Best Perennials for Northern Gardeners

Today I dropped in on the Perennial Festival at a local nursery. 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.

flowering jacob's ladder plants
Stairway to Heaven is a popular variety of Jacob’s ladder. The flowers are small but the variegated foliage is bright all season.

Debbie knows all about the new plants available and pulled out her 15 favorites among perennials introduced in the first 10 years of the 21st century. I didn’t get the full list down 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.
cluster of plants with pink flowers
Sedum Maestro has deep pink flowers early in the fal.

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.).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.