Spring awakens the hearts of gardeners. We can't wait to get our hands dirty, to plant and nurture and to gaze upon fresh foliage and early spring blooms. It also awakens our curiosity. What new perennials will our independent garden centers offer for us to add to our borders?
There is a plethora of new perennials ready to tempt their way onto your carts in 2014. Here are just a few that I'm planning to try in my landscape.
Achillea Sunny Seduction
I love yarrows. They are low maintenance, drought-tolerant and bloom a long time in hot summer sun. Sunny Seduction grows 18 inches to 24 inches tall with sturdy stems that won't flop.
Flowers open bright lemon yellow and then fade to the color of butter from June through August. Deadheading will encourage continued blooming. Like its sisters and bothers, Sunny Seduction is not bothered by rabbits or deer, but butterflies love it!
Plant it with Salvia Marcus and a bright orange daylily like Rocket City.
Agastache Kudos Mandarin
If you want to invite more hummingbirds and butterflies into your garden, try this hummingbird mint.
A compact-grower, just 18 inches tall, it requires well-drained soil and a spot bathed in sunshine. Spikes of bright orange continue flowering nonstop from June into fall.
Partner Kudos Mandarin with Achillea Moonshine and Deep Pearl Blue bellflower. Plant it near a garden bench, and enjoy the hummingbirds and butterflies while relaxing with a glass of lemonade this summer.
Astilbe Amber Moon
If you need to brighten your shade garden, plant Amber Moon Astilbe. Lacy chartreuse foliage tinged with red emerges in spring before turning green in late summer. In mid summer, blush red stems rise from the foliage, boasting rose pink flowers. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Astilbe Astary Rose
This pint-sized astilbe sports burnished bronze foliage from spring through midsummer before turning glossy dark green. Feathery plumes of rose pink begin to bloom in mid summer.
Both Astilbes prefer partial shade but will tolerate more sun with consistent moisture. Either would be lovely planted amongst small hostas.
Brunnera Alexander's Great
I can't wait to get this planted in my shade garden. This false forget-me-not has huge silvery leaves! Plants grow 15 inches tall and 24 inches wide and bloom with dainty blue forget-me-not flowers for an extended period beginning in mid spring.
Brunnera Sea Heart
Another promising new shade perennial, Sea Heart forms a clump of silver leaves veined and edged with green. Sprays of blue flowers appear in spring, like other false forget-me-nots, but the unique foliage color is what makes this plant a must-have.
Brunnera prefer partial shade and are not fussy about their soil. They are gorgeous planted with ferns and sedges.
Buddleia Buzz Sky Blue
A butterfly bush for containers or small spaces in the garden, Buzz Sky Blue boasts full-size flowers on 3- to 4-foot plants.
Large spikes of sky blue flowers smother the gray-green foliage. I had good luck with Buzz Purple in a container last year, so I'm anxious to try Buzz Sky Blue.
Advances in breeding with English lavenders have created plants that are hardy in our northern Illinois gardens.
As with other lavenders, they require full sun and good drainage. Cut them back by half after their first bloom for a repeat floral performance.
This is just a sampling of the new perennials that would love to find their way into your landscape.
• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist and the garden center manager at The Planter's Palette, 28W571 Roosevelt Road, Winfield. Call (630) 293-1040, ext. 2, or visit planterspalette.com.