Perennial Garden Plants

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Perennial garden plants are nothing if not versatile. From the seven-foot climbing Clematis Jackman to the four-inch creeping Phlox Emerald Blue, from the shade-loving Hosta August Moon to the Yarrow Moonshine, perennials include a wide variety of bloom colors and leaf forms and growth types. Some thrive in full shade only, many bridge the gap, and others--the asters and clematis and thyme--fare well only in plenty of full sun.

Planning with Perennial Garden Plants

The first question about a perennial should be whether it blooms. The second should be when it blooms. If it doesn't bloom, you'll be using it for its overall shape, foliage color and texture, and size. It if does, you'll be placing it in large part for the color of its flower. When the bloom comes and how long it lasts will be the deciding factor in how you work it into your design.

Let's say, for example, that the perennial garden plants in this design will run along the white brick wall of a house. You want an undulating line of varying flower heights--nothing precise, instead a cottage informality. You want a strong sweep of color from July through September. Yellows, golds, and scarlets are especially dramatic against white. Black-eyed Susans are one possibility, daylilies another, fernleaf yarrow a third.

If you had a red brick wall, you might want lemon yellow, off-white, and pale blue flowers. You might be designing shade gardens of hosta and azalea and periwinkle, where your bloom would come in April or May, and the rest of the year a subtle play of greens. The more you read and the more varieties you encounter, the more possibilities for perennial garden plants you'll envision.

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