Tried and True
We’d like to draw your attention to some older varieties that have withstood the test of time, and are stalwart performers in the garden. Certainly everyone loves to choose their favorite “new and exciting” variety from the season’s offerings, but often plants of great merit go unrecognized and unheralded. Here we hope to show off a few of the “oldies-but-goodies”– plants that you can count on year after year. The classics never go out of style!
Liatris ‘Kobold’ – Kobold Gayfeather or Blazingstar
non-gardeners will recognize this flower, as it often appears in
cut-flower bouquets. In addition to its use in the vase, ‘Kobold’ is
a perennial that has withstood the test of time. Introduced to
horticulture decades ago, its genealogy includes the native North
American wildflower, Liatris spicata. It is an easy-to-grow
perennial, thriving in full sun and well-drained soil, and is a
favorite of butterflies. It blends well in the garden with daylilies
and other midsummer bloomers, growing 18-24” tall in full sun.
Photos from: Walters Gardens
Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Apache’
Photo from: Walters Gardens
Epimedium ‘Lilafee’ – Lilac Fairy Barrenwort
Members of the genus Epimedium are regarded as
some of the best perennials for shaded or woodland gardens. They are
often considered groundcovers by merit of their dense, fibrous root
masses and spreading habit. Barrenworts are recommended for dry
shade, one of the most vexing problems a shade gardener encounters.
Due to their drought tolerance and mat-forming roots, Barrenworts
compete well with the roots of trees and shrubs. ‘Lilafee’ is a
lovely selection whose name translates from German to ‘Lilac Fairy’.
The name perfectly describes the delicate flowers, which appear in
advance of the foliage, in April and early May. ‘Lilafee’ is a dwarf
variety, growing 8” tall.
Photo from: Missouri Botanical Garden
Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s Beard
This plant is an outstanding choice for the
partially shaded garden. It looks like a giant white Astilbe: the
large plumes can rise 4 to 5 ft on a well-grown plant! Although
often recommended as a perennial for shade, we have found that it
performs best when it receives at least a few hours of sun per day.
Morning sun is ideal. This tall species of Goat’s Beard (there are
dwarf varieties too) needs ample room to develop into the
spectacular specimen that it can be. Slow-growing in its first year,
your patience will be rewarded when the plant matures. Provide
moisture during dry spells, and fertilize yearly.
Photo from: Walters Gardens
Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’
We believe that the Bigroot Geranium is one of
the unsung heroes in the landscape. It has large felt-textured
scalloped leaves and a creeping rhizomatous growth habit that make
it one of the best groundcover perennials, growing equally well in
sun or light shade. It’s a tough plant that rarely needs watering or
fertilizing, making it nearly maintenance free. It is also
deer-resistant and we have never noticed any insect or disease
problems. The foliage has a pleasant sweet herbal scent, and may
develop red-orange fall color, particularly in sunny locations. We
like ‘Bevan’s Variety’ because its magenta flowers are brighter than
others in this species. Grows about a foot tall.
Photo from: e.Commons@cornell