Perennials win the garden popularity contest, hands down. They come in a potpourri of bloom times, plant sizes, leaf textures, and flower colors, so there's a perennial to please every gardener.
Best of all, perennials stage an Oscar-worthy garden performance that improves year after year. To get started on your own perennial paradise, see how we transformed turf into troops of blossoms.
Perennials are an affordable floral luxury that can be grown in any size garden, from the tiniest side yard to the longest border. For this article, we created a perennial garden in a 13- by 24-foot raised bed edged with a stone wall. The garden juts out into what was one large grassy area, creating a blooming focal point in the backyard lawn.
Unlike their here-today-gone-tomorrow annual flower cousins, perennials paint the garden with hues that grow richer through the years. Give your perennials a solid start with good soil preparation, adding organic material to your planting beds as needed. Seasonal maintenance tasks for perennials vary, from staking tall flower spikes to cutting plants back in fall or early spring to dividing crowded clumps of plants. Check with your local nursery for care guidelines specific to your region.
To design your perennial beds, review plant catalogs and garden books to find flowers you like. Narrow your wish list by selecting plants that fit your growing conditions. For season-long color, coordinate bloom times on paper before buying plants.
Remember that perennials are just as picturesque when planted with annuals, trees, dwarf conifers, flowering shrubs, or even vegetables. You don't need a large garden devoted solely to perennials to make an impact.