perennial of the week


Unlike any other plant in the garden, Achillea millefolium (a-KIL-lee-uh mill-ee-FOH-lee-um), or yarrow, of the Aster family, Asteraceae, is an excellent plant for introducing reliable, long-lasting color and natural texture into sunny spaces.

Native to temperate regions of Asia and Europe and naturalized in North America, Achillea, named for Achilles who is said to have carried the plant to treat the wounds of his army, is a rugged plant, tolerant of poor soils, road salt, and drought, and resistant to deer and rabbit feeding...

 

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Often overlooked, the humble late summer shade garden provides some of the most beautiful late season color, with many of its best and boldest bloomers just beginning their show on the doorstep of fall. One of the best shady accents, Actaea simplex (ak-TEE-uh SIM-plecks), also known as bugbane or black cohosh, was temporarily reclassified as Cimicifuga simplex before recent findings confirmed Carl Linnaeus’ original assertion made in 1753, renaming the species to Actaea simplex once again. Belonging to the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, the many dark-leaved bugbane cultivars are also often referred to as the Atropurpurea, or “dark purple” group of A. simplex...

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Exploding in a sea of light purple-blue blooms buzzing with delighted pollinators all season long, Agastache foeniculum (ah-GAH-sta-kee fin-ICK-yoo-lum), commonly known as anise hyssop, is a versatile Minnesota native plant well-suited for the home landscape. A member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, anise hyssop produces upright square stems and aromatic, anise-scented foliage, maturing to an incredibly lush upright mound of foliage of up to 48” tall and 24-36” wide, spreading gently by rhizome to form attractive clusters in the landscape...

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A standout garden staple spanning countless generations of gardeners, Alcea rosea (al-SEE-ah RO-see-ah), or hollyhock, formerly Althaea, is an iconic landscape standout with a commanding presence in the landscape. Belonging to the mallow family, Malvaceae, hollyhock have been cultivated since at least the 15th century, with their true nativity unknown, believed to have been first imported to Europe from China, and ultimately seen as a cultigen—a plant species or variety known only in cultivation, especially one with no known wild ancestor—though likely originating from Turkey...

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Attractive to birds while adding three-season interest to the garden Amelanchier, commonly known as Serviceberry or Juneberry, never fails to delight. This member of the rose family, Rosaceae, captivates with fragrant flowers in the spring followed by delicious berries in late May or early June and stunning hues of yellows and oranges in the fall...

 

 

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Tidy, colorful, and uniquely fragrant, Allium (AL-ee-um) species, or ornamental onion, are stunning mid-season bloomers that shine in low sunny borders or edging, cottage gardens, and other sunny garden spaces. Especially impactful when planted in large groupings, ornamental onion’s appeal expands beyond perennial beds, serving as a wonderful addition to annual container arrangements and great as either fresh or dried cut flowers as well.

Belonging to the Amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae, Allium is a massive genus of well over 500 species native across temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, distinguished by their true bulbs and onion or garlic aroma and flavor, imparted by the production of...

 

 

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Perfect for transitioning spring gardens into the heat of summer, Amsonia, or bluestar, of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, is a prolific bloomer offering multi-season interest, ideal for sunny borders, cottage gardens, and woodland gardens, and stunning when used in mass plantings.

Native to open woods and moist meadows across central and eastern North America, bluestar is a hardy, low maintenance perennial, tolerant of a range of site conditions. Most ornamental Amsonia varieties are cultivars of Amsonia tabernaemontana (Am-SO-nee-ah tab-er-nay-mon-TAY-nah), commonly known as willow, eastern, or woodland bluestar...

 

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Whether ushering in the early summer months or sprucing up any tired summer display with their refreshing late season color, Anemone (uh-NEM-oh-nee) is a vast grouping of plants sure to brighten up the landscape. Native to temperate and subtropical regions of all continents except Oceania and Antarctica, Anemone, or windflower, of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, offer a variety of appearances in the garden, including Snowdrop Anemone, Japanese Anemone, and the North American native, Canada Anemone...

 

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As perennial garden beds begin to wake up and glow with early season color, spring bloomers are a sure sign that spring is here, and summer is not far behind. A staple spring appearance, Aquilegia (a-kwi-LEE-jee-a), or Columbine, is a delicate yet showy bloomer with complex flowers of many shapes and colors. There are numerous species and cultivars of Aquilegia, native to many areas of Europe and North America, including Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine, with...

