23 November 2007

Great Performers: Some top perennials in my garden

We all have plants that we find completely irresistable. Some may be old favourites, others challenging to grow, others new-fangled hybrids that seduce with their hype and their hypnotic beauty. Here are a few of mine, starting with the elusive and cantankerous blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia or M. grandis. Where other plants give me the crazies, this actually does quite well for me. Why? Well, we're not the Himalayas here, but it doesn't get too hot here, the soil is moist, humus rich and the spots where I have these planted are cool and shady. The secret to growing these is to let the plants develop multiple crowns so that they're more vigourous and more apt to last for a few years. I haven't had a chance to get seedlings since the great duck debacle of several years ago, but hopefully next year when the plants flower, we'll get some seedset and seedling development.

Just as marvelous as the blue poppy is this hybrid, M. b. 'Hensol Violet'. Last year it flowered amidst the blue corydalis, and while the flowers weren't huge, they were this blissful colour with a sea of blue around them. Delicious!

Here's something a little different: the lovely yellow-flowered Jacob's ladder (Polemonium pauciflorum). The flowers are more trumpet shaped than many of the standard blue or white flowered varieties, and the plant is compact and very floriferous.

A few years ago, a local nursery carried this relative of Anchusa, borage, pulmonaria and mertensia; it's Lindelofia, and I've never seen it anywhere else but that one place. I have a marvelous clump in the back garden which I've shared with a few other gardeners who adore blue flowers. It's not fragrant, but it flowers for a long time, and that blue colour makes my heart glad.

Last year a friend gave me a plant of Arctic Snow Mullein, and it produced marvelous, huge leaves covered in pure white down. This year, it put up spikes of these yolk-yellow flowers, and made the bees happy for weeks on end. I hope that it seeds, because it's probably biennial; I'd like to have this in the garden every year.

It's not a yellow peony, but Primavera pleases me with its pure white flowers and yellow stamens, deep green foliage, and wonderful fragrance. I still hope to get "Molly the Witch" peony one day, (Paeonia mlokosewitschii) but since the only person I know growing it in my province is an insufferable bore, I'll have to grow it from seed myself...some day!

Veronicas are dandy plants, and somewhat underused in some gardens. Last year I saw 'Aztec Gold' well-grown in a display garden at a nursery, and that convinced me that I needed to have it--and I'm glad that it convinced me, because it's a beautiful thing, with that golden foliage and periwinkle blue flowers.

Yeah, I know. Every opportunity to show this plant, I do. But after a bit of a rocky start getting it going (due to mediocre stock arriving at my local nursery, who then got better plants from another supplier) it has surpassed my expectations. I hope that it overwinters as well as other echinaceas do, and multiplies...I'd love to have drifts of it, and every other colour of coneflower, making the butterflies wildly happy.

Wallflowers are marvelous; fragrant, floriferous, and come in a host of interesting colours and colour blends. This beauty is probably 'Constant Cheer', although it might also be 'Stars and Stripes' from Thompson and Morgan; I'm not sure because it was an unlabeled beauty at a small greenhouse. The only problem with wallflowers (Erysimum) is that they are biennial; this may be why they're hard to find locally because not everyone is that patient with growing them. Some DO flower in their first year if seeded early enough indoors under lights or in a greenhouse. I hunt high and low for them every year. (Yes, I'm going to grow some in the nursery bed I'm going to develop next year. Really.)

Okay...there are a few of my favourites? Wanna play the game too? How about posting some of YOUR favourites on YOUR blog? It's a good way to get through the rest of November....come back here and post a comment to let me know when you've done your post, as I'd love to see what others are finding top performers (and what their reasons are.)


  1. Wow, leading off with Meconopsis! I've been tempted to try it, but I don't think I could find any spot where it would survive (unless I move).

  2. I love these photos! I'm afraid my garden's offerings would be very humble by comparison...but no less wonderful. I admit to smiling at dandelions! :)

  3. Your photos are marvelous! In my part of the world, (Phoenix, Arizona) we don't have many blue flowers and I'm envious of that gorgeous blue poppy. Ive never seen anything like it. And I thought blue morning glories were to die for!

  4. oops. I was signed in with the wrong ID. The comment by Carlene was actually by me.

  5. Jodi, Jodi, Jodi. You're killing me here, don't you know? Starting off with the blue poppy, following with the violet one, and ending with 'Green Envy.' And THAT is just what I am.

