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Perennial Pets



I'd like to hear from YOU...what are your favorite perennials? You know, the ones you wouldn't be without if you could only have 5 or 10 in your yard (perish the thought!). I'd like you to tell us your favorites, and be sure to include the zone (we're in zone 8) in which you garden and what type of soil you have (sand, clay, loam...). Send your responses to me by email and I'll post them here. If you aren't sure of the common name or botanical Latin name, don't let that stop you...it's your opinions we want the most! Just give us a description and maybe we can figure it out.

I'll start off...this is going to be hard. I would have to say that my top favorites would be Aster frickartii Monch' for its dependability, color and longevity of bloom season. Secondly, I would probably name Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' (I'm seeing a trend for blue flowers here). It has such deep color, doesn't flop over and the foliage is really a nice dark green. Thirdly, I would list daylilies...can't just pick one...for their tolerance of various conditions, their variety of color and shape...and just because you can't replace them with anything else! Again...my zone is 8 and my soil is mostly sandy. I'll probably change my mind about this on a weekly basis during the growing season (I didn't list anything fragrant!)

-Kathy Miller-

Now, it's your turn...

 Date: 6/28/2001 6:37 AM
From: Dan Basler
Zone 8a - Pacific Northwest

I live in the Pacific Northwest. I have been hopelessly addicted to perennials for many years, so finding your site on the web is such a treat.

I love lupine. I've been adding to a drift over the years and found this year I had a bed 20 feet long with 7 lupin all over 6 feet topped so many blooms, they even took my breath away. I have learned to spray the plants frequently and water often and the aphid I have fought so hard are nowhere to be seen!

I love daisies, hosta, large double blooming fuschia, and rock garden plants, especially blue star creeper.

I have enjoyed reading what others are getting a kick out of growing.

I'll check back here frequently. It's a great site.



Thank you so much for your nice email... your lupines sound breathtaking! There is nothing quite as dramatic as a sweep of them... but I have a terrible time with mildew here... my soil is sandy and I'm not willing to constantly be watering! Glad you've got the problem in hand.

Date: 05/18 11:32 AM
From: Denice Rogers
Zone 7, Western Washington
My garden is in zone 7. I also live in western Washington towards the base of the mountains. I have about 20 different varieties of hardy geraniums. They are really great plants. Some only flower in the late spring - early summer, but quite a few bloom from spring till frost and are semi-evergreen. They are very low maintenance plants and come in pink, blue, white and shades of purple. Really a top notch plant, but don't see them a lot in garden centers.

I agree about hardy geraniums... they are WONDERFUL plants! I might make an exception for 'Claridge Druce' because it seeds EVERYWHERE and is a weed for me... but it is a pretty plant. :-)

Happy gardening!

Response: I got a big chuckle over your comment about 'Claridge Druce.' I've got that stuff everywhere! But it's so easy to grow I give it to people who tell me they have black thumbs. It's almost indestructible.

Date: 03/16/01 10:30 AM

From: bknowles
North West of England, U.K.
In the North West of England U.K. our favourite at this time of the year is Sarcococca digynis [shrubby plant], not much to look at but the scent! It is so strong you can drink it, we have ours on the side of the path coming down to the front door and it has been flowering for 6 weeks. Two other favourites are Helleborus orientalis in various colours. This year has been a joy as 3 years ago we purchased fresh seed from Ashwood's Nursery at Wolverhampton, at between $2 and $3 a packet. sorry if my maths isn,t correct but it is fairly close. The other joy is Hacquetia epipactis. Enjoy your pages.
Hi! Nice to hear from you. I only get contributions to this page occasionally, and it's nice to have something come in! I have a sarcococca blooming on the north side of our house, but it's not the same variety that you mentioned... I'm sure the scent is in the ballpark though... heavenly!
The Hacquetia was just shown in an article in the recent "Horticulture" magazine... what an interesting plant. The color reminds me of Helleborus foetidus blooms. I've not seen the former in the flesh... how large is each individual flower? Pictures can sometimes be deceiving. The man who contributed the article was Daniel Hinkley, who has a nursery about 35 minutes from here. They probably propagate and sell this plant. That nursery is open a couple of times a year and that's when it's a good time to buy things, unless a person wants to mail order (Heronswood Nursery).
Happy gardening in the U.K.! :-)
Kathy Miller

Date: 02/24 8:02 PM
Zone 5
I'd have to say my favorite perennials would be anything in the Malva family such as Malva Sylvestris Zebrina. I also wouldn't be without Campanulas. I have about 8 different varieties. Another favorite is the herbaceous Potentillas, especially the red variety. I live in Zone 5 and our soil is mainly loamy although there are some areas with clay.

Date: 02/10/2001 12:23 PM
From: Lorraine
North of Scotland
Any lilies! I just love lilies. Lorraine

Date: 10/19/2000 10:12 PM

From: Laura Middleton
Howdy from s.e. Montana!
I'm in zone 3 with a really ignorant, heavy gumbo clay. The only thing that is going to help it in the next couple years or so is our goats and horses manure! No rock in this area at all. I'm having a hard time growing anything so far! The rose bushes I planted this summer both died. The pansies struggled thru the year and the plant I dislike the most, Petunias, did just fine (figures!) When I get the soil improved to the point of not losing plants, I want to plant peonies in any color but white, phlox (the tall ones), pansies, (a bunch of "P's) and irises. Those are my favorites. Also want to try Dahlias, Hollyhocks and Glads. Came across this portion of your many pages while looking for soap sites....so back to them! Do enjoy all of your pages tho.

Take care!

Laura Middleton

Date: 05/07/2000 9:07 PM

From: Debbie

I just wanted to respond to your perennial pets query. I garden in zone 4 and our soil is mostly clay. My favorites are my columbine and shasta daisies. Dianthus grow beautifully here also. These are my faves, but I wouldn't want to do without any of my others!


Date: 9/12/1999 3:59 PM
From: Gay Wehrman

Thanks for your website. So much info and so little