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Plants With Multi-Season Interest for Perennial Color

Plants With Multi-Season Interest for Perennial Color

As a garden designer, I’m always on the hunt for plants that can truly earn their keep. After all, our outdoor spaces are precious, and I want every selection to pull its weight with reliable, long-lasting performance. That means finding perennials that offer more than just a fleeting blossoming – I’m looking for plants that provide captivating color and interest from spring through fall, with minimal effort on my part.

Fortunately, there’s a bounty of perennial powerhouses that fit the bill. From vibrant blooms to stunning foliage, these multi-season superstars will transform your garden into a living, breathing work of art. So, let’s dive in and uncover some of my personal favorites that I’ve come to rely on time and time again.

Rozanne Geranium: A Tireless Bloomer

If I had to choose just one perennial to rule them all, the Rozanne geranium (Geranium ‘Gerwat’) would be a top contender. This hardy beauty starts strutting its stuff in late spring and continues its captivating floral display right through Thanksgiving, with no signs of slowing down. As I’ve learned from experience, Rozanne is a true workhorse, requiring virtually no deadheading or division to keep it performing at its best.

What I love most about this geranium is its versatility. It thrives equally well in full sun or dappled shade, and its sprawling, 4-foot-wide mounds can be used as a striking solo specimen or woven seamlessly into mixed borders. The periwinkle-blue blooms with a pure white eye are a delight, but the show doesn’t end there. As temperatures start to drop, Rozanne’s foliage takes on a lovely autumnal tint, adding another layer of seasonal interest.

But perhaps the best part? Rozanne is practically deer and rabbit-proof. I’ve found that while they may take a nibble or two early on, these critters quickly lose interest and move on to greener pastures. A quick spritz of repellent is usually all I need to get this resilient geranium off to a strong start.

Walkers Low Catmint: A Fragrant Frenzy

Another personal favorite of mine is the ever-dependable Walkers Low catmint (Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’). This modestly sized but prolific bloomer graces my gardens with its fragrant foliage and lavender-blue flowers from late spring well into fall. As I’ve discovered, Walkers Low is a true workhorse, shrugging off drought, deer, and even the occasional rabbit with ease.

What I love most about this versatile catmint is its ability to play nicely with others. I love pairing it with spring-flowering bulbs to create a layered effect, or using it to soften the edges of pathways and borders. And if I’m feeling a little lazy (which, let’s be honest, is most of the time), I can simply skip the mid-summer deadheading and let Walkers Low do its thing – it often rewards me with a second flush of blooms anyway.

Erigeron: Delicate Daisies with Staying Power

Speaking of low-maintenance perennials, the diminutive but mighty Erigeron k. ‘Profusion’ (Fleabane) is another must-have in my garden arsenal. This delicate-looking daisy may seem fragile, but as I’ve discovered, it’s actually quite tough as nails.

In my zone 6b garden, Erigeron k. ‘Profusion’ goes nearly dormant in the winter, only to burst forth in spring with a dainty, green cushion studded with cheerful white blooms. And the show just keeps going, with flowers appearing from spring until the first hard frost. Deer and rabbits tend to steer clear, but a quick spray of repellent is all it takes to give this tough little daisy a head start.

What I love most about Erigeron is its versatility. It makes a stunning groundcover, softening the edges of pathways and boulders with its delicate, carpet-forming habit. Or, you can simply tuck it into gaps between other perennials and shrubs for an ever-changing tapestry of color and texture.

Penstemon: Stalwart Spires of Color

I’ll admit, I haven’t always been a penstemon devotee. As I noted in my book Deer-Resistant Design, many of the penstemon varieties I’ve tried in the past have struggled to thrive in my challenging, clay-heavy soil. But that all changed when I discovered the standout performers like Midnight Masquerade and Dark Towers.

These penstemon powerhouses captivated me with their bold, eye-catching foliage and long-lasting blooms. Midnight Masquerade, with its rich burgundy leaves and lavender spires, has become a staple in my gardens, providing a striking contrast to surrounding plantings. And Dark Towers, with its soft white flowers against a backdrop of deep purple-black foliage, is equally stunning.

What I love most about these penstemon selections is their deer and rabbit resistance. I’ve never had an issue with critters nibbling on them, which is a huge relief in my garden. And unlike some of their more finicky cousins, Midnight Masquerade and Dark Towers have proven to be incredibly resilient, thriving even through our recent ice storm.