 

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If you're looking for a bold, dramatic plant for your shade garden, Aralia cordata, commonly known as Japanese Spikenard, will thrill even the most seasoned gardener. Named the 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association, this member of the Araliaceae plant family sports glowing chartreuse foliage easily reaching 3-4 ft tall each season creating a stunning statement in your landscape...

 

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Artemisia offers excellent season-long color and texture to bring designs together and provide contrast amongst blooming companions, creating excellent foliage interest in the landscape. Belonging to the Aster family, Asteraceae, Artemisia, also known as wormwood, is a large and diverse genus of around 300 species, largely prized for their foliage.

Native to Japan, Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ (ar-te-MIZ-ee-uh shmit-ee-AH-nuh), is a fast-growing perennial, producing a dense mat of fine-textured and slightly hairy aromatic silver foliage. Reaching around a foot tall and spreading to form clumps upwards of two feet wide, ‘Silver Mound’ looks its best when...

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Aruncus dioicus (ah-RUN-kus dye-oh-EE-kus), or goatsbeard, is an impactful perennial able to thrive in a wide array of conditions, not to be confused with Astilbe. Goatsbeard, of the rose family, Rosaceae, is native to deciduous woodlands of eastern and central North America including Minnesota’s neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as western Europe and southeastern Asia in the case of the dwarf species.

Despite its large, shrubby appearance, goatsbeard is an herbaceous perennial, slowly spreading by rhizomes to form lush clumps of pinnately compound leaves, each composed of twenty or more toothed leaflets. Aruncus is...

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Asclepias (as-KLE-pee-us), or milkweed, belong to the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, and are largely native to North America including Minnesota. Masters of evolutionary adaptation, Asclepias are perfect for adding native vibrance to your home landscape, unbothered by deer or rabbits because of their namesake white latex sap.

Swamp milkweed, A. incarnata, is an upright species reaching 48-60” tall with lance-like opposite leaves and bright pink blooms, thriving in wetland areas and other consistently moist or wet full sun sites...

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Mild weather, back-to-school shopping, and abundant garden harvests are here, leading the way into the beautiful fall months ahead and signaling that some of the most anticipated late season perennial color is just about to pop in the garden. One of the best late season perennials sure to excite even the most hesitant of fall skeptics, Asters are phenomenal for providing long-lasting color to refresh late summer beds and act as the perfect complement for fall displays.

Commonly referred to as Asters, despite their reclassification as Symphyotrichum (sim-fy-oh-TRY-kum), Asters are...

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Among the classic shady regulars, Astilbe (a-STIL-bee) stands out from the crowd, providing a dramatic show of bright plumes to brighten up shady and sunny spots alike. Astilbe, of the Saxifrage family, Saxifragaceae, is a stunning and durable late spring to mid-summer blooming perennial, resistant to deer and rabbit feeding and tolerant of both road salt and juglone, produced by black walnut and hickory trees. Also known as false goatsbeard, Astilbe is native to regions of...

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As the snow finally melts away, fall-planted bulbs and spring ephemerals breathe new life into the outdoors, ushering in the fresh spring air. Alongside their gentle presence emerges one of the greatest flowering displays of the year, a magnificent show of color put on by Azalea and Rhododendron shrubs.

Azalea (uh-ZAY-lee-uh), in the heather family, Ericaceae, also of the genus Rhododendron, are highly hybridized spring-blooming deciduous shrubs, originally native to parts of Asia, Europe, and North America, and growing to four to five feet round. Flowering from early spring to late spring, Azalea produce...

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Unique perennial standbys can help to liven up traditional perennial beds and set your space apart from the rest, with Baptisia providing robust structure, texture, and multi-season interest in a shrub-like form great for sunny spaces.

Baptisia australis (bap-TIS-ee-uh aw-STRA-liss), also known as false indigo or wild indigo, is named for its historic use as a substitute source of indigo dye (typically sourced from true indigo, Indigofera tinctoria), the genus Baptisia originating from the greek bapto meaning...

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With so many bright blooms, sunny spring gardens get a lot of the attention, however, there is so much possibility and excitement to be had in shadier gardens as well, popping with unique foliage and bright blooms in an eruption of spring beauty all their own. Brunnera macrophylla (BROO-nair-uh mak-roh-FIL-uh), in the borage family, Boraginaceae, also known as False Forget-Me-Not or Siberian Bugloss, in reference to its coarse leaf texture resembling...

