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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Sisychrinum; a Subtle Beauty Perennial

The best way to tempt a gardener into buying a perennial, that he or she certainly does not need, is to display it in bloom during the spring buying season. That’s how this plant made its way into my garden, into the flower beds of my clients, and into my heart.

Have you heard about this plant? I didn’t think so! Miniature perennials with tiny flowers receive little publicity. One has to look hard to see them in the garden and even harder to find them at the nursery. So discreet are they that growers bulk them up with extra fertilizer in the hope that they will bloom impressively at retail so that shoppers will take notice.

Sisychrinum is a neat, tiny plant that grows in a spray-like bouquet. Its leaves and stems radiate from a center clump that doesn’t appear to grow very wide. Its miniature sword-like foliage resembles tiny fountains. When it blooms in early summer, the sun is not yet strong enough to fade the delicate-but-rich shade of violet-blue of its petals. This unusual color tone is accentuated by a sparkle of yellow in its center to enhance an already attractive flower.

I plant this beauty at the front of the border where it can be seen when strolling past the flower beds. Sadly, this is not a perennial that projects but I am certain that if I had the room to grow it in groves, then surely it would be noticed from far.

Unlike most perennials that are enhanced when grouped with others, I do not use this one in compositions. Its striking visual appearance allows it to take ownership of its spot in the garden so that it requires no other flowers around it. In spite of its diminutive dimensions, this perennial is a veritable specimen plant. It makes such a beautiful statement by itself that I am considering sprinkling several through out the garden beds, just as I did with Dicentra spectabilis.

This will be the third season that Sisychrinum will be growing in my garden. I cannot yet report if it is a perpetual perennial or if it will be short lived. No matter. If it dies after a few years, I will replace it with great pleasure because pleasure is what it has given me.

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Reader Comments (6)

Dear Allan, I agree this is a lovely plant. I have tried it but it did not wish to flower in my garden. It obviously prefers you (tinge of jealousy, lol) cheers, catmint

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

I have heard of this plant, though I haven't tried it yet. I love that it looks grassy but isn't a grass, so maybe it wouldn't give me a rash. I'll have to keep an eye out for a plant to bring home with me.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVW

It certainly is an amazing shade of periwinkle blue! I've noticed it in other people's gardens, but I don't have any. Your strategy makes sense -- to let it take center stage so it isn't drowned out by other showier, bigger flowers. Lovely plant!

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

Allan, I have never seen this plant but will certainly look for it at the nursery.


May 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I have tried this plant several times with no luck. I wonder what growing conditions it likes in your garden. I believe it is native to Maine so maybe it's too hot here. It comes in yellow too. Great plant to pair up with miniature hostas: perfect proportions :-). Carolyn

I've never actually grown this. It had spread like crazy in my neighbor's garden, creating these gorgeous drifts through the bed. But I've heard others say it's finicky. Perhaps it needs just the right spot?

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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