    Lovely, though! I'll play along. I'll do a post soon, maybe even today when I finish the one I'm working on. I'll show off what I love best in my garden and why. Great idea!

    By the way, NOvember is almost over!! Hang in there! ;-)

  6. Definately fallen in love with Meconopsis!

  7. Show Off!! That blue poppy is amazing! I noticed it's the one on the cover of your book, too. If you keep showing off these plants I'm going to start a petition that you send us some seeds ;)

    I'll do my best to come up with what worked for me this year. It'll basically be anything that didnt die! I'll try to do a post for this tomorrow or Monday.

  8. I am absolutely drooling over the blue poppy. I have tried and tried to grow any poppy without success. I always figured that it was too hot here for the blue poppy. I don't know what I do wrong but I don't have poppies in my garden. Whine...

  9. I have posted a response to your challenge...have fun figuring out my unnamed flowers...that's my challenge to you! LOL!

  10. Lisa, have you tried Shirley poppies? I've had horrible luck with poppies here, too, but I CAN GROW SHIRLEY POPPIES!!!! And from seed, yet! :-D

  11. The Meconopsis is absolutely breathtaking!!! Too bad it wouldn't fare well here. I haven't ever seen the majority of the perennials you included in this post and I'm so glad YOU were the one to introduce me to them. Thank you!!! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  12. Hi everyone and welcome to Bloomingwriter's "Get me through November' blog-o-rama!
    Entangled, you wait til I do the post of 'plants that hate me!' Meconopsis I can grow...some of the things I can't will make you giggle.

    Sarita, I smile at dandelions too...they're a wonderful blessing.

    Aiyana, you do have some blue flowers in the wild, I don't know about in gardens but there's a website of desert wildflowers that just makes me drool with delight.

    Kylee, yeah, I know...the blue poppies can be poopers...but you'll do great with Green Envy.

    Ewa, yes, Meconopsis is a seductive creature...cantankerous by times, though.

    Gina, the problem with meconopsis, as Kylee will attest, is that they're a PAIN to grow from seed, especially packaged seed. If you can get fresh seed, chances of success are better. They're moody, mystical, marvelous plants, and even when you've got them in the garden, they'll arbitrarily die. Just because they can.

    Lisa, like Kylee says, you should do well with Shirley poppies, also with the peony and lettuce types (breadseed poppies). I'd send some seeds to someone in the US but I'm sure customs would invert!

    Okay, Queen Annie, I'll pop over and see what you're growing. Should be fun!

    Cindy @Rosehaven, it's fun to see what people grow in different places...like you have citrus in your yard. There are days I'd trade being able to grow meconopsis for having my own orange or grapefruit trees...

  13. "...but you'll do great with Green Envy.

    Oh sure...if I can just find it!! LOL! Kim and I were talking about you while we were strolling through Petitti's last month. (Oh yes we were!) We both remarked how you seem to be able to get all the neat varieties of things that we can't here! You must know the right people. ;-)

  14. I love that blue Meconopsis poppy. Cool conditions, eh? Then I am doomed, I think. Rich soil? oh well, forget it. It is just so lovely, I can't help but want it, though. I'll put up some of my favorites, though.

  15. Kylee and Jodi, I will try to introduce Shirley and the lettuce (?) and peony type poppies. I don't know the varieties I have tried. My Mother used to pull poppies out and throw them away...to me. My sister has given me starts. I have tried seeds. I will persevere. Maybe Shirley will be more friendly and stay around with poppy and lettuce types.

  16. A delightful post, Jodi. I can see why you chose the seductive blue moconopsis poppy as the cover of your book. Though coveted, I have never seen one in a garden and skiddish to try one in mine ... but you have given me hope.

  17. Jodi: Not fair!!!! Most of us covet and cannot grow that blue poppy, or the purple one either and wallflowers? I have tried and failed! Great post and I'm in for later this week! Will leave you a note on my favorites! And failures! That's a good one also and the pictures are a welcome relief from buff and brown! Thanks!

  18. The Blue Poppy is beautiful - as is the Arctic Snow Mullein. Wallflowers - yum. I love those.

    Good post and a wonderful way to make November speed right on by! It's almost spring, I keep telling myself.

  19. Hi there, Jodie

    How wonderful to see the meconopsis in another garden blog :-D

    I have it growing in my Scottish garden and every year I look forward to May and June when it flowers here :-D

    You have a lot of interesting plants in your garden and great photos - I'll be back for a longer visit the next time!


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