Choosing and using perennials

Perennials vary widely in their tolerance for sun or shade, wet or dry conditions, cold or mild climate, and type of soil. They come in a wide range of sizes, too. They span the range of flowering periods from spring through fall,

ÂżJftBE/i and some varieties even bloom in fairly cold winters. If you live in a mild Mediterranean or other semitropical climate, you can enjoy perennial flowers all year long.

Perennials demand little and live a long time; that's why they're a welcome element in the sustainable landscape.

When selecting perennials, avoid Saturday Morning Syndrome: choosing plants impulsively because they're looking all cute at the nursery. Instead, take the time to make a plan before you head out. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Decide on a color scheme.
  • Research climate-adapted varieties that will work in your location.
  • Make a wish list and then choose the most compatible plants from that list, making sure they have the same growing requirements and look good together.
  • Repeat varieties throughout your planting so you don't get the one-of-each look. Include six to ten varieties in any given area, using at least three plants of each variety.
  • Mix varieties that have compatible foliage colors and textures.
  • Consider the overall form of the plants: mounding, spiky, and so on, and combine forms that look good together.
  • Mix plants that have different seasons of bloom.
  • Vary the height and width of the plants you choose.

Look in a gardening encyclopedia for lists of perennials that are suited to your region. Such lists show plants by color, season of bloom, soil or light requirements, and other characteristics. Comb the lists for things that appeal to you, cross-checking to be sure that your candidate plants meet all your requirements. Then take your list to a local nursery to check availability, discuss possible combinations with nursery staff, and see the plants. Observe mature specimens in actual gardens if possible.

Mail-order nurseries offer unusual perennials. The plants often cost more than what you'd find locally, but it may be the only way to obtain hard-to-find species that you'll never run across at the local chain store.

After you've picked out your plants and made a plan, you're ready to put 'em in place. Keep in mind that most perennials are best planted in the fall. This matches their natural growth cycle, reduces the amount of water needed to get them established, and improves their chances for survival. Follow the standard planting instructions in Chapter 16.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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