 

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Profusely blooming in hues of blues, purples, and pinks, Campanula (kam-PAN-yoo-luh), or bellflower, is a low-growing, salt tolerant, deer and rabbit resistant delight, perfect for adding color to a variety of garden styles including cottage and woodland gardens. Belonging to the bellflower family, Campanulaceae, there are many wonderful Campanula to choose from, not to be confused with the invasive creeping bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides...

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As the mornings feel just a little bit crisper and the sun begins to linger ever so slightly lower in the sky, summer is hinting at its bittersweet departure in the weeks to come—but the season is not over yet, with one last flush of long-anticipated late season perennial color just beginning to show in the garden. Chelone (kay-LOH-nee), or Turtlehead, provides one of the most incredible summer sendoffs, providing countless long-lasting blooms reminiscent of...

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Arguably the most iconic and beloved harbinger of fall, Chrysanthemums are exceptional fall bloomers, blanketed in colorful, long-lasting blooms and right at home alongside hay bales, gourds, and warm apple cider to warm up the crisp fall mornings ahead. While annual garden mums tend to receive the most attention, that same wonderful fall color can be had year after year in the garden with...

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Belonging to the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, Clematis are unmatched in their versatility and beauty, offering a variety of well over 250 species, including the North American native C. virginiana, as well as hundreds of cultivars to appeal to the casual gardener and avid collector alike.

Vining Clematis are categorized by bloom time to help simplify their care, excluding non-vining herbaceous Clematis such as the shrubby C. integrifolia, which dies back to its woody base each winter. While not necessarily required, yearly pruning will promote better blooming performance and healthier...

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A low maintenance, exceptionally hardy garden standout, Coreopsis, of the Aster family, Asteraceae, are bright bloomers perfect for adding lasting color to sunny summer landscapes. A genus of over 75 species, all native to the Americas, Coreopsis, commonly known as tickseed in reference to their small, round seeds, span a wide range of appearances, widely planted in landscapes as one of countless cultivars of either whorled tickseed, Coreopsis verticillata (kor-ee-OP-sis ver-tiss-ih-LAY-tuh), or large-flowered tickseed, Coreopsis grandiflora (kor-ee-OP-sis gran-dih-FLOR-uh)...

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Durable, long-lasting blooms are beginning to make their presence known in thriving perennial beds, ushering in the heat of the summer with their nonstop color. Among the more common shades of pinks, oranges, and more, the less common true-blue color of dramatic Delphinium spikes stand out from the rest, providing wonderful contrast in sunny perennial borders.

Delphinium (del-FIN-ee-um), of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, are native to numerous diverse regions of the northern hemisphere and provide wonderful dimension in the garden with their showstopping...

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A longstanding favorite, Dianthus (dy-AN-thus), or pinks, are long-blooming, salt tolerant, deer and rabbit resistant perennials with excellent foliage interest and fragrance. Belonging to the pinks or carnation family, Caryophyllaceae, Dianthus is a diverse genus of over 300 species and countless cultivars, largely native to Europe and Asia, with some distribution in Africa and North America as well.

Dianthus barbatus, or Sweet William, is a North American biennial commonly found along roadsides and in natural areas including areas of Minnesota...

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As crisp spring air finally arrives here in Minnesota, groggy perennial beds are beginning to come to life for the spring season, with familiar faces providing some much-needed color and greenery in our lives. An irreplaceable shady spring garden classic, Dicentra (Dye-SEN-tra), or bleeding heart, of the poppy family, Papaveraceae, is a timeless perennial offering unique, whimsical heart-shaped blooms along graceful arching stems, above a mound of lush spring foliage...

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There’s nothing quite like the commanding presence of summer perennial blooms, especially the familiar rainbow of blooms of the numerous cultivars of purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea (ek-i-NAY-sha pur-PUR-ee-uh), an important North American native perennial.

Part of the Aster family, Asteraceae, coneflowers are incredibly easy and carefree plants for adding bright color to the garden, requiring little additional care once established. While the purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, is one of the most beloved coneflowers, available in great purple varieties such as ‘Magnus’ and ‘Ruby Star,’ there is a rainbow of color to choose from...

