My Old Perennial Garden

My Perennials: A List of Those I’ve Grown

Welcome to my perennial garden list … this is a list of the perennials I grow, or have grown in my own gardens. They are divided according to light preference, but sometimes will take either sun or part sun, etc. I probably have more that I can’t think of at the moment. Actually, in the shrub category there are many more- I will try to update the lists.

Over the years I’ve lost so many plants! More than I am now growing, but my mistakes and losses gave me understanding of the garden. Don’t let losses discourage you. I have some tips here based on them.

Journal Notes:

Sometimes it seems that more plants have been lost than have been grown well in my gardens, but that is one of the lessons of a garden. Plants are living things, they thrive and they pass back into the earth. The garden is a changing place requiring the labor and vision of the gardener to make it a blooming and beautiful place.

Thaxter cottage garden flowers

Childe Hassam painting detail of Celia Thaxter’s Garden

Certain plants have proven their ability to survive the vagary of both weather and the efforts of the gardener.

The hostas, peonies, hellebores, and candytuft thrive and look better every year. The phlox are resilient, but need more cultivation and attention to give their best. Coreopsis, Lamium maculatum, Ajuga, all prove their worth year after year.

These become a backbone of each year’s garden.

When the ground is newly cultivated, it is loose and friable and plants grow well in it. The process of digging and dividing perennials gives not only new plants, but keeps the ones that have outlived their youth and bloom a new strength.

I made two mistakes when creating perennial gardens, one was to turn under the grass instead of removing the sods (creating persistent weed problems in the years ahead) and the other was using mulch on the flower beds.

Mulch is best for shrubs, trees and places where one does not need or want to cultivate. It interferes with reseeding.

Perennials for Borders

Top Ten Perennial Choices

You can choose an important perennial flowering plant to be the focal point of each part of the growing season. Peonies, Irises, Lilies, Phlox, and Chrysanthemums can carry the garden throughout the entire season with companions to create beautiful and colorful garden pictures.

My Favorite German Iris

Perennial Plants for Beautiful Borders

For a garden calendar of seasonal tasks, see the Month by Month Garden Calender The word ‘perennial’ is a loose one. In the garden there are some plants that will outlive the gardener, but many are plants that tend to run out and disappear after only a few seasons. Much will depend on the efforts and knowledge of the one doing the growing. Replacements of short lived perennials will be necessary because of the nature of the plant. When I listed the top plants choices I would make for a garden bordera garden area with shrubs,perennials, bulbs, and biennials together, they were choices that would live longest with the least work. Those are traits that we tend to want in a modern garden. Ten Best Perennials 5 Best Perennials for August 12 Midsummer Bloomers Ten Top Perennials

Tips for Perennial Blooms

Visit the Perennial Plants Index

Early on, I found that a mixed border is the most satisfactory way to achieve design and all season bloom.


Echinacea purpura

Most perennial plants are long lived, but they do need to to be divided and maintained to keep them from running out, and losing strength. I’ve lost many plants during times when other demands in life required that I be elsewhere than in the garden. I’m always sad when losing plants, but also amazed at the many that are quite resilient.

[Sunny Border]

Best time to Divide Perennials, easy print-out reference from Garden Gate Magazine. (pdf file)

  • Achilleas:coronaria,millefolium,ptarmica -also known as yarrows
  • Asters : pink, blue, purple, white “Michaelmas daisies”
  • Campanulas : poscharskyana, persifolia, cochlearfolia, carpatica
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Catmint, Nepeta
  • Columbines: spurred (Aquilegia canadensis) and bonnet types
  • Coreopsis verticillata, sunny yellow + long-lived stalwart
  • Dianthus
  • Echinacea purpurea, prairie plant with pink flowers and medicinal properties
  • Erigeron
  • Eupatorium
  • Gaura Lindheimeri (not hardy in zone 5 and kept losing it)
  • Goat thistle, Echinops
  • Gypsophila
  • Geraniums: Johnson’s Blue, lancastriense (white variety)
  • Flax, Linum narbonense: sky blue flower, short-lived perennial
  • Filipendula
  • Irises : German, Siberian, Reticulata, Dutch
  • Lilies:  Asiatic, Oriental, Platte, L. lancifolium,Tiger-lily, L. candidum, Madonna, L. longiflorum, Easter lily
  • Oenothera
  • Oriental Poppies
  • Peonies
  • Penstemon
  • Phlox
  • Physostegia
  • Platycodon : blue and white varieties, very long lived in the garden
  • Monarda, red and pinks are hummingbird magnets
  • Red Poker, Kniphofia -crowded out, but the red and yellow flowers are one of my favorites
  • Rudbeckia’ Goldsturm’ is one of the best landscape plants with golden flowers
  • Scabiosa
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Veronica

[Shade/Part Sun]

  • Adenophora confusa lavender blue campanula-like flowers
  • Alchemilla mollis useful foliage plant with yellow green flowers
  • Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’
  • Daylilies
  • Hellebores
  • Heuchera’Caramel’, ‘Purple Sails’
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Hostas:’Frances Williams’, ‘Francee’, tardiflora, ‘Royal Standard’, Albo-marginata-undulata
  • Ferns Male,
  • Mertensia, Virginia bluebells
  • Myosotis
  • Primroses
  • Violas/violets

[Ground Cover]




Vining Perennials

lNothing puts on the type of show that the big flowered clematis vines do. They are big, like flat stars of the most beautiful blues, pinks, purples, and shades ranging between these colors. Some solid, some striped, they can also be doubled, and in their season fully cover their supports with an overflow of generous bloom. Although they have a reputation for being tricky, I have always found them easy to grow. They do require a feeding and regular moisture. The rule is that clematis like their faces in the sun, and their feet in the shade. The smaller flowered clematis are also quite showy and have a fragrance that carries on the air, to boot. Autumn clematis, small-flowered Roses and Clematis,Perfect Pair
Campanula portenschlagiana

Quicklist: hints and tips

I lost many of my plants over the years due to…

  • Some were simply short-lived perennials that needed periodic renewing.
  • Weather conditions which were unusually harsh (drought, mainly)
  • Crowding and neglect. Life happens!
  • Wrong plant, wrong place (too much shade or not enough moisture, etc)

Losing plants is certainly part of gardening, but regular, attentive care, regular dividing and propagation, all make a difference in how our borders fare.

The plantings mature, and some are pulled out due to “taking over”, too.

Read About Bulbs
Read About Annuals


Garden notes

Repeated, and emphasized over again, is the advice to prepare and improve the soil in a garden. This is even more important when growing long lived plants that will demand much of their environment to produce lots of blooms. The old advice was to “double dig”, and that is probably still good advice, although you rarely find it offered anymore. At the very least, regularly add amendments and compost to boost the soil.


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Red Hot Poker Plant

Rare Double Platycodon

Hardy Globe Thistles