By late summer and into the fall it is difficult to find good flowering perennial flowers. Last summer I planted some Japanese Anemone for the first time and was very pleased with what they did in the garden. The plant was also recommended as a good cut flower and that was a bonus. The plants grew rapidly and quickly developed a large mound of foliage that was dark green, slightly hairy, and deeply cut or lobed. The mound of foliage grew 18 to 24 inches tall and just as wide. In august the flower buds began to developed and kept forming on the plant right up until frost. The flowers grew on 12 inch plus stems so they were well above the foliage and from a distance they looked a lot like the dahlia plant. When the flower buds first appeared they had a silvery appearance that made them very noticeable on the dark green foliage. The flower buds open to a large cup-shaped flower with a delicate satiny appearance. The center of the bloom was green marble- like and was surrounded with fluffy yellow pollen sacks. The flowers were 3 to 4 inches wide and came in pink, red, purple, and white. When you plant Anemones, select a location with full sun to partial shade to increase the flowers on the plant. Your soil should be well drained with no standing water ever. Condition the soil with plenty of organic matter such as peat moss, animal manure and compost. Anemones love a rich soil that is fertile so during the growing season feed regularly with a flower fertilizer such as 10.10.10, or chicken manure monthly. These plant are long lived but should be mulched during the winter in most areas. Divide in the spring if plants are getting to large for the flowerbed. Just split them in two or three clumps and replant them 2 feet apart. The Anemone will look great in a mass planting, mixed borders, or in a wildflower, meadow or woodland garden. There is one thing you must know about the Anemone is poisonous if eaten so it may not be a plant for the gardener who has small children.
"Phlox - mixed colors"
The summer perennial garden would not be complete without the tall Phlox filling your garden with large clusters of fragrant flowers. The tall Phlox will grow to 2 to 3 feet tall and just as wide in a large clump with dense foliage that is dark green in color and narrow pointed. The flowers have five-petals and are flat from side to side about one inch wide. The flower always has two shades in the petals with the center either darker or lighter in color. The center of the flower has a noticeable hole in it that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds while in bloom. The flowers begin to form in august and last well into September. The colors are shades of pink, red, salmon, purple, blue, mauve, white and many bi-colors. When you plant in your garden be sure to select a sunny location in the garden and keep the plants out of gardens that have a sprinkler system. Tall Phlox will do best is a well-ventilated area so give them room to allow the air to circulate during the summer. If the plant is in a cramp area or gardens that get watered often the foliage will quickly develop Powdery Mildew disease and fall apart quickly. The back of perennial borders or a windy location is best. When planting be sure to add soil conditioners such as peat moss, animal manure and compost. Tall Phlox loves to be fertilized monthly with a granular fertilizer or chicken manure. The best soil is one that is well drained and never holds water during the spring. You can divide in the spring when the plant is about one inch tall by splitting the plant into small clumps. Plant clumps 2 feet apart in mass plantings, mixed borders, cottage gardens or in your cut flower garden.
In the fall most of the garden has begun to die back for the year but if you want color into October, then think of the New England Aster. This wonderful fall flowering Aster begins in September and last thru October covering the dark green foliage with one- inch diameter daisy-like flowers. The flowers come in blue, purple, pink, red or white and butterflies and bees love the flowers. Fall Aster can grow 2 to 3 feet tall if not pinched but I prefer that you cut the plant in half on the 4th of July to make the plant bush out and double the amount of flowering stems on the plant. This keeps the Fall Aster shorter and it will not topple over in the fall. Fall Asters will have a more pleasing look and easier to divide in years to come. Divide every three years to keep them under control. When you plant, Fall Asters select a sunny location to a little light shade, as heavy shade will make the plant stretch for the sunlight and plants loose their shape. The plants will grow in most any soil as long as there is no standing water ever. This fall you may notice them growing wild on the side of the road, as you search for the beautiful fall foliage. Fall Asters will stay full and produce more flowers if you plant them with animal manure and compost. Proper planting will keep the plant healthy during summer drought. The fall Aster will not tolerate a sprinkler system planting bed as watering on a regular basis on the foliage will develop a fungus problem called Powdery mildew a white fungus that turns the foliage black in the summer. Plant Fall Asters in meadow, wildflower, woodland, cottage or border garden. Plant Asters in a windy location or in the back of the flowerbeds to allow for good air circulation and feed monthly for healthier plants.