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A standout shady perennial in both its utility and its beauty, Epimedium (ep-i-MEE-di-um), or barrenwort, of the barberry family, Berberidaceae (though unproblematic unlike its barberry relatives), is a phenomenal perennial for difficult dry shady areas of the landscape. Criminally underutilized, barrenwort is excellent for visual appeal and weed control when massed as a shady groundcover or pathway edger, perfect for planting on dry slopes for erosion control, and phenomenal for spring color and sustained animal and disease resistant foliage interest throughout the summer and fall. Epimedium is truly a must-plant perennial for shady borders and woodland gardens...  

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Joe Pye weed is a prolific late season bloomer, offering large blooms and unmatched height and structure in the landscape. Salt tolerant, resistant to deer and rabbit feeding, and a member of the Aster family, Asteraceae, Joe Pye weed, formerly known as Eupatorium, a genus of around 800 species recently revised considering new findings, is now in the closely related genus Eutrochium.

Native to North America including Minnesota, most Joe Pye weed cultivars are derived from spotted Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium maculatum (yoo-TRO-kee-um mak-yuh-LAY-tum). Sweet Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum (yoo-TRO-kee-um pur-PUR-ee-um), is also commonly offered as another great Minnesota native option suited for slightly different site conditions...

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One of the most challenging pursuits of perennial gardening is ensuring that there is always something to provide interest throughout the year. With our brutal Minnesota winters, sustaining frigid temperatures and feet of snow for nearly half of the year, winter interest is often overlooked, yet is exceptionally important. Evergreens not only provide wonderful winter interest in stark contrast to mountains of snow and dormant plants, but also can act as great points of interest and anchors for your garden...

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Revealing fragrant, bottlebrush shaped, white blooms and providing magnificent fall color, Fothergilla, Witch Alder reigns as a landscape must have. Fothergilla, a member of the witch-hazel family (Hamamelidaceae) can be used as a specimen plant or an informal hedge with three season interest...

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One of the most widely recognized residents of shady perennial beds, woodland gardens, and natural areas, ferns are fascinating perennials unlike any other, thriving as shady groundcovers and background plantings and providing unmatched foliage interest throughout the season. Though simply a basic leafy green plant to some, ferns not only offer a wide variety of appearances, including many great Minnesota native options, but they also have a lot more botanical magic going on than one might expect...

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Not to be confused with the unrelated annual Geranium, Pelargonium x hortorum, hardy Geranium, of the Geranium family, Geraniaceae, known also as cranesbill, are beautiful problem-solving perennials tolerant of a wide range of site conditions, with well over 400 species and countless cultivars available.

Common cultivars are derived from numerous species, largely native to regions of Europe and Asia, including G. sanguineum, or bloody crane’s bill, in reference to their brilliant red fall color, and G. macrorrhizum, known as...

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One of the first perennials to emerge in the spring, Geum (JEE-um), commonly known as avens, is a distinctly charming harbinger of spring in natural areas and sunny landscapes. Belonging to the rose family, Rosaceae, Geum is a close relative of strawberries, with around fifty species distributed worldwide, including the Minnesota native Geum triflorum, also known as prairie smoke.

Native across North America, prairie smoke is quick to rise in the spring, forming low basal rosettes of pinnately divided, fern-like, fuzzy (tomentose) green leaves up to eight inches long that later take on rich red or purple fall color...

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Casting colorful blooms in early spring, Helleborus x hybridus, commonly called Lenten Rose or Hellebore, heralding spring with their 3-4”, rose-like, cupped, nodding flowers in pinks, purples, whites, yellows, and reds. Helleborus is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Hellebores thrive in rich, humic, well-drained soil, but can adapt to almost any growing condition in part or full shade...

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Grasses, all belonging to the grasses family, Poaceae, are a fantastic way to provide relief and variation in the landscape, serving as plants that can stand alone as focal points or accents dotted in the landscape, or massed together as a dynamic backdrop to highlight specimen plants or provide animal resistant contrast near colorful blooms in the garden. Grasses are exceptionally versatile perennials that offer a myriad of textures, colors, and habits, as well as...

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A cheery midsummer classic and perennial collector’s dream, Hemerocallis (hem-er-oh-KAL-iss), or daylily, are exceptional summer bloomers offering endless variety with thousands of hybrids available. While not true lilies, daylilies, of the subfamily Hemerocallidoideae, do produce similarly showy blooms, with their flowers typically lasting about a day, opening in the early morning, and withering the following evening as their name suggests. Native to areas of China, Japan, Korea, and eastern Russia, daylilies...

