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Perennials bloom and blossom in the region

People tend to garden for many reasons: to enhance the beauty of their lot, to provide places to sit and relax, to provide a play place or places for children, and to grow food.

People tend to garden for many reasons: to enhance the beauty of their lot, to provide places to sit and relax, to provide a play place or places for children, and to grow food. 

All can be developed on any size of space, be it a large urban lot or a small balcony. Flowers and their seeds will attract butterflies and birds, the perfume of flowers attracts people.  A small water feature mutes the sound of traffic or even lawnmowers.  Trees and shrubs provide shade and screen for privacy.  And nature itself improves your health.

I read through 12 issues of Birds and Blooms and 50 issues of Gardener for the Prairie each of which showcased a beautiful garden.  Each started small and through trial and error developed their city lot or acreage over many years into a beautiful and productive garden.  Many were a clever integration of flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetables.  So, start small and use your imagination and year by year your garden will evolve into a work of beauty.

There are literally hundreds of perennials that thrive in Zone 3.  Many are drought resistant and thrive in our freezing winters. Some are sun loving, and some are shade loving.  Here are some suggestions on how to plan and place your perennials.

  1. Layer by putting tall plants at the back of a bed, medium height plants in the middle, and short ones at the edge.
  2. Place sun loving plants in a sunny area, and shade loving plants in a shady area. Sun loving plants include: alyssum, aster, bergamot, prairie crocus, three-flowering avens, blanket flower, wild blue flax, shooting star, lady slipper.  Shade loving plants include: begonias, bunchberry, twin flower, ferns, hostas, false Solomon’s seal, fuchsia, and pansies
  3. Group plants with similar water requirements together.  Some require little water such as fireweed, peony, iris, lilies, or sedum.  Others, hostas, pansies, ferns, marsh marigolds, or primroses need regular watering in dry times.
  4. Research blooming times and locate your plants so that one or more perennials are blooming in each area throughout the gardening year.  Early bloomers include: allium or ornamental onion, elephant ears, hollyhocks, pasque flower, phlox (creeping phlox), and lady slipper.  Mid Summer Bloomers include, coral bells, day lilies, delphiniums, euphorbia or spurge, fire weed, hostas, iris, joe pie weed, lilies, Maltese cross, peony, dianthus, speedwell and veronica.   Late Summer Bloomers include: cone flowers, black-eyed Suzan, goldenrod, aster, and monkshood.
  5. Plant several of the same flowers in a group.  How large should the groups be?  It depends on the amount of room you have.
  6. Remember that ground covers such as arctic phlox, sedum, creeping thyme, creeping jenny, or portulaca, are invasive.  They creep and tend to take over spaces already occupied by other perennials.  Be ready to clip or dig to cut them down to size.
  7. Do you want to attract bees, butterflies, moths, humming birds, and other insects?  If so, plant some high nectar plants such as columbine, clover, fireweed, honeysuckle, larkspur, poppy, and petunia.  Fruit trees such as cherry, plum or apple have beautiful masses of flowers in the early spring.  And poppies and forget-me-nots sprout from last year’s seeds and will soon overwhelm your flower garden. 
  8. Fill in the spaces with annual flowers or even vegetables.  Carrots combined with alyssum make an interesting border.  Multi-coloured chard is as attractive as a plant with attractive leaves such as coleus. Red lettuce is another.  Red cabbage provides a focal point in the middle of your perennial garden.  But, be prepared to fill in the space when the cabbage is pulled out.
  9. You can also include perennial vegetables such as rhubarb, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, or horse radish.

There are many more perennials for our Zone 3.  These are just a few suggestions to help you to plan your perennial garden.

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