Summers in Minnesota are short and cherished, and one of the best parts of it all is the beautiful gardens. Whether strolling through avid gardener’s yards on a tour, visiting the Arboretum, or driving by public and private gardens each day, chances are good you’ve seen (and admired) many of the plants below. These ever-popular perennials are garden staples – and for good reason.

Nepeta

Nepeta faassenii

Nepta faassenii. Photo by Kurt Stüber, Wikimedia Commons

Nepeta, also known as catmint, is a super bee attractant (and feline friends love it, too)! Nepeta is a member of the mint family, so it will spread readily. Let it go wild, contain it with a sidewalk or other hard barrier, or be prepared to divide it. The soft, grey-green leaves and showy lavender-colored flowers contrast beautifully with other plants in the garden.

This is a drought-tolerant, long-blooming plant (May to September), and is very easy to care for. Plant in full to part sun in well-drained soil, and just give it a trim mid-season to promote new blooms.

Tonkadale carries Walker’s Low (which is not that low at 24-30 inches), Little Trudy, and Pursian Blue.

Important to note: Nepeta is not the same as catnip and shouldn’t be used as a substitute.

Heuchera

Coral bells

Coral bells. Photo by University of Illinois Extension.

The varieties of Heuchera are nearly endless, and there is surely one that will complement your landscape.

Depending on the variety, Heuchera can be planted in full sun to full shade, and comes in an astounding variety of colors: pinks and reds, yellows and oranges, light and dark purple, nearly black, and bright lime green, to name a few!

Also known as Coral Bells, the low-growing, handsome foliage sends up spikes with tiny blossoms on top that are highly attractive to hungry hummingbirds. Plant as a showy border or accent plant in well-drained soil. Heuchera do not like to be constantly wet and will rot, making it perfect for drier conditions.

Daisies

Shasta daisies

Shasta daisies. Photo by UMD Extension.

Daisies (or Leucanthemum, botanically speaking), just look like a summer day. These flowers are a cheerful addition to any sunny garden, and are quite easy to grow. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, and provide moderate watering (once a week or more often in drought conditions).

As an added benefit, daisies bloom from summer into fall. To give daisies the best chance to over-winter, cover with straw or marsh hay after the first freeze and remove in spring. Tonkadale carries Becky and Snowcap daisies. Plant some happy – plant daisies!

Blueberries

Blueberries

Blueberries. Photo by UMN Extension.

Mmmmm….blueberries. Excellent fresh, in pies, or over ice cream, blueberries are a favorite summer treat (try them frozen on a hot summer day). These shrubs are easy to grow but do require some care, so be sure to plan carefully before planting.

Blueberry shrubs need acidic soil to live, and this usually means the soil must be amended. A good way to plant blueberries is to mound a hill or build a slightly raised bed. This allows for easier control over the acidity of the soil. However, planting directly in the ground will work, too.

To acidify soil, amend with peat moss and compost upon planting, and apply an acidic fertilizer in early spring and again in late spring (for established shrubs). Well worth the effort, these native shrubs can reward the gardener 30 or more years.

Short summers mean Minnesotans need rewarding, long-season, performers in the garden and landscape. These perennial favorites won’t disappoint!