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Perennial gardening in the heat of summer is a breeze for the brightest of prairie gardens and the driest of rock gardens, the hot summer sun providing an ideal environment for some of the best and brightest perennial flowers nature has to offer. As many gardeners know all too well, especially here in the woods of Minnetonka, Minnesota, it can be more challenging to keep shadier gardens looking bright and colorful throughout the year, but it is far from impossible. One of our favorite plants to brighten up even the darkest of shade gardens, providing...

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Hibiscus, of the mallow family, Malvaceae, are some of the most impressive summer tropical plants, boasting massive colorful blooms and wonderful aromas perfect for sunny summer patios, though these Hibiscus surely do not get along well with our Minnesota winters. While it is hard to imagine a plant anywhere near as stunning that could survive through thirty below temps and blizzard conditions, you may be surprised (and delighted!) to learn there are perennial hibiscus hardy for right here in Minnesota! Hardy Hibiscus are...

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A longstanding and familiar favorite, Hosta (HOSS-tuh), or plantain lily, of the Asparagus family, Asaparagaceae, offer an unrivaled variety of appearances fit for almost any garden, with over 6,000 named varieties in cultivation and more developed each year. Hosta are excellent low maintenance, reliable growers, thriving in part to full shade gardens and preferring slightly acidic, well-drained, rich soil. However, Hosta are also very durable plants, tolerating a range of soil conditions including difficult...

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There is a style of gardening for everyone, from vegetable gardening to pollinator gardening, some prioritizing delicious fruits and veggies and others aiming to display as many lovely flowers as possible…but why choose? Many edible crops can also serve as accents or even focal points in flower gardens, providing both beautiful form and function for humans and pollinators alike. Humulus lupulus (hew-mew-luss lew-pew-luss), more commonly known as hops, are not only a tremendous addition to a crisp IPA or amber ale, but are also a beautiful perennial option for any flower or vegetable garden, and are even native to Minnesota...so let’s hop to it...

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With their showstopping blooms and classic shape, hydrangeas are a timeless staple fit for any garden, shining as specimen plants or beautiful flowering hedges when massed in both formal and informal garden designs. Native to China, Korea, Japan, as well as North America, Hydrangea are commonly available in cultivars of three species—the bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, the panicle or hardy hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata, and the smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens...

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Spring is in the air, with perennial gardens beginning to burst with color from both unusual plants and classic garden staples alike. Iris (eye-riss), of the Iris family, Iridaceae, are known for their striking and unusual flattened, sword-like fan of animal resistant leaves, offering a variety of species and appearances for nearly any space. Iris grow either from bulbs or from rhizomes, however all perennial varieties offered at Tonkadale are rhizomatous, including bearded, Siberian, northern blue flag, and sweet or zebra Iris...

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With hot summer days and an abundance of sunshine, gardens are in peak season form, exploding with the vibrant blooms of exciting new plants alongside standout garden staples such as the Shasta daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum (lew-KANTH-ih-mum suh-PER-bum). Named for the snow-covered peaks of California’s Mount Shasta, the Shasta daisy is a beloved hybrid developed near Mount Shasta by Luther Burbank in the 1890s, created by first crossing European oxeye daisy, L. vulgare, with Pyrenees or Max Chrysanthemum, L. maximum. The resulting hybrid was then...

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Blazing temperatures, bustling pollinators, and emerging summer blooms are sure signs that the hot months of summer are here and with them, the arrival of an expansive new array of summer color in the garden. Among other carefree, usual suspects brightening up gardens and making their presence known, Liatris spicata (ly-AT-riss spi-KAH-tuh) sets itself apart from the rest, blooming a breathtaking spire of color beloved by pollinators and gardeners alike...

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When planning a garden, it is important to not only keep bloom color and timing in mind, but also the value of foliage interest in the garden. Ligularia (lig-you-l-AIR-ee-ah) of the Aster family, Asteraceae, also known as ragwort, is an animal resistant, late season shady bloomer with bold foliage interest to help keep your garden looking great all season long. 

Native to parts of China, Russia, and Japan, most cultivated Ligularia are varieties of Ligularia dentata, known as the bigleaf Ligularia, boasting...