The best daisy type flower for the summer garden is the Black-Eyed Susan and once you plant it in your garden, you will agree with me, that it is a top performer. The Flower color is extremely rich looking with beautiful bright golden-yellow petals and a dark brown, cone-shaped center that will turn black in the fall. The sunny appearance of the flowers will add excitement to your garden because it will attract butterflies while in bloom and in the fall and winter the black cone will be visited by seed eating birds. The plant is strong and has no insect pest or disease problems a real prize. The Black-Eye Susan has rich dark green foliage that is oval with a pointed tip and the plant will grow 18 to 24 inches tall and just as wide. The flowers come on tall stems 12 inches or more to help display their beauty. The flowers also make a great cut flower and will last for weeks in a vase of water. Established plants will bloom for 2 to 3 months as long as they are planted in a sunny location. The main plant will spread with underground runners but the plant is not aggressive and it reseeds freely also. This spring plant Black-Eye Susan in a sun location or light shade and a soil that is well drained with no standing water. Condition the soil with peat moss, animal manure, and compost. Be sure lime yearly as most perennials like a neutral soil. Plants can be divided in the spring or in the fall. Black-eye Susan can be planted in mass plantings, meadow, wildflower, cottage or butterfly gardens. In the perennial garden it will become your favorite flower because the more you cut the flowers the more they will bloom. Feed monthly with a granular fertilizer to keep plants productive.
If you would like to get back to old time gardening and build a country cottage flower garden then begin with the Lady's-mantle. This is a very unusual perennial because it has large lime green foliage 2 to 4 inches wide that resemble a geranium leaf. The flowers are a loose spray of tiny lime green flowers that has a haze effect on the plant. These flowers are not showy but standout on the plant and the soft appearance is very unique, almost like a dwarf Baby Breath in shades of lime green. The leaves are covered with tiny downy hairs on the upper side of the leaf. This unusual hair will catch water from the rain or sprinkler and suspend it like tiny drops of glistening pearls that will move on the leaf as the wind blows. Plant the Lady's-mantle in a sunny location but it will tolerate a little partial shade as long as the soil is rich in organic matter. Be sure to condition the soil when planting with peat moss, animal manure, and compost. Also the soil should be well drained, moist and fertile if you want them to thrive and spread in your garden. It wont tolerate dry growing conditions during summers that are hot. You can divide in the spring or fall. Plants grow 12 to 18 inches tall and just as wide. The flowers begin during may and last for 4 to 6 weeks and those unusual lime green flowers can be cut for small flower arrangements. Lady's-mantle make a great perennial to use in borders, edging of gardens, groundcovers, rock gardens, wall planting, and as a woodland or cottage garden plant. If you have a moist area with a little bit of shade, then look to the Lady's-mantle to plant along walk ways or garden paths. Best of all this plant needs little to no care once established in your garden.
