When I started buying plants for our garden last spring, I focused largely on perennials. Plants need time to establish in the garden before the harsh winters we have here in New England (we’re in hardiness Zone 7). I hadn’t planned to pick up any more, but as the temperatures have plunged these past few weeks and mums have taken over at garden centers, perennials have been moved to clearance so I scooped up a few new goodies that I’m really excited about. Both are very heat-resistant which is great since we had scorching late July temps this past summer. Now I just need to get my spring bulbs in before the first frost and we’ll be in good shape. Well, except for the damn grass we still need to seed AND the raised beds we need to build.
Stachys Officinalis — (Common Name: Wood Betony, ‘Humelo’ — details here
Something I’ve been slow to truly grasp as I’ve begun to put in our garden is how important it is to consider the “bloom time” for perennials. I last read about this when I was planning my wedding since the flowers that can be most easily sourced are those that are “in season.” A lot of beloved flowers, like tulips and peony, are spring-flowering, spanning a month or two at most. It’s a wonderful reminder to enjoy every precious moment drinking in the gorgeousness of your spring display, but it has also taught me to really appreciate those rare, long-blooming perennials like Wood Betony, which blooms July to September.
Agastache “Heatwave” (Common Name: Anise Hyssop) – details here
Probably my favorite perennial purchase of the season for so many reasons. First, I love the scent of the leaves. I never understood the value of foliage that released fragrance only when brushed — how often am I going to be out touching my plants, you know — but catching a whiff of anise as I’m out weeding or mulching or deadheading near my Hyssop makes me so happy. Next, the flowers are stunning. I’ve always loved the cottage-y effect that salvias give a garden but the flowering season is so short, so Hyssop makes a great alternative. Left untouched, it will mound itself in it’s place and grow rather large, too, so it’s a great garden filler and major butterfly, hummingbird and bee-attractor.
Related side-story: Let me just share that I’d never seen a hummingbird in the wild until this summer when I happened to catch one whirring in front of the red “Bee Balm” my mom transplanted for me when I was out on the patio one morning. I felt like I was watching a fairy, it’s wings barely visible and it’s body so exquisitely tiny and delicate. It was absolutely magical.