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With large, bright, often fragrant blooms fit for borders, backdrops, or massed as a stunning centerpiece, lilies make an impact in the garden. True lilies, of the lily family, Liliaceae, generally prefer areas of full sun, but are tolerant of part sun, performing best with good morning sun and some afternoon shade. Lilies thrive in moist, well-drained soil. Wet soils or excessively hot exposures such as near pavement or foundations should be avoided to prevent bulb rot and shattered, short-lived blooms. A wonderful pop of mid-season color, Lilium (LIL-ee-um) bloom time varies by...

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Charming gardeners and pollinators alike, Lobelia, of the Lobeliaceae family, are a colorful group of over 1,000 species toting gorgeous fan-shaped, tubular blooms beloved by wildlife, especially hummingbirds. Standout specimens in wetlands, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, stream and pond margins, open woodland gardens, and moist sunny borders, Lobelia are native to a range of tropical and temperate regions throughout the world, with key perennial species native to North America including right here in Minnesota...

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A breathtaking late spring perennial, Lupinus (loo-PY-nus) or Lupine (loo-pin), of the legume or pea family, Fabaceae, is a showy bloomer that steals the show as it welcomes the many summer blooms to come. As the name Lupine suggests, their flowers were once believed to deplete all nutrients from the soil like a hunting wolf. However, Lupine actually fix nitrogen from the air into the soil as do all members of the legume family, making them an excellent plant for...

 

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As the intense heat of summer continues, mid-season bloomers are flourishing and late summer bloomers are starting to show some color, offering a whole new assortment of bright colors and intoxicating aromas in the summer perennial garden. A common mid-season sight, bee balm, Monarda didyma (mo-NAR-duh DID-ee-muh), is a beautiful eastern North American native perennial and member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, that provides not only bright, beautiful color in the garden, but also fragrant, animal resistant foliage...

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As the intense heat of summer continues, mid-season bloomers are flourishing and late summer bloomers are starting to show some color, offering a whole new assortment of bright colors and intoxicating aromas in the summer perennial garden. A common mid-season sight, bee balm, Monarda didyma (mo-NAR-duh DID-ee-muh), is a beautiful eastern North American native perennial and member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, that provides not only bright, beautiful color in the garden, but also fragrant, animal resistant foliage...

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As the heat of summer approaches, delicate periwinkle blue hues dot the landscape, dancing with an entourage of bumblebees, hummingbirds, and countless other visitors, providing the perfect example of why Nepeta, or catmint, a close relative of catnip, is a Midwest garden staple.

A widespread genus of over 250 species, Nepeta are native to regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and are naturalized in North America. The most beloved cultivars of Nepeta, however, are of the garden hybrid Nepeta x faassenii (NEP-eh-tuh fah-SEN-ee-eye), known somewhat confusingly as...

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As spring continues to rouse slumbering perennials from their winter dormancy, breathing new signs of life into sleepy garden beds and giving way to exciting shades of green, a crowd favorite spring bloomer is about to pop: the peony (pee-uh-nee). Belonging to the peony family, Paeoniaceae, peonies are native to many parts of the world including western and northern North America. Peonies bloom one of the most stunning and most anticipated displays of color, signaling that...

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A phenomenal early summer problem solver, Penstemon hit their stride just as spring gardens begin to wind down and summer blooms are only just emerging, providing abundant, long-lasting, airy sprays of tubular blooms that effortlessly transform garden spaces and usher in the warmer months to come.

Native to eastern North America, including here in Minnesota, Penstemon digitalis (Pen-STEE-mon dij-i-TA-lis), or foxglove beardtongue, is partially named from the Greek “penta” meaning five, and “stemon” meaning stamen, referring to the four fertile and one sterile stamen of each tubular flower in the genus, with their common name beardtongue referring the...

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A breathtaking perennial classic, Russian Sage is a durable and carefree plant perfect for adding structure and lasting late season color in the garden, performing beautifully in tall borders and foundation plantings, and stunning when massed as a shrubby border. Perovskia atriplicifolia (pe-ROF-ski-ah a-tri-pli-si-FO-li-ah), also known as Russian Sage, is a unique semi-woody, deciduous subshrub, producing new herbaceous growth from its perennial woody base each spring and flowering only on new growth, though remaining upright through the winter months for multi-season interest and crown protection...

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Aromatic, abundant blooms engulf the senses as the Philadelphus spp., commonly known as Mock Orange, opens its blossoms in June. A member of the Philadelphaceae plant family, Mock Orange is an excellent choice for providing a hedge or screen as well as a specimen plant in the garden.

