $8.95 or a larger 6” round pot that sells for $13.95. Some premium varieties are priced a little higher. When choosing your perennials, don’t forget in addition to color and height, perennials typically only bloom for a portion of the growing season i.e. early season, mid-season and late season. So, part of the fun in designing a perennial garden is to weave together plants that will go into and out of bloom throughout the whole season. Visit the nursery every month of the growing season to get a firsthand look at what is blooming each month.