January 1, 2011

Garden Plants: Best Performance in 2010

Best Perennial in a Leading Role
Agastache 'Cotton Candy'

Agastache 'Cotton Candy' never stopped blooming from April until frost. Gotta love it! Healthy and robust, I tried pinching it back, cutting it back and leaving it alone. No matter what I did, this agastache was happy all through the first growing season in my garden. Ignored by deer and rabbits, agastache is loved by bees and butterflies. This variety survived more than 90 days of 90 degree temperatures with little water!

Agastache 'Cotton Candy' from Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.


Best Perennial in a Supporting Role
Creeping Perennial Heliotrope 'Azure Skies'

Once again, heliotropium amplexicaule 'Azure Skies' from the Southern Living® Collection is the best ground-covering perennial that never stops blooming, rewarding you with Six Months of Bloom from One Perennial. The growth habit is low and it quickly covers several feet of ground. Cut it back to keep it from getting leggy, or let it grow, let it grow! 'Azure Skies' thrives in drought and is hated by deer and rabbits.

Heliotropium amplexicaule 'Azure Skies'
blooms for six months


Best Makeup
Leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights'

From pale yellow to white blooms on the same plant, the shasta daisy 'Broadway Lights' provides soft lighting along the garden path. Evergreen foliage (in my zone 7b) and ignored by deer and rabbits throughout the bloom season, this is a perennial worth growing. The short stature and straight stems make this perennial a great edger.

The blooms change colors on
Leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights'


Best Costume
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'

The hummingbird favorite, salvia 'Black & Blue' is dressed in the perfect blue that works with almost all other color combinations. Plant it with yellow, pink, white, red and even orange—the deep blue blooms are the perfect color companion. Resistant for those with deer (some nibbles) and rabbits, this long-blooming tender perennial is worth planting as an annual if it doesn't winter over for you.

The versatile deep blue of salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
works with almost any other bloom color.


Best Visual Effects
Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Blue'

Although nigella (love-in-a-mist) is an annual in most zones, this prolific self-sowing plant will return if you let it go to seed. The unusual blooms are almost out-of-this-world and they bloom for weeks and weeks. Then, the seedpods are decorative until they dry and burst open to sow the seeds. Plant almost anytime the ground isn't frozen in early spring through fall. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Sow nigella from seeds.


Best Foreign Perennial
iris ensata (Japanese iris), iris siberica (Siberian iris), and iris x Hollandica (Dutch iris)

The gorgeous blooms of iris are a "must" for my garden and I use Japanese, Siberian and Dutch for blooms from April through June. The foliage of the Japanese and Siberian iris also provide structure even when the there are no blooms. Deer will nibble the open blooms, so if you have a lot of traffic, cut the irises to use for flower arrangements. These perennials make it through the summer drought and can be divided in fall and transplanted. They are fine through winter wetness and I grow them in a rain garden and dry stream.

Delicate bloom on a tough plant.

Best Script
container garden of succulent plants

The summer of 2010 brought 90 days of temperatures over 90 degrees. I was very glad that I planted several containers based on plants, such as sempervivum, that require very little water. This succulent container looked great throughout the summer and is now over-wintering on my covered front porch where the plants receive morning sun and are protected from north and west winds.


Low-maintenance and water-wise succulent container garden.

Best Sound Effects
Joe Pye Weed 'Little Joe'

The best buzz in the garden was around the Joe Pye Weed 'Little Joe'. The butterflies and bees were drawn to the beautiful blooms. The deer and rabbits left the perennial alone and the height is a manageable four feet. I will not be without this perennial for the butterfly garden. It is a great companion for ironweed and milkweed.

Joe Pye Weed 'Little Joe' created a buzz in the garden!

Best Short Subject
Cranesbill geranium 'Rozanne'

In the third year, she leaped! My perennial geranium 'Rozanne' was quite the performer, blooming at the feet of my roses among salvias and coneflowers. Although I have to protect her from both deer and rabbits, Rozanne has earned a permanent place in my cottage garden. With a bit of trimming to keep her shape, the blooms continued throughout the summer.

Geranium 'Rozanne' is a great edging perennial.

Best Cinematography
A random mix of annuals and perennials

My "meadow madness"  proved to be a rewarding experiment. I have sown annual seeds, again at random—in colors of blue, purple, pink and white to attempt to repeat the scheme for spring 2011. Larkspur, cornflowers, agastache, poppies, verbena and rose campion are the major players for the meadow mix.

My "meadow mix" is a random sowing of
annuals to provide color among perennials that bloom later.


Check out the best performers from previous years in my zone 7b, North Carolina garden:

Best Performance in 2009
Best Performance in 2008

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

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