Native to Europe, Canada, and the western United States, Mock Orange thrives in a moist, rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil...

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Offering a beautiful diversity of size, color, and habit, Phlox are the perfect problem-solving perennials sure to brighten up even the toughest areas of the garden. Largely native to North America in areas ranging from harsh tundra to woodland and prairie ecosystems, Phlox, of the Jacob’s Ladder family, Polemoniaceae, are wonderfully hardy, abundantly blooming perennial classics. Most commonly used in the landscape are cultivars of the eastern North American native garden Phlox and moss/creeping Phlox, with growing popularity surrounding the Minnesota native...

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A wondrously whimsical perennial, balloon flower is as stunning as it is unique. Platycodon grandiflorus (plat-ee-KO-don gran-dih-FLOR-us), belonging to Campanulaceae, the bellflower family is the only member of the Platycodon genus and is native to eastern Asia including China, Korea, Japan, and eastern Russia. Commonly known as balloon flower, Platycodon grandiflorus is named for its unique swollen flower buds...

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The only thing better than an elegant and bright spring bloomer is one that provides season-long foliage interest long after flowers have faded for the year. Polemonium (po-le-MOH-nee-um), or Jacob’s Ladder, of the Jacob’s Ladder or Phlox family, Polemoniaceae, is a lovely spring-blooming perennial native to eastern North America and Europe, with the native Polemonium reptans found right here in Minnesota.

Two species of Polemonium are typically used in the landscape: the native Polemonium reptans and its cultivars, and Polemonium caeruleum...

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The best garden additions are those that serve many roles in the space and provide multi-season interest, showcasing something new and exciting throughout each month of the growing season. Polygonatum odoratum (Po-lig-oh-NAY-tum oh-DER-ay-tum) is a fantastic hardy addition to any shady space, deriving its common name Solomon’s Seal from the scars left on its rhizomes by the previous year’s growth which resemble a pair of inverted triangles akin to King Solomon’s Seal...

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One of the first perennials to make its presence known in the early spring, Pulmonaria is a phenomenal addition to add season-long interest and beauty to any shade garden. Pulmonaria (pul-muh-NARE-ee-ah) of the borage family, Boraginaceae, also known as lungwort, is an early season shade bloomer providing vibrant early color in shadier gardens, perfect to welcome in the many spring displays yet to come.

Preferring moist, well-drained soils in areas of part sun to shade, lungwort emerges as lush rosettes of coarsely textured, deep green leaves with...

 

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Glowing with bright summer color and unique thimble-like blooms, Ratibida, of the Aster family, Asteraceae, are fantastic Minnesota native perennials that effortlessly transform sunny perennial landscapes with their bright blooms, unique foliage, and airy habit. A genus of seven North American species, there are two Minnesota native Ratibida species: prairie coneflower, Ratibida columnifera (ruh-TIBB-ih-duh kol-um-NEE-fer-uh), and gray-headed or yellow coneflower, Ratibida pinnata (ruh-TIBB-ih-duh pih-NAY-tuh)...

 

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Growing healthy, fresh fruit in gardens has been on trend for centuries. Recently this trend has taken off as many homeowners are choosing to add edible plants to their landscape. One of the easiest fruits to begin with are raspberries and blackberries which bring edible enjoyment with their plump delicious red, yellow, and black berries. Rubus spp. is a member of the Rosaceae family and is native to both North America, Asia, and Europe...

 

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A classic late summer staple of the Aster family, Asteraceae, perennial Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida (rud-BEK-ee-uh FUL-jih-duh), and its many hybrids, is an iconic late season stunner, blooming from late summer into fall, riding out the last weeks of summer and ushering in the cooler weather ahead alongside emergent fall blooms. A common sight in perennial gardens and roadsides alike, Rudbeckia fulgida, native to central and eastern North America, is a beautiful and carefree plant providing abundant color throughout the closing weeks of the summer growing season...

 

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A true garden staple, perennial Salvia blooms are a sure sign that summer is here, offering a versatile pop of color sure to brighten up sunny plantings. Salvia nemorosa (SAL-vee-uh nem-or-OH-suh), with square stems and scented foliage characteristic of the mint family, Lamiaceae, is native to a large span of central Europe and western Asia. Referred to as meadow sage or woodland sage, the species epithet, nemorosa, translates to “of woods” in relation to...

