Award-Winning Perennials Part II

Perennials of the year 2000-2005

2000 Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’

This long blooming “pincushion” flower will make a great addition to the front border of your garden. The small but profuse flowers will start appearing in early to mid summer assn continue in to late mid fall. Dead-head (remove faded flowers) to promote more blooms. The mounded shape with its soft textured leaves makes for a nice mixed container plant or it can be planted close together for a larger, massed effect. Also makes a nice rock garden plant. Grows to 12″ x 12″, likes full sun.


Grass, Calamagrostis Karl Foerster

2001 Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
This upright grass plant seems to becoming used more and more every year.The long bloom period (mid summer through fall) make it a great accent plant or background plant. The Light brown spikes stay on all winter, making it great for winter interest. I like to cut the spikes and use them in fall arrangements. Best in full sun, but will take some morning shade, and is drought tolerant. Makes a nice container plant, too



2002 Phlox “David’Phlox, David
This white flowered phlox makes a great mid-size addition to any flower garden. The white flowers give your garden more color longer in the day, because the white flowers reflect more light in the evening. Plant it next to your garden path or entry, so you can smell the fragrant flowers. It is powdery milder resistant, which is important for a phlox. Make sure you enjoy it inside, too, as it makes a great cut flower. Easy to grow, gets to about 30″, likes full sun. Easy to divide and give to your friends!


leucbecky 03.jpg

2003 LeucanthemumBecky’ Shasta Daisy
One of the easiest perennials to grow, the shasta daisy has been around forever.Grows in about any soil and tolerates the summer heat. Has a long bloom period, from midsummer to early fall. Likes full sun, but will tolerant some shade. May require staking if grown in partial shade. Grows to 36″ hi x 18″ wide. A can’t-miss perennial.




2004 Athyrium ‘Pictum’ Japanese Painted FernFern, Japanese Painted

An easy fern to grow as long as it has a well drained soil to grow in. Grows in partial to full shade, but doesn’t like competition from tree roots. Has a more compact growth habit than other ferns. . The fronds are two toned with grey green and silver/pewter. A great accent due to its unusual coloring and compact growth habit. Also looks nice as a rock garden plant. Grows to 18″ X18″.



Helleborus, Royal Heritage

2005 Helleboros (Lenton Rose)
Helleboros contains many varieties, accompanied by just as many colors. This is a great plant for full to partial shade. This is one of the earliest bloomers, blooming in early spring, as early as April and early May. It is tolerant of normal soil but likes it to be well drained. Normal size is usually about 18″ x 18″. Makes a good specimen or can be used as a woodland plant.














Award -Winning Perennials, part I

Each year, the Perennial Plant Association picks a perennial plant that it feels has the outstanding qualities to be voted Perennial Plant of the Year.  With the global warming, Northfield is on the border between zones 4 and 5, depending on who’s zone map you are looking at. (I like the one put out by the National Arbor Day Foundation, because it uses the most recent data). If  listed as zone 5, I would recommend you start out with a trial plant to see how it performs over a couple of winters. The descriptions below are from the Perennial Plant Association. Next week I will post some of the previous winners, back to 2000.


2011 Amsonia Hubrichtii Plants thrive in full sun to partial shade  This plant performs best in average, moist well-drained soil but tolerates less moisture. Once established, it can tolerate drier conditions.  This perennial for the seasons is an asset in borders, native gardens, cottage gardens, or open woodland areas. It is best when massed. Arkansas blue star is attractive when mixed with ornamental grasses and plants that have attractive seed heads. Light blue flowers in spring are followed by marvelous foliage in summer. Golden-yellow fall color is second to none among herbaceous perennials. Zones 4 to 9



2010   Baptisia Australis. Plants thrive in full sun. Plants grown in partial shade may require staking.SoilThis North American native is easily grown in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after establishment.   This spring flowering shrub-like perennial may be used to fill the back of the border or in the wild garden. The combination of flower and leaf color is dramatic in the early blooming season. Flowers are followed by inflated seed pods that are useful for dried flower arrangements. HardinessUSDA zones 3-9

