Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thinking Spring-Color in the Garden Part III: Perennials

The rains are coming down in the northeast and the daylilies are poking their heads up through the soil so it is time to talk about perennials.

When it comes to combining perennials, colors from opposite sides of the color wheel combine the best. My favorite combination is that of purple and yellow. The cool color of purple ‘Maynight ‘ Salvia or blue Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’ combine beautifully with the warm yellows of Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ and Daylilly ‘Stella D’Oro’and also go along with the yellow-orange color of Gaillardia 'Goblin'.  Combine purples and yellows along with the deep maroon color of Barberry ‘Royal Burgundy” and you have an array of color which one cannot resist.
Salvia 'Maynight'
Another favorite is heuchera or ‘Coral Bells’ which is known for its deep burgundy foliage throughout the season and dainty white flowers in Spring which closely resemble baby’s breath. There are many varieties of heuchera but the one which I find to be most hardy in the Northeast is Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ which tends to hold up better here with our severe winters. Heuchera goes beautifully along with coreopsis, salvia and nepeta as well as with grasses.
Coreopsis 'Zagreb'

Another suggestion for combining perennials with grasses would be the combination of Sedum ‘Brilliant’ with dwarf fountain grass, coreopsis and perhaps a weeping evergreen as a focal point. As far as sedum is concerned, there are also many varieties but I prefer the ‘Brilliant’ for its more vibrant pinkish color and shorter stature as compared to ‘Autumn Joy’-but it’s a matter of opinion. The ‘Autumn Joy’ or even the Spurium ‘Rose Glow’ would also complement grasses nicely in the garden.
Hosta 'Patriot'

If you prefer the woodland look or have shady conditions then the ole reliable hosta comes to mind. There are so many varieties of Hosta to choose from and it is virtually indestructible. Also if you separate them with a sharp spade in early spring they will re-grow quickly to form a perfectly circular shape as if they were never touched. One of my favorite varieties of hosta is ‘Patriot’. It’s deep green foliage edged with a creamy white border makes it a welcome guest to brighten up even the darkest of shade gardens. It does very well here in the Northeast and goes beautifully with variegated liriope, heuchera (coral bells) and astilbe. Other favorites are ‘Francee Williams’, ‘Blue Cadet’ and ‘Golden Tiarra’.
Gaillardia 'Goblin'

There are so many perennials to choose from for the garden.  I have tried to focus on varieties which are hardy in the Northeast and which are my all time favorites for long bloom time, abundant color and dependability. 
Heuchera 'Coral Bells'
After years of experience as a designer I find these to be the most reliable and have enjoyed them in my own gardens for years and will continue to enjoy them for years to come.  

In future articles I will focus more on the uses of combinations of perennials in the cottage garden as well as the incorporation of perennials along with evergreens and deciduous plants for everlasting beauty and enjoyment.  For a complete gallery of perennials mentioned in this post visit:  Perennials .

Happy gardening!

Author:Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved


  1. I haven't tried Hosta 'Patriot' yet. Maybe this will be the year I find one up here. Yeah, right....

    Christine in Alaska

  2. It is hardy in Zones 2-9. Keep looking! It is a wonderful plant!

  3. wonderful sight, really helped me with my garden

  4. Thanks for visiting Bob and glad you found the info helpful. Happy gardening!


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!