Tradescantia Mixed Colors-Spiderwort
I always like to try something new in my garden and so should you. Last year I planted Spiderwort a gorgeous long lasting perennial that has a flower that resembles the impatience plant. Spiderwort has foliage that resembles grass with upright or reclining stems and arching foliage. The stems are rather weak and when squeezed are watery like the impatience. The flower stems are toped with clusters of flower buds that produce only 3 petals but the center of the bloom is fluffy and contains 6 yellow polled sacks. The flower stem also contains 3 grasses like leaves giving the flower cluster the appearance of a large spider. The flower color is white, pink, or purple and the flower last for just one day but the number of buds on the stems keeps the plant in bloom for up to 3 months. The flowers arrive in early summer and last well into the fall. Spiderwort will grow 1 to 2 feet tall and spread 18 to 36 inches wide. Plant them in a full sun to partial shade location in the garden. They will do best in a soil rich in organic matter so condition with peat moss and compost. The soil must be well drained and never have standing water or it will rot and die. If the bees do there job the flower will produce pods that eject seeds around your plants starting new seedlings come spring. If you have a hot summer, the plant may collapse creating a mess but all you have to do is cut it back and it will develop all over and bloom until frost. This perennial needs NO fertilizer. Use the spiderwort in mass plantings, mixed borders, woodland gardens, rock gardens, and as a ground cover.
Sidalcea ' Elsie Heugh' (Miniature Hollyhock)
If you like pastel colored flowers that will give your garden the look of a British cottage garden than its time you plant the Miniature Hollyhocks. This is a lovely plant for your perennial border and the cup-shaped flowers will grace your garden. The strong stems hold flower buds from the bottom of the stem to the top of the plant. The blooms appear in early summer and last for over 3 months. The blooms come in pink or white and are about 3 inches across. The plant grows 2 -2 ½ feet tall and spread just as wide. The flowers last only on day but are self -cleaning and when one falls, it is quickly replaced with others, all summer long. The foliage looks like fingers on a hand or like the Japanese Maple leaf but each leaf has a different look. Because the plant has so many shoots containing flowers coming up from the ground it is often thought of as a flowering shrub. The plant produces a prolific amount of seeds that sprout around the plant. Seeds sprout quickly and will usually flower the first year. Set out plants in the spring or start seeds directly in the garden in a sunny location. A well-drained soil, slightly acid soil that has been conditioned with animal manure and compost will give you a great flower display all summer long. This perennial will brighten any meadow garden, mass planting, mixed borders, or large areas that needs color. The tall strong stems make a great cut flower for summer bouquets.
Eryngium alpinum - Sea Holly
Finding a good blue flower for the perennial garden is difficult but the Sea Holly is one you can count on. This beautiful perennial has the appearance of a thistle plant, with spiny leaves as well as the flowers. The flower will give your garden a completely different look because of the unusual flowers. The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. The foliage, stems and flowers are steely blue but do not touch unless you have heavy gloves on, because of the very sharp thorns. Sea Holly plants grow upright and are very stiff looking. The uniqueness of this plant is well worth the precautions you take when this plant is in your garden. The cone shaped flower is surrounded by a stiff collar like incredibly spiny bract. Think of the poinsettia plant, the red leaves are bract not flowers. The flowers form in late July and last until September blooming for 4 to 6 weeks. Plant in a sunny location but Sea Holly will tolerate partial shade with fewer flowers. Soils must be well drained to sandy but added compost and animal manure will increase the size of the plant and number of flowers. Once planted in the garden they do not like to be moved, so do not attemp to transplant them. The butterflies and birds love the flower creating movement in the garden. Use Sea Holly in perennial borders, mass plantings, wildflower gardens, specimen plants for colorful foliage and in the cut flower garden. Fresh arrangements during the summer are spectacular and the strong stems can be cut and hung upside down in a cool garage for dry arrangements.
Aquilegia 'McKana Hybrids' Mixed Colors-Columbines
If you are looking to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your perennial garden then be sure to plant Columbine plants this spring. Columbine has perfectly designed flowers to feed them and these flowers hold large quantities of nectar that they love. The striking mixture of flower colors will brighten any garden. The flower has 5 petals forming a trumpet and this is surrounded with a second row of 5 additional petals that fold back like a collar but star shape. The flower colors are endless and many bi-color forms are available. The flowers begin in late spring and last until early summer. Each plant will produce flowers for 4 to 6 weeks on strong stems that sway with the spring breeze. Plants will grow best in partial shade but will do well in full sun. Columbine will grow 6 to 24 inches tall and just as wide depending on variety. Plant Columbine in the spring in a rich soil and add a lot of peat moss, compost and animal manure. The soil that is well drained but not sandy will give you more flowers and when the seeds form on the plant prepare for more seedlings for next spring. Standing water will or heavy soil will not be tolerated. When the flowers fade cut the dead stems off to encourage a larger plant next year. I like to plant Columbine in a woodland garden, Meadow garden, rock gardens, mixed perennial borders and in a cut flower garden.
