We all love Top Ten Lists, although I find they work best when there is some explanation to go along with the selections. Thinking about beginners who are nervous about planting, but who want lovely blooms and colourful foliage and tough plants, I looked through a big pile of photos from my gardens, and picked out ten plants I recommend quite regularly. Now, for me to pick ten plants is a challenge--I could do my top ten favourite day lilies, top ten sedums, top ten echinaceas, and so on. But for now, I've selected cultivars in some cases, or simply genus and species in other cases.
Here in no particular order other than they uploaded this way, are my Top Ten Easy Perennials
1. Veronica gentianoides: Gentian speedwell (top photo). Sun to partial shade, ordinary garden soil. Why I like this plant: blooms early, around time of primula and forget me not. Reseeds itself but not rudely. Drawbacks: Only blooms once a season, but if you have a mass of plants in a drift, the show will go on for weeks.
10. Pulmonaria, lungwort or Bethlehem sage. This is a fantastic genus of plants, most of which are noticeable for their silver or white spangled foliage, and pink, white or blue flowers. Why I like this plant: barely out of the ground in spring before it's flowering, excellent bee plant, looks great whether in bloom or not. Drawbacks: should have moist but well-draining soil, some older varieties may get powdery mildew and look ratty in hot weather. Cut the foliage back on such plants and they'll flush with fresh new foliage.
Varieties and cultivars of all of these plants should be available at any good garden centre or nursery. I encourage people as always to support their local nurseries, and resist the urge to buy cheap plants from the asphalt 'garden centres' set up in store parking lots. The better and healthier the plant, the more apt you are to have success in your garden.