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The pursuit of consistent, lasting color is one of the most enjoyable challenges to tackle in perennial gardening, with carefree, long-lasting bloomers like Scabiosa helping to keep landscapes bursting with color all season long. Belonging to the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, Scabiosa (skab-ee-OH-suh), known as pincushion flower after its mounds of prominent pin-like stamens, is excellent for creating large swaths of persistent color in the garden...

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One of the most diverse perennial plant groups available, Sedum are durable plants offering a wide range of appearances in the garden along with showy late summer blooms sure to please pollinators and gardeners alike. A member of the stonecrop family, Crassulaceae, Sedum (SEE-dum) are hardy succulent perennials, storing additional water and nutrients in their fleshy stems and leaves for exceptional drought tolerance, as well as a standout appearance alongside more traditional herbaceous perennials. While there are nearly endless cultivars available, perennial Sedum are generally grouped by...

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Stachys are a unique grouping of plants that, in addition to their blooms, shine in some lesser discussed aspects of the garden, providing wonderful sensory interest and fantastic texture in the landscape. Belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae, Stachys can generally be divided into the iconic Stachys byzantina (STAK-iss biz-an-TEE-nuh), or lambs’ ears, and betony, debated to be cultivars of either alpine betony, Stachys monieri, or Stachys officinalis, common betony.

Native to Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, lambs’ ears are prized for their silvery white, fur-like foliage, spreading by aboveground stolons, or creeping stems, to form...

 

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One of the most recognizable shrubs for its flowers and their intoxicating fragrance, lilacs are stately shrubs perfect for shaking off the winter grogginess and building excitement for the warmer months to come. Belonging to the olive family, Oleaceae, Syringa (sih-REEN-gah) is a genus of twelve species, native to southeastern Europe and eastern Asia and cultivated in temperate areas worldwide. Ranging from small shrubs to nearly tree-sized in stature, lilacs are commonly available in cultivars of common lilac, dwarf Korean lilac, Korean lilac, Preston lilac, and hybrid reblooming lilacs...

 

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Bringing bright blooms and lasting foliage interest to shadier spaces, Tiarella (tee-uh-RELL-uh), of the Saxifrage family, Saxifragaceae, is a unique genus of seven species, largely native to North America, including the Minnesota native heartleaf foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia. Though their exact lineage and species characteristics are still debated, Tiarella, also known as foamflower, are generally identified by three main characteristics: the presence or absence of stolons, the size and shape of their basal (bottom) leaves, and the presence or absence of stem (cauline) leaves; however...

 

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With countless spires of blooms buzzing with pollinators, Veronica (veh-RON-ih-ka), or speedwell, is a summer garden favorite perfect for adding vertical interest and lasting, deer and rabbit resistant color to sunny spaces. A member of the plantain family, Plantaginaceae, commonly offered Veronica are often cultivars of the Asia and northern Europe native spiked speedwell, Veronica spicata.

Speedwell is perfect for sunny borders, pollinator gardens, and rock gardens among other spaces, producing dense mounds of stiff...

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While there are endless possibilities with herbaceous perennials in the garden, don't forget the important role shrubs can play in providing needed structure and stunning color to the landscape as well. Shrubs are an excellent way to fill space in the garden, draw attention to certain areas, create a backdrop for plantings, help anchor your garden design, or even steal the show themselves. Weigela are an excellent choice for providing color, texture, and size options for almost any situation.

Weigela (why-GEE-la), of the Honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, are deciduous shrubs native to southeastern Asia, touting a range of appearances and prolific blooms that envelop the plant in an explosion of...

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Providing aesthetic charm, supporting pollinators, and adding sweet fragrance to outdoor spaces, Wisteria is a breathtaking flowering vine that’s perfect for arbors, pergolas, and trellises. Belonging to the legume family, Fabaceae, Wisteria is known for its cascading clusters of stunning flowers in blues, whites, and purples.

Native to China, Japan, and the eastern United States, this vine adapts well to most soil types as long as it’s well-draining...

 

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The perfect perennial for gardeners longing for warmer climates and sunnier days, Yucca filamentosa (YUK-uh fil-a-men-TOH-sa), or Adam’s Needle, is an exceptional perennial far from the usual suspects found in midwestern perennial gardens. Belonging to the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, Adam’s Needle is a low maintenance evergreen shrub that thrives in difficult sites where most other perennials would struggle to survive, tolerant of poor soils, drought, and exposure to deicing salts, and resistant to deer and rabbit feeding...

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