Platycodon grandiflorus - Balloon Flowers
Trying to find a low growing perennial that will bloom in the summer can be difficult unless you know about the Bellflower. I recommend that you look for the "Blue Clips" and "White Clips" hybrids at a nursery near you. The foliage is triangular like English ivy and dark green. The foliage develops in a rounded mound 3 to 4 inches tall and spreading 12 to 15 inches wide. Flower buds develop all over the plant on short 2 to 3 inch stems and burst open with a cup shaped flower up to 2 inches wide. The flowers arrive in midsummer and last until fall. Bellflowers are easy to grow and long lived in the perennial garden. Plant in the spring in a sunny location to light shade for more flowers. These plants love a rich soil that is well -drained and never standing water. If your soil is sandy and you want to plant it in full sun be sure to add bark mulch around the base of the plant to help hold water in the soil. When planting be sure to add compost, peat moss and animal manure to encourage quick rooting. If the plants stop flowering cut it back in half and the plant will quickly send out new growth and start flowering again. Deadheading is important if you want this plant to continue flowering all summer. Insect and disease are seldom a problem with this perennial and they are perfect for the new gardener. Divide in the spring by pushing a shovel thru the center of the plant.
Lysimachia punctata-Yellow Loosestrife
Have you ever wanted a perennial flowering plant that will grow and just take over, than look no further than the Yellow Loosestrife? The Yellow Loosestrife needs little to no care and in time can take over your garden. In a perennial border, set plants in a 10 inch plastic pot sunk in the ground to control runners. Now if you have large areas to fill with flowers, plantings near the street or a woodsy area this is your plant. The plant spreads like a wave coming to shore and when planted in the right spot it is wonderful. This plant loves moisture and it will thrive near streams or areas that has standing water in the spring. Partial shade is not a problem either and it will grow very well. The plant prefers a rich humus type soil. The plant will tolerate sandy or dry soil if planted in partial shade. Yellow Loosestrife will grow 18 to 36 inches tall and blooms for 4 weeks or more. The bloom is cup-or star -shaped about 1 to 2 inches wide. The flowers start almost at ground level and run to the top of the plant. When the plant is in bloom it is eye catching and beautiful. Loosestrife makes a beautiful cut flower, for bouquets during June thru August. The foliage makes a nice hedge in the back of flowerbeds, also great in mass plantings and meadow gardens. The plant fills in quickly and makes a great ground cover where nothing else will grow and thrive.
Your summer garden should be bright and colorful and there is none superior perennial than the Coreopsis Tickseed. If your garden is sunny than you need a pretty, daisy like flower that when in bloom is covered with hundreds of tiny golden yellow flowers. A new gardener can grow this perennial. The flowers are 1 inch or less in diameter, with a fuzzy center. The plant will grow 18 to 30 inches tall and just as wide. I love the Tickseed type best because when the plant goes to seed, the pods that they produced resemble insect-like seeds. If you allow this to happen, the plant will attract lots of seed eating birds like Goldfinches and Chickadees. The flowers begin to appear in early June and last until September. Coreopsis grows best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. The plant will grow in average to poor soil but best in soils rich in organic matter such as compost and animal manure. The one requirement is a well -drained soil, as wet soil will quickly destroy the plant. Cultivate the soil around the plant in the fall so seeds not eaten can drop to the ground and start new plants in the spring. The flowers come in clusters on long stems and it makes a great cut flower that will help to soften larger flowers in summer bouquet. You can work the plants in meadow plantings, mass plantings, as edging and mix borders. When in bloom it will attract butterflies and don't forget they attract birds during the fall and winter. Feed in the spring to encourage branching and more blooms.
