Alchemilla alpina

Our friend Anna Kulgren shared this handy and pretty little perennial ground cover with us. Palmate grass green foliage is lined in fine silver fur- very pretty for this hardy deciduous plant. In spring clusters of chartreuse flowers foam above the plant. Full sun and rich, well drained soil. To just several inches high (if that) it spreads happily to several feet wide. Just aggressive enough to  out compete weeds.This would be a great low plant between pavers. Also, at the foot of borders or  along paths. Simple, easy to grow plant.

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Allium caeruleum ‘Heacock Form’

Probably one of our very favorite bulbs and a gift from a friend w/ VERY good taste and I’m happy to say we are going to have a steady supply in the future. For the moment quantities are limited. Why so special? This is the enormously huge version of that precious blue allium caeruleum. Flower size on the species which is very available are comparable to a nickel to a quarter size. This form cranks it up w/ flowerheads the size of golf balls and larger. Spectacular. This very rare form is so superior and still charming that I’ve put it all over my garden. It needs full sun and rich soil that drains. Not difficult by any stretch- though full sun is required. and I suspect more water than I give mine. I put one in then 3, then like 9 and I had to stop myself. Sky blue orbs. This plant needs to build up some bulk to bloom, which means you need a certain amount of leaves and bulb heft for them to bloom. I say this because its possible to sell them out of bloom because they are that freaking cool. <pant, pant> Semi evergreen leaves are low, thin and pungent. Possibly deer resistant- I don’t know yet. And bunnies. Well, Bunnies suck.

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Allium schoenoprasm

Chives! Everyone needs these easy to grow, long-blooming, edible perennials in their garden. Late spring brings stems clad in rich lavender/purple flowers that are spicy and wonderful in salads. Cut back at any time and a new crop of tasty leaves will appear. To 18″ tall and forming clumps. Full sun and virtually any soil with consistent summer water. Moderate deer resistance. Often seeds around. These are easy to identify and dispatch or share with friends. A first-rate flowering border perennial as well. Winter deciduous.

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Aloe striatula

We’ve grown a lot of Aloes with purported cold and wet hardiness and this is the one that has been the most successful. A large succulent shrubby plant with rosettes of deep green succulent foliage. In late summer to autumn a showy display of large yellow flower spikes can occur. Very pretty and loved by all nectar seeking folks. Give this South African perennial VERY GOOD DRAINAGE in full sun and a warm position.  A slope is always helpful. Amend the soil with plenty of gravel and sand as well as compost- these guys do need to eat- so a little handful of organic fertilizer is recommended. Capable of freezing to the ground (below 15ºF) and resprouting from the base when truly warm weather arrives. Plant on a south or west facing slope preferably against a warm wall or boulder for added reflected heat. Easy, if large, container plant that you should protect from temperatures in the teens. To 3′ x 3′ on average in our climate. Mostly evergreen here. Combine with Agave, Cactus which will also increase their growth rate if you provide light, consistent water during hot weather.

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Alstroemeria ‘The Third Harmonic’

A good Alstro is hard to find. The dwarf varieties are ever plagued by snails/slugs, Many of the most exquisite varieties (patented) are poor garden performers, lacking vigor or something. Enter this most fave cultivar. First of all its orange and many will confuse it with the more diminutively flowering A. aurantiacus which can become an ineradicable weed. THIS IS NOT THAT. Its a polite clumper with enough vigor to send up fully 30″ flowering stems repeatedly for up to 6 weeks in summer. Speaking of which the individual flower will last up to two weeks in a vase. Do not cut them (which injures the plant – it bleeds out) rather gently rock the base of the stem back and forth to detach. This will help and not hurt it. Regular summer irrigation in rich, moisture retentive soil. Winter deciduous. To 2′ wide..

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Amsonia hubrichtii

Threadleaf Bluestar is a fantastic native North American perennial with many seasons of interest. To 4′ tall this strongly clump-forming perennial has thread-like green leaves that line the sturdy, very vertical stems. Upon rising in late spring they host clusters of star shaped, fragrant (yep) blue flowers. Very pretty. The green, fine-textured foliage holds space as a blowsy presence in borders, gravel gardens, hellstrips. In autumn the entire plant turns shocking yellow and stays that way for weeks. Fall color at ground level and it rocks. Light but consistent summer water to aid in establishment. Very drought tolerant then. Full sun in any soil type but for permanently boggy. Good deer resistance. They will try it once but not again- for what it’s worth. Completely deciduous in winter.  Emerges mid-spring. Very long lived, no-fuss perennial. Mix with ornamental grasses, cacti, just about anything.

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Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore’

Alkanet, Italian Bugloss- neither name is very appealing but I’m here to testify that if you are a connoisseur of the color blue this big showy perennial is for you. To 4′ tall multiple spikes bear rich, deep, true blue flowers in one bodacious cloud. This form is not only a superior blue, but its a more reliable perennial. Most live 2-3 years but this often persists for longer. This borage forms a basal rosette of rough leaves- this is important to identify the inevitable seedlings- they are dark, dark green and spiny. Blooms first year from seed. A Spectacular plant for a young garden, a dry garden, wild border or in its most classic home the cottage garden. Full sun and average to enriched soil that drains quickly. Light consistent water to establish then drought adapted. Long, long blooming plant that often has bumble bees fast asleep in the cup shaped flowers. Very cool. Obvious pollinator gem. Very climate adapted plant.

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Anemanthele lessoniana

Pheasant Tail Grass is a clumping large arching grass with colorful surprises throughout the year. To 30″ tall and a little wider the army green arching foliage takes on dramatic orange and red tints if given just a little stress. In summer fine tawny orange/brown glossy seedheads arch gracefully within the foliage. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil with consistent summer moisture- a little dryness and wham! You get those fiery tints. Requires a protected location in gardens, avoid full on exposure and cold winds. Its best application though is as a large graceful container subject. And the drainage adds to cold hardiness. Remove seedheads before they mature as it does like to seed around. Mulch for arctic weather. Moderate deer resistance. New Zealand.

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Anemone nemorosa ‘Alba Plena’

Excellently climate adapted, there are many forms of Anemone nemorosa but this is by far our favorite. Pure white flowers with a congested bunch of petals in the center. Natures pin cushion. Blooms late March to early May. Spreads  to form large colonies in rich well-drained soil with ample irrigation. The whole plant goes completely dormant by summer, cleanly disappearing before you have time to notice it. Part shade to full sun. Not bothered by pests or animals. Even though it goes summer dormant it’s still beneficial for these plants to receive regular water. You’ll notice the difference the following spring.

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Anemone x lipsiensis

Delicate in appearance but actually pretty tough and long lived, this pale yellow-flowered Anemone spreads to form large colonies. To 5″ tall and blooming from March to April. Remains in bloom for several weeks. Rich, well drained soil that retains moisture. Goes completely dormant by the arrival of hot weather- still keep watering – Anemones appreciate that even though they are fast asleep. Very pretty as a color echo with golden foliage such as the acid yellow emerging foliage of Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass).

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