Jodi, who gardens in Nova Scotia, put out a request to fellow bloggers to post pictures of their favorite perennials in the garden, and why they liked them so well. Here are the best my garden has to offer, with some favorite bulbs thrown in for good measure:
I love coneflowers and I've got many cultivars, but hands down the best performers are the Chicago Botanic Gardens hybrids, 'Mango Meadowbrite' and 'Orange Meadowbrite'. They don't have the fullness of petals that some do, but the foliage remains healthier and they bloom non-stop until just before frost.
I don't think I can complain about any of my irises - German bearded, Dutch, Siberian, Reticulated, or otherwise, but my favorite has to be 'Red at Night'. Its large blooms don't fade in the sun and it's got multiple blooms per stalk, so it hangs around for a long time.
While these are called hardy glads, they're only hardy to zone 7. This cultivar is 'Atom' and it's considered an heirloom bulb, gracing gardens since 1946. I just discovered them in 2005 and I find their species look to be preferable to the regular garden gladiolus and well worth the trouble of digging them up in the fall and storing them in the basement till spring. They multiply like crazy, which is all the better for me, because I absolutely adore their fire engine red color with the white picotee edging. You can stagger their planting so that bloom time is extended. They keep well as a cut flower, too.
I like my 'Starfighter', 'Robert Swanson', and 'Italia', but the real star of all the lilies has got to be the Oriental 'Muscadet'. While they mysteriously disappeared this summer, I enjoyed their perfect blooms and heady fragrance that permeated the entire patio area last summer, so they warrant a second try. I've put them in an area that gets full sun, so they will probably do better than they did in the mostly shady spot where I had them before.
The best of the daffodils I have is 'Avalon'. It's a large one, and while I like the tiny ones too (like 'Pipit'), this one is robust and stays in flower a very long time. I even have it in shade and it does very well. The arborvitae that partially shaded it in the last couple of years has declined and part of it has even died, so 'Avalon' will get more sun this spring. That can only improve its performance, if that's even possible.
My favorite peony is 'Charles Burgess.' I planted it in 2006 and it just took right off. I love the rich magenta with the contrasting center and its foliage stays green and healthy right up until frost. I can't say that about all my peonies.
Hardy geranium 'Rozanne' is a strong performer. It starts out slow in the spring, but quickly makes up for lost time. By midsummer, I have to prune it back pretty hard so it doesn't consume everything around it. It's not that it's invasive, it's just that the plant itself grows that much, and well ... it has to go somewhere.
It works well as a groundcover, but that's not how I'm using it, so I have to keep it cut back. That doesn't hurt it a bit and it flowers late into fall.
Most people think roses can be difficult and perhaps for some they are, whether it be due to climate, soil, or other factors, but I've never found them to be that way. I don't fuss over them a whole lot and maybe there's a bit of luck involved, but I've only ever had problems with one ('Diana, Princess of Wales') and even that one eventually came around this summer after looking miserable for the first part of the season. But the one that has been the most outstanding of all is 'Disneyland'. I had seen it on a garden tour and knew I had to have it.
I can't imagine spring without the Chionodoxa. When everything's wet and brown from the melting snow and not much else has even started growing, this nearly glows in the garden. I go out and get down close and just stare at it; it's so pretty it almost doesn't look real.
Now how could I forget the Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)? I extolled its virtues a few weeks ago, but I have to mention it here because it belongs on my list of great perennials in the garden. It looks good even when it's not in bloom.
I'll wrap it up with a new one to the garden this year, Astrantia major 'Oma'. I can't say how it winters through yet, so maybe it doesn't belong here in my list of strong performers, but I hope it does just fine, because I love it. I acquired another cultivar in Cleveland in October, so if both of them make it through the winter I'll be thrilled.