Gaillardia: Blazing Beauties for Sun-Soaked Gardens

If you’re looking to add some fiery, high-impact color to your garden, look no further than the captivating Gaillardia (Blanket Flower). As I discovered after photographing a stunning display in Portland, these bold, daisy-like blooms come in a range of vibrant hues, from the classic red and gold to the more subdued (but no less striking) Apricot Arizona.

What I love most about Gaillardia is its ability to light up the garden with minimal effort on my part. These sun-loving perennials thrive in well-drained soil, shrugging off drought and deer with equal ease. And while their bloom time may not match the marathon performance of a Rozanne geranium, Gaillardia more than makes up for it with its eye-catching, long-lasting color.

I also appreciate Gaillardia’s versatility. Whether you opt for the fiery red-and-gold of ‘Arizona Sun’ or the softer apricot tones of ‘Apricot Twist,’ these hardy beauties can be used to create stunning, drought-tolerant tapestries in full-sun borders and beds. And the fact that they’ll readily self-sow means I can easily spread the wealth around my gardens with minimal fuss.

Achillea: Muted Masterpieces for Lazy Gardeners

As a self-proclaimed “lazy gardener,” I have a deep appreciation for perennials that require minimal maintenance. And when it comes to low-effort, long-lasting color, the Achillea (Yarrow) cultivar ‘Paprika’ is truly in a league of its own.

Unlike some yarrow varieties that quickly fade to an unappealing grey, Paprika puts on a mesmerizing show, transitioning from rich scarlet-red to soft pink and creamy white before finally settling into those muted tones. And the best part? I don’t have to lift a finger – no deadheading required.

What I love most about Paprika is its ability to complement a wide range of other garden plants. I love pairing it with the golden foliage of Berberis ‘Golden Ruby’ and the silvery blue of Juniperus ‘Blue Star’ for a stunning, drought-tolerant tapestry. And the fact that it’s deer and rabbit resistant is the proverbial icing on the cake.

Echinacea: Timeless Classics with a Modern Twist

No discussion of must-have perennials would be complete without the humble, yet captivating, Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia). These sunny, daisy-like blooms have long been a staple in my gardens, and for good reason. As I’ve discovered, they’re virtually foolproof, thriving in full sun and well-drained soil with minimal effort on my part.

But while the classic Rudbeckia fulgida is always a welcome sight, I’ve also fallen head-over-heels for some of the more modern Echinacea (Coneflower) cultivars. The rich, burgundy foliage and vibrant blooms of varieties like ‘Sombrero Salsa Red’ and ‘Kismet Intense Orange’ have become staples in my gardens, adding a fresh, contemporary twist to this garden stalwart.

What I love most about these Echinacea selections is their ability to shine from midsummer through fall. Their sturdy, upright stems and long-lasting flowers make them ideal for cutting, while the spent seed heads provide valuable winter interest and food for local wildlife. And, of course, they’re deer and rabbit resistant, sparing me from the constant battle to protect my beloved blooms.

Siberian Bugloss: A Foliage Phenom

While I undoubtedly have a soft spot for showy, attention-grabbing flowers, I also believe that the true stars of the garden are often the unsung heroes of the foliage world. And when it comes to captivating, multi-season appeal, the Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) cultivar ‘Silver Heart’ is a true standout.

As I’ve discovered, the large, heart-shaped leaves of Silver Heart are a delight, providing a lush, silver-and-green tapestry that only gets better as the seasons progress. While the delicate, forget-me-not-like blooms may be short-lived, the foliage more than makes up for it, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to shaded borders and woodland-inspired plantings.

What I love most about Siberian Bugloss is its resilience. Unlike some other foliage plants that can succumb to disease, Silver Heart and its cousin ‘Sea Heart’ have proven to be remarkably resistant, thriving in my challenging, clay-heavy soil with minimal fuss. And the fact that deer and rabbits tend to steer clear is just the icing on the cake.

So, there you have it – my personal picks for the perennial powerhouses that will transform your garden into a living, breathing work of art. From the tireless, deer-resistant blooms of Rozanne geranium to the captivating foliage of Siberian Bugloss, these multi-season marvels are sure to keep your outdoor spaces looking their best, year after year. Happy planting!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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