If you have a shade garden and are looking for plants that once established in the garden, needs little to no care then consider the Hosta family? The Hosta is grown for its foliage and some of us even like the flowers. The leaves appear in late spring through fall. The flowers develop late summer on tall stalks from the center of the whirled foliage and they are narrow lily like. The foliage can be heart-shaped, Lance-shaped or oval. The leaf edge can be smooth or wavy and often looks puckered or quilted. The leaf color comes in all shades of green, some shades of blue, and many variegated white or yellow forms. Hosta will grow best in a conditioned soil that is rich in organic matter such as compost and animal manure. Soils that are well drained will allow quick root development and new shoots will develop faster. These plants will also grow in full sun as long as you water regularly. Heavy shade is tolerated but plants will be less vigorous and grow more slowly. Light shade is best and the foliage will be thick and beautiful. Plants grow 10 inches to 3 feet tall and spread to as much a 4 feet wide. Use plants in borders, as a wonderful ground cover, edging around the house and as a specimen plant in a rock garden. When used in a woodland garden it brings all the other plants to life with its colorful foliage and flowers. As a bonus the flowers will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
When I am asked to select a few perennials that are easy to grow and almost a sure thing for new gardeners, I always start with Daylilies. Daylilies grow almost anywhere in partial shade, but prefer sun most of the day. When planting, condition the soil with peat moss, animal manure and compost to create a healthy soil. The better the soil, the larger the plant will grow and that means many more flowers for you during the summer. If your soil is heavy or contains clay, be sure to add extra compost and some coarse sand to the planting area. Standing water will rot the root system and kill the plant. The foliage resembles a dense clump of long grass like leaves that arch down, creating a very attractive plant even without the flowers. The foliage will grow 10 to 36 inches tall and has few insect or disease problems. The plant blooms in the summer for 4 weeks or more and your garden will be filled with non-stop color. Daylilies come in every color of the rainbow including hundreds of different shades of lavender, pink, purple, red, pink, salmon, yellow and hundreds of duel color combination. The flowers are funnel shape and develop on tall stems lifting them above the foliage. This perennial is wonderful when planted in rock gardens, wall gardens, on sloping ground and along fences. The daylilies will attract butterflies to your garden as well as hummingbirds. The flowers are also self -cleaning and fall from the stems as they fade. Plants will do very well even when planted in traffic islands or areas that get little to no care.
Asclepia Tuberosa-Butterfly weed
A benefit of growing perennial flowers is the arrival of butterflies to the garden. Sitting on your deck, patio or porch enjoying the beautiful flowers in the garden is very relaxing. Now add a few brightly colored butterflies flickering from flower to flower and all the work and planning of this garden is worth the work. The best perennial for attracting butterflies to your garden is the Butterfly weed plant. The plant produces endless flowers in colors of orange, pink, red, and white that are filled with nectar. The nectar will draw these beautiful creatures to your garden all day long and at night invite moths to join in on the fun. This perennial has unusual handsome foliage that grows in a clump with upward growing branches. The stems are thick and the foliage is leathery, shiny and smooth. When any part of the plant is broken, a milky white sap will flow and quickly seal the break. The flowers come in clusters on long stems and each blossom is star-shaped. Seedpods are special because they are filled with hundreds of seed attached to a silky looking parachute that moves the seed from your garden to open patches of soil. The flowers bloom for about 6 weeks and this beautiful plant will grow 2 feet tall and just as wide. Plants grow best in a full sun location or light shade. Butterfly weed will grow in most soils but prefer a soil conditioned with compost and animal manure before planting. The better the soil, the bigger the plant will be and that means more flowers. Plant in a meadow garden, mixed borders, rock garden, cut flower garden or specimen plant near a garden pool.