2009   Hakonecloa macra Aurea Long-season ornamental grass may be used as a ground cover, a border-front specimen,a mass planting, or in a patio container. The plant offers vivid highlights in shaded areas or in evening gardens.  This grass is also noted for its movement in breezes, offering a cascading or an undulating behavior. Hardiness USDA zones 5-9.  Partial shade is the optimum location in hot climates while more sun is suitable in cooler areas. This ornamental grass prefers moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil.


img[1].jpg2008   “Rozanne” geranium. It has 2 ½ inch, iridescent violet-blue, saucer-shaped flowers with purple-violet veins and radiant white centers. Bloom time is from late spring to mid fall.  20 to 24 inches tall and  28 inches wide.   Best in full sun to partial shade, afternoon shade is advisable in hot climates.  Prefers moist, well-drained soil.   May be used as a dynamic ground cover or as an attractive specimen plant. It is a good companion plant to Shasta daisy, perennial salvia, speedwell, hostas, and short ornamental grasses. Rozanne’senergetic habit makes it a worthy tenant of patio containers, window boxes,and hanging baskets.   The large violet-blue flowers with purple-violet veins and small white centers offer non-stop flowering through the growing season. It has one of the longest flowering periods of any of the hardy geraniums.


2007 Nepata, Walker’s LowNepeta, Walker's Low One of the tougher perennials you will find. Your cats will love this one, as Nepata is also a variety of catmint. Likes full sun tolerates a wide range of soils, and is drought tolerant. Will bloom most of the summer, especially if it gets cut back after it’s first flush of flowers. Grows to about 30″ (not really low unless you compare it to other catmints), attracts butterflies, very fragrant leaves and stems when crushed.


dianthus 06.jpg2006 Dianthus, Firewitch. A great rock garden or edging plant it that is easy to grow. It likes a well drained site in full sun. Tolerant of dry situations once established. An early to mid summer bloomer. Grows to 8″ x 15″ Gray-green foliage makes a nice contrast to the bright pink flowers. Makes quite a show when planted as a mass.

Building a Butterfly Garden Part II

There are two types if plants that attract butterflies. They are 1) a nectar source for the butterfly, and 2) a food source for the larvae to feed on. The more you have of each, the better your chances are of attracting a wide variety of butterflies to your garden. You should also include a variety butterfly6[1].jpgof plants that have different bloom periods to extend the season of bloom. Butterflies in general like plants that have large or flat flower clusters. Remember not to use insecticides on your garden! (For obvious reasons) Photo at left: Monarch an a Yarrow plant

Tip: Try keeping a butterfly journal. Keep a record of what kinds of butterflies visit your garden, and their favorite plants. Which flowers attract the most variety of butterflies? What time of day do most of them come to your garden? This would make a great 4 H project!


Shrubs Viburnum, Chokeberry, Lilac, Spirea, Butterfly bush, Spirea, Mock orange, Red leafed cherry, Potentilla (yellow), Weigela

Annuals Ageratum, Nasturtium, Salvia, Petunia, Snapdragon, Alyssum.

Perennials (some of my favorites, there are more): Columbine (below right), Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Liatris, Joe-Pye weed, Milkweed (below left), Sedum (tall varieties), Shasta daisy, Yarrow, Fall-blooming butterfly1[1].jpgAster, Butterfly weed, Daylily, Scabiosa.

Click here to view part I of this post


Building a Butterfly Garden

Building a Butterfly Garden: First Things First!

Along with the increased interest in the use of native plants for landscaping, butterfly watching has come right alongside it and has become a popular pastime. By choosing the right plants, anyone can create a butterfly garden, whether it be in a space as small as an apartment window box or a large garden that will attract a wide variety of butterflies. (Among other friendly creatures!)

Before planting the garden it is best to educate yourself about the life cycle of the butterfly, the conditions it likes best, the food that it likes and the best location for your garden.

