Top Perennials Part 2 (of many)

Garden Tours are beneficial for many reasons but my favourites are that you get to (legally) snoop in a stranger's garden and you usually pick up the names of some wonderful new plants to try!

This was how I discovered Dictamnus albus. My friend and I saw it for the very first time on a Toronto garden tour. We asked the volunteer if she knew what it was and she said it was a Gas Plant. Weird name, we thought.

Here's what Heritage Perennials says about it:

"...Not often seen in gardens, the Gas Plant is slow to establish, but very long lived. Plants form a bushy, upright clump of lemon-scented, glossy green leaves. Spikes of spidery-looking white flowers appear in early summer, rather showy in effect, and worthwhile for cutting. On still days a match held below the spike will ignite a burst of methane gas. Attractive to butterflies. Clumps resent being disturbed, once established."

It's true that it takes a while for them to grow tall and strong but once there, they never disappear. I have had mine for over 20 years. It's a lovely plant and I look forward to seeing it come up every June near my arbour.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost' was a plant I coveted when it first became popular. All the nurseries charged an exorbitant fee for a small 4" pot of 'Jack Frost' when garden columnists and garden magazines described it as THE plant to buy that year! So I waited and waited and finally purchased it last year, whereas many of my gardening friends have had it forever. It is a beauty with its variegated leaves and Forget-Me-Not type blue flowers.

Again I quote from Heritage Perennials

"...A superb introduction, forming a clump of heart-shaped silver leaves, delicately veined with mint green. Sprays of bright blue Forget-me-not flowers appear in mid to late spring. This is a choice collector's plant, but an easy-to-grow perennial that performs well in all but the driest of shady conditions. Excellent for the woodland garden. ‘Jack Frost’ handles more direct sun that most other variegated types of Brunnera, though in hot-summer regions some afternoon shade is recommended to prevent leaf scorch. Selected as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association."

Another favourite that comes up beautifully year after year is Platycodon grandiflorus the Balloon Flower. They show up late so I have to be careful not to plant an annual on top of them! But I know now exactly where they are.

Last year they bloomed and bloomed for over 6 weeks. I guess they like their partially shady location. Before they bloom, they look like balloons about to pop. And when they open, they are such an intense shade of purple/blue!

Heritage Perennials says:

"...Balloon Flowers are summer-blooming cousins to the more familiar Bellflowers. Plants form a mound of green foliage, bearing inflated buds that open into star-shaped violet-blue blossoms. This medium-height selection is great for the border, or in mixed containers. Especially good for cutting. Because they come up very late in the spring, consider planting tulips or daffodils beside the clump to mark the location. Division is seldom necessary, and not always very successful because of the carrot-like root."

My one and only small complaint about Balloon flowers is that they need to be staked. But that's a very small complaint.

If you add these three plants to your garden this summer, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!