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

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in drought tolerant (4)

Wednesday
Apr222009

This Perennial is Not a Clump of Grass

Armeria maritima is a short cute little plant that grows 6 to 12 inches in height and width in full sun and in dry well-drained soil. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8 and blooms on miniature lollipop sticks in shades of  rose, pink, lilac, red and white. This plant tolerates drought rather well and is adaptable to wide varieties of garden conditions including rock gardens and swimming pool areas. If you are using salt water in your pool, this plant is ideal because it is salt tolerant.

Smaller seedling clumps of Armeria should be planted at the front of the flower border or along a path where they can be seen up close to be admired. From a distance, the clump would have to be mature and wide to be noticed in the flower bed. It is a much appreciated plant because it begins flowering in April and May when few perennials are in bloom.

When not in bloom, Armeria can be mistaken for grass and might be dug up and removed in error. That is why it is recommended to allow clumps of Armeria to thicken out over time and to resist dividing the plant even though that would be beneficial. A mature clump in an almost circular shape with a vivid dark green color is a sure sign that this is not a stray seedling of grass.

This is another easy care plant with a qualification. Dividing every few years and deadheading throughout the growing season will encourage prolonged flowering.

Friday
Apr102009

Effervescent Perovskia, the Perfect Perennial

Capturing the shimmer on this plant eludes most photographers. You will have to grow it to experience the shimmer. This photo is supplied by Lotus Greenhouses. Click on the image to visit their site.

This is the champagne of all perennials. It literally shimmers all summer long. When fully opened, the flowers are lavender blue and brilliant in the sunshine. In bloom, this plant looks like a majestic silver-blue cloud; a veritable purple haze!

Perovskia grows into a multi-stemmed clump with flower panicles at the end of each stem.The finely-cut silvery grey-green foliage is intensely aromatic all season long. In the early spring its woody stems need to be cut down to 6 inches from the ground. It can also be trimmed in the fall but then one would lose the winter interest that the spent flowers offer.

This perennial is easy care and does not like to be moved or divided. It will grow to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, is happy in zones 5a to 9b, loves full sun and above all, adds rich character to the garden from July until fall. Heat, drought or humidity will not affect the performance or the beauty of this versatile perennial. Use it as a foil for other plants, especially pink rose bushes. Plant the annual verbena bonariensis in front of Perovskia and the combination will take your breathe away.

Wednesday
Apr012009

This Perennial is a Garden Hottie

This is Gaillardia "Tizzy". Deep russet buds open to fluted ray flowers in red terra cotta with a hint of yellow. Image created by Skagit Gardens.

Gaillardia is another reliable perennial. This intensely colorful plant blooms from June to frost, makes a good cut flower and is drought tolerant. It grows 12 to 14 inches tall and wide and shows best when planted in full sun at the front of the flower bed. It does not like clay soil and older plants will not bloom unless they are dug up and divided every few years. New cultivars are introduced regularly. Most are variations on the same color theme and that makes it difficult to appreciate these new "models". However, some new types such as "Frenzy" and "Tizzy" have fluted petals with a vibrant, almost frenetic, distribution of color. These two varieties are responsible for a rekindled interest in this well-known but underused plant. The new cultivar "Burgandy" takes Gaillardia in a new direction. Its wine-colored petals make it stand out from all the rest. Butterflies love this family of plants and so will you, especially if you like warm shades of gold, orange and red flowers. This perennial is hardy in zones 2 to 10 which makes it welcome in most climates.

Sunday
Mar292009

An Easy Care Perennial for Heat and Drought.

The close up of the flower Caryopteris "Dark Night" is from North Creek Nurseries. Click on the image to visit their site.Caryopteris is a little known and under-utilized plant that is essential to gardens where summers are hot and dry. This compact border plant is considered a small shrub but performs amazingly well as a perennial. The cultivar "Dark Night", shown on the right, grows 30 inches wide and tall. Its grey-green foliage is covered in late summer with hundreds of 12 inch intensely blue flower spikes at a time when other richly colored perennials have begun to wane. This remarkable, heat tolerant plant is said to grow in Zones 5 to 8 in a dry sunny location. Yet, it is not available in some areas that are labeled zone 5.

Because all of its flowers are produced on new wood, it is recommended that the plant be cut down in autumn along with other perennials. This will force the plant to produce new flower-bearing shoots the following season. However, fertilize this plant sparingly as over-feeding will produce rampant growth with few flowers. Beware! The rampant growth is not easy to pull out.

This is a very impressive easy-care plant that will thrive in spite of neglect. Buy more than one plant because when you see it perform in late summer, you will regret not having purchased more. And by that time, it may be too late to find them at the nurseries.