Growing perennials in the shade or flowers in general in the shade is not easy. The one perennial that will do quite well for you in the shade and it is called the Astilbe. The Astilbe will grow well in the full sun to shade as long as your soil are rich in organic matter to retain moisture during the hot days of summer. The plant produces a flower that resembles a feathery plume in many colors such as white, pink, purple and red. The flowers grow 1 to 3 feet tall and will flower for 4 to 6 weeks long during June, July and August. As a cut flower the flower will last a week or more easily. The plant will spread 1 to 3 feet wide and if you want the best show of color plant them in a grouping of 3 to 5 plants. This plant does not need staking and will thrive with neglect. When the weather gets dry the plant may brown up a bit along the edges of the leaves but it will return like new next year.
Selecting plants for the rock garden or the front of a perennial border can be a real challenge. Here is a long blooming perennial that will flower most of the summer usually in shades of orange, pink, red, yellow and white. The Potentilla has evergreen foliage and a flower that resembles a strawberry flower with five-petals. The plant has a mounding habit growing 1 to 2 feet tall that is usually covered with flowers all summer. Its cousin the shrub type Potentilla is more popular but the red flowering perennial type is a real standout when in bloom. Potentilla loves a soil that has been condition with compost and animal manure. Plant in sunny to partial shade location and if the climate has cool weather during the summer it will thrive. If your climate has hot summer weather be sure to plant in partial shade during the heat of the day. After the first heavy flowering in early summer cut the plant back and it will flower all over again. No major insect or disease problems. Fertilize monthly for the best color with a granular fertilizer.
Summer is a season of exciting flowers with unusual color and one of the best is the Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily. This very hardy perennial grows 3 to 4 feet tall and the flower looks like it is glowing. The flower color ranges from cream, orange, red and yellow and some times the bloom has all these colors on one flower. The flowers start in early summer and last until fall. They grow best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. They also love a rich soil containing a lot of compost and manure and is well drained. Plants do not like to be moved but if you must make sure it is in the early spring. There is no serious insects or diseases problem with this beautiful flower. The main problem is wet feet and it may likely rot away in heavy clay like soils. When happy with location and soil it will grow quickly and provide you with many beautiful flowers during the summer. I have this one in my garden and it does well in Maine so it is winter hardy.
How would you like a perennial that flowers in the summer and has decorative seedpods in the fall? My answer is yes and the plant is called Iris Foetidissima or Stinging Iris. The flowers come in the spring and are yellow or purple in color. This is followed by a seedpod that splits open in the fall to reveal beautiful scarlet or orange seeds. The plant will grow to 18 to 24 inches tall and spread 18 inches wide. If you do not harvest the beautiful seedpod it will remain decorative throughout the winter. The long stems make it easy to use in dried flower arrangements. They will grow most anywhere including in a dry shade area under tall trees. In the fall pick some of the pods and break apart the seeds to plant in your garden to start new plants. Your soil should be rich in compost and animal manure when planting. Keep wet until the ground freezes over and spread a little mulch around the plants or on top of the seeds.
The first perennial I grew is called Coral Bells and I still love its delicate flowers on long stems. The tiny flowers resemble a bell and the hummingbirds love it. The foliage stays low in a mound 6 to 8 inches tall but the flower stems grow to 18 to 24 inches tall. The flowers appear in late spring and last for 6 to 8 weeks on the plant and 2 weeks or more in a vase of water. Coral Bells love a cool spot in your garden. They will thrive in full sun to partial shade and make a great woodsy plant. They will not do well in heavy soil so be sure to mix large quantities of compost and manure when planting. The foliage is heart-shaped, evergreen and beautiful, a real plus. The plant has few insect or disease problems and is trouble free. Coral Bells make the perfect perennial for the beginner or expert gardener. The flower colors are red, pink and white, a must.
