Everybody loves perennials. Plant them once and enjoy their flowers year after year. No re-planting, no buying again. They're a once and done project. The only problem for us (In USDA Hardiness Zone 6 or 5 if you live further from the city) is that there are so many choices! With proper planning, you can have plants blooming from the first warming rays of the spring sun all the way through cold late fall frosts.
Choosing The Right One
How do you choose just the right plant, when there are hundreds of species and varieties to choose from?
First off, shop at Fasel and Sons. No seriously. We carefully manage our perennial selections to only include varieties specific to our climate. You don't have to bother reading all the tags and look for their hardiness zone (and then google what zone we are because you forgot. Chicago is zone 6 by the way). Too often we hear people asking for certain plants that they saw at home depot labeled as "perennials" but are only perennials for zone 7 or 8. Those would make a great annual around here but they're not what you're after. So save yourself the time and hassle and shop for perennials with us.
Choose For The Seasons
To get your garden looking magazine-worthy, you want season long color. That means choosing plants that bloom in all seasons. Look for ones that bloom in spring, others in summer, and more in fall. This way you have flowers in your garden all season while remaining low maintenance.
For spring bloomers, look for plants like:
Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
Oriental Poppies (Papaver)
the old garden staple Peony (Paeonia)
Bee Balm (Monarda)
When your spring bloomers are finished flowering, cut off all dead flowers. Not only does this help clean up the garden, but it also promotes a re-bloom of the plants that can.
Summer blooming perennials are totally awesome. They give you color through the summer months right up into fall. Look For plants like:
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
Garden Sage (Salvia)
Blue Fescue (Festuca)
Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)
Maiden Grass (Miscanthus)
Reed Grass (Calamagrostis)
Welcome in Fall with some beautiful late season bloomers. Look for plants like:
Garden Mums (Chrysanthemum)
Russian Sage (Perovskia)
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
When the fall frosts come in, your perennials will start to die down. Don't worry, it's just their above ground growth that dies down at the end of the year. Everything below ground (the stuff that really matters) stays alive. When it warms up again next year, they're all ready to go!
A properly planned perennial garden will provide beauty for years to come. So do yourself a favor: plant it once, plant it right, and sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty. You deserve it!