Life cycle Butterflies go through 3 life stages (egg, caterpillar, and cocoon) before they reach the 4th, or adult stage. monarc1[1].jpg Eggs are usually laid on the host ( food source) plant and will hatch in as little as a few days or as long as 2-3 weeks. The larvae (see Monarch larvae at left) hatches out of the egg and begins to feed on the host plant. The larvae (caterpillar) will continue to feed on the host plant, shedding its skin as it grows to full size. When full size is reached, it begins to pupate, or form a cocoon. It may hang by what appears to be a small thread, or it can attach itself to a small branch or leaf.monarch_pupa[1].jpg

Location It is best to select a sunny location with well drained soil that will support a variety of plants. It also gives an opportunity for the butterflies to sun themselves. Try to keep it out of the wind. Find some large stones or a flat-shaped fieldstone boulder (you may need help getting it there!) that will provide a good basking spot, and will also hold heat when it starts to cool down later in the day. If you can, provide a water source for them. Something as simple as moist earth or a mud puddle works great. You can buy a piece of drip irrigation line and attach it to your hose to keep the ground moist with a slow dripping action.


Look for our next post to see a list of the plants you can use to create a your own butterfly garden!

Home Remedies: Keep those pesky rabbits and squirrels out of your garden

An appetizer before lunch

October: You’ve done your research, picked out just the right varieties  with the proper heights and colors and now you’re heading home with 350 tulip bulbs, a big sack of bone meal, a couple of bales of peat moss and a brand new bulb planter.  You’ve already taken a whole day to till up the garden.   Now it’s time to mix in just the right amount of bone meal  and peat moss and plant the bulbs with your awesome new bulb planter.

April: The the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived. All that hard work is about to pay off. Your new bulbs are just starting to send up new sprouts. A day later you look out of the window to see how they are doing, and a rabbit is munching on the last bite of the last leaf of the last tulip!

There is nothing more disheartening than seeing your young newly planted flower bulbs (or flowers or garden vegetables) being gnawed and chewed to bits by the fury neighborhood felons.  Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” that will stop these hoodlums from ever again munching on one of your plants. Live traps can help if the pest population isn’t too high. Fencing will work, but doggone it anyway, you didn’t plant those bulbs to hide behind some ugly chicken wire fence.

Marigold Muncher

Commercial repellents are available, but they can get awfully spendy if you have a large area to control. But if you are a do-it-yourselfer and want to save some money, try making your own “home brew”. There are several recipes, and all of the ingredients are readily available at your local grocery store.

The  most common ingredient  in all of them is cayenne pepper (on commercial products it may be listed as capsaicin).  Many recipes call for hot spices,  jalapeno peppers, Tabasco sauce, even onions. Wear gloves when preparing any recipe that contains these ingredients, and do not touch your face.

Control of pests needs to be part of a plan that you stay on top of all season. You will need to monitor the population and reapply as needed. If you apply it and see a couple of rabbits in your garden a week or two later, reapply it. Make a stronger batch if you need to. Always re-apply after it rains.

Here’s a recipe I found on the Internet:

Things you’ll need:

  • Sauce pan (1 ½ to 2 qt.), Cutting Board,  Knife,  Onion,  2 Fresh jalapeno peppers,  1 tbsp. paprika,  1 tbsp. cayenne pepper,  Mixing bowl,  Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer,  Spray bottle,  Funnel (optional)
  • 1  Put the saucepan on the stove top and fill it ½ to ¾ full with water. Turn on the burner to start heating it.
  • 2  Peel and chop the onion into very small pieces on the cutting board,  while the water is heating. Cut up the two fresh jalapeno peppers into small pieces. Put the chopped onion and chopped jalapeno peppers into the heating pot of water.
  • 3  Add 1 tbps. of paprika and 1 tbps. of Cayenne pepper into the water with the chopped onions and chopped jalapeno peppers.
  • 4  Stir the mixture up . Then let the water reach boiling point. Reduce heat to simmer and let the mixture  simmer for 15 to 25 minutes.   Then turn off the burner and let the mixture cool.
  • 5  Get the bowl and cheesecloth.  Once the water, onions, peppers and spices have cooled, pour the mixture through the cheesecloth into the bowl. Now you will have a colored liquid with little or no residue from the produce and spices in it.
  • 6  Pour the strained liquid into the spray bottle either with a funnel or by hand.
  • 7  Spray the homemade squirrel repellent all over the plant. As an added deterrent you can sprinkle some of the Cayenne pepper and paprika  around the base of the plant. You should spray the plants about once a week, especially in rainy weather.