Liatris-Blazing Star white
July and August are months that are sit back and enjoy the garden and this is possible if you did all your spring work as needed but some times it difficult. The perennial Liatris "Blazing Star" white is a very useful plant that comes into bloom 'without 'your help or care. It's actually a bulb that will spread rapidly if you have good soil and feed the regularly. Each bulb can make five new bulbs in just 3 years. The Liatris is often confused with the Loosestrife plant that chokes our wetlands every summer. This plant is safe to grow in your garden and not evasive. The Liatris is a rugged winter hardy plant that will do well in full sun to partial shade. The flowers develop on long thick stems that are covered with hundreds of buds that open slowly from top to bottom over several weeks. The flowers make the stem appear as if they are covered with a soft cottony material. The plant will attract butterflies all the time its in bloom and it makes a wonderful cut flower. Plant the bulbs or a starter plant in the spring is recommended. The richer your soil the better and larger the flower spikes will be.
When spring arrives the one plant that announces to me: "that spring is here" "that spring is here" is the "Bleeding Heart". If you're looking for elegance in your perennial garden, a plant that is spectacular, look no further than the "Bleeding Heart". This plant is necessary for the shady garden but it will do well with half a day of sun. The foliage softens such shade plants as hosta and daylilies making a beautiful combination. The flowers appear on long curved stems that contain 12 or more flowers each. The bloom resembles a tiny heart that breaks open at the bottom to reveal a tear like petal. The pink variety has a white tear. The plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall and flourishes best in a rich fertile soil and lives longer especially in cool climates. The Bleeding Heart forms a clump that expands quickly and the clump can be divided after the third season. You must have this plant somewhere on your property.
"Lily of the Valley"
If you have a woodsy or natural garden, you must plant the "Lily of the Valley" this spring. This perennial spreads quickly and its tiny bell like flowers will excite any gardener. The plant grows 6 to 8 inches tall and the flowers come from the center of the plant on a tall rigid stem. Each flower stem contains 10 to 12 flowers that last for 2 to 3 weeks outside or 10 days + as a cut flower. The flowers are fragrant and as it fades it makes a seed pod full of seed that disperses them as they mature to spread in your garden. The "Lily of the Valley" makes a good ground cover under tall trees because they grow best in a rich soil with many leaf mold/humus. Plants flower only when they are 2 years old, so you may not have flowers the first year. Plants also force easily during the winter when potted in the fall. If you have shade, this plant is necessary.
Gardening in the shade can be difficult if you don't know your plants, there is one plant you should know and it is called Solomon's Seal. The plant is graceful, erect, and its arching stems carry clusters of bell shaped flowers. The flower is creamy white with a green tip and as the buds open one at a time, the green color is kept on the inside of the bell shaped flower. Groups of flower buds develop where the leaf is attached to the stem and flowers hang down. Sometimes the plant will make seeds that resemble blue-black berries during the summer. If your soil is rich in humus or organic matter, it will spread with underground stems called rhizomes. It will grow best in full to partial shade and most of us have a spot like that on our property. I like this plant and I am sure you will also because it's easy to grow and has no bugs or disease problems. Solomon's Seal will flower in the late spring and bloom for several weeks. It also makes a unique cut flower for your table.
A wonderful and easy to care for perennial is the Echinacea "White Swan", a white coneflower and this perennial blooms from late spring to fall. The flowers rise up on long stems making it ideal, as a cut flower and the blooms are very showy and long lasting. The petals are one to 1\2 inches long and creamy white in color the center of the flower resembles a cone edged in yellow. Once the petals fall, the cone remains on the plant until the winter, and the cone is black in color, very unusual looking. The plant is very hardy and so it is a must for the beginner gardener. The plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall and grows as wide. The plant does best in a sandy soil but grows anywhere and it is very drought tolerant. The large daisy like flowers attracts butterflies and hummingbirds in the summer and birds during the winter for their seeds. The Coneflower loves the heat and the sun and will out last most plants during drought periods.