Peak season perennial for the Northwest

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While we would all ideally have gardens that look their best in every season, the reality is often far from that ideal. Few of us in the world have the time to devote to our gardens, and the hard truth is that the planning and work that goes into gardening means that we often only get one season where we sit down. You can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

As executive editor Danielle Sherry explains, “Winter is for planning. It’s when you really don’t want to be outside and when your time is better spent planning an attack to make your garden the best it can be. Spring is the time for work, when the bulk of your cleaning, planting, and projects are done. Fall is also a work period and is usually when you are Can revisit things you didn’t do in the spring.

After all that preparation and planning, you want to make sure your summer garden is at its peak when it’s finally too warm to work hard. To help ensure your summer garden really shines, area experts share their favorite perennials for this peak season. Find picks for the Northwest below, and be sure to check out more great summer picks in Pick Season Combos.


1. ‘Indian Summer™’ Lily of Peru

Indian Summer Peru Lily

Name: Alstroemeria ‘Toronto Amp’

Zones: 8-9

Size: 24-30 inches tall and 36 inches wide

Conditions: full sun; Well-drained soil

Local Range: South America

I have fallen in love with this well behaved Peruvian lily. Contrasts beautifully with its unusual, plum-colored foliage. Fading tones of gold, peach, orange, red, and burgundy flowers when the flowers begin to bloom. Early summer in cool maritime climates, flowers are continuous until early fall, bringing a tropical touch. in your garden. It is a deer resistant, easy perennial Vigorous in growth but not fast spreading, instead forming a compact clump with long, strong stems. Great for cut flowers. There will be more flowers. Abundant and long lasting with regular watering during summer.

2. ‘Golden Baby®‘ Dwarf Goldenrod

Golden Baby Dwarf Goldenrod

Name: Solidago ‘Goldkind’

Zones: 4-8

Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Conditions: full sun; Average to dry, well-drained soil

Local Range: Origin of the garden

This beautiful goldenrod is a compact, upright grower with bright, golden yellow flowers. There are small flowers. arranged by hundreds in graceful ranks on the tips of strong branches; They look beautiful in the garden and make excellent cut flowers. The plant forms a narrow crown and will not move or replant as it matures. Originally selected for the cut flower industry, it exhibits very good resistance to tough perennial diseases, is not palatable to deer or rabbits, and is loved by bees and butterflies. Although It can tolerate dry conditions, and will perform even better if given some extra water during dry periods.

3. ‘Mönch’ Easter

Munch Easter

Name: Aster × Frikartii ‘Mönch’

Zones: 5-9

Size: 3 feet long and wide

Conditions: full sun; Well-drained soil

Local Range: Origin of the garden

‘Mönch’ adds a welcome cool note to the summer garden as the hot days intensify. It is unique among asters for its earlier and longer flowering time. The first periwinkle blue flowers with pleasant yellow centers bloom in late June, and the show continues into early fall. Its sturdy stems are well-branched and resist late-season bending. New flowers form higher on the stem than older flowers, making deadheading unnecessary. This aster has shown good deer and rabbit resistance. To help it live longer, keep it from getting too wet in the winter.

4. ‘Bleeding Hearts’ Oxeye Sunflower

Bleeding Hearts Ox Eye Sunflower

Name: Heliopsis helianthoides var Scabra ‘Bleeding Heart’

Zones: 3-9

Size: 4 feet long and wide

Conditions: full sun to partial shade; Well-drained soil

Local Range: Eastern and Central North America

From the moment this hardy prairie perennial emerges in spring, its smoky purple leaves make a statement. This long-blooming plant produces its first flowers in early July and continues to bloom until early fall. As the buds open, the petals are a stunning vibrant reddish-orange that gradually fades to golden yellow. At the height of summer, ‘Bleeding Hearts’ puts on a spectacular multicolored show, with individual flowers persisting for more than four weeks. New flowers form on top of old flowers, hiding them and making deadheading unnecessary or most of the time. Deer generally find this plant repulsive—unlike pollinators, who love the flowers. It tolerates clay and rocky soil as long as there is good drainage. Water regularly during long dry periods for best flowering.


Contributing Editor Richie Stephen is the executive director of the Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle.

Photos: Courtesy of Richie Stephen

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