Best Perennials for Northern Gardeners

Today I dropped in on the Perennial Festival at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights. MSHS is participating in the event which includes several seminars each day, including one by horticulture editor, garden writer, and Bailey Nurseries production guru, Debbie Lonnee. After perusing the tables at Gertens, Debbie pulled out her 15 favorites among relatively new perennials. I didn’t get the full list down (though you can, if you go to Gertens Sunday at 11 when she will be making the same presentation) but here are a few that I remember — several of which are in my own garden.

  • Monarda ‘Coral Reef’ — Debbie named this plant, which was developed at the Morden Research station in Canada. That’s the same place the Morden roses were developed. This bee balm has a striking coral flower.
  • Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’ — I love this spring-blooming variegated Jacob’s ladder, too, and Debbie offered a good hint. This plant needs a decent amount of moisture to keep it looking good all summer.  I’ve got it in a sandy bed and need to add more humus to hang on to moisture.
  • ‘Lady in Red’ lady fern — For shade gardens, ferns add the perfect upright, feathery accent to hostas and heucheras. ‘Lady in Red’ is striking because the center stem in each fern leaf is a bright cherry red that stands out in the light of a shade garden.

Other plants she suggested were Geranium ‘Rozanne‘, Sedum ‘Maestro’ and lilies of all types. For more on great plants, check out Debbie’s talk tomorrow. Other talks will cover fruit growing (1 p.m.), shade gardening (2 p.m.), and rain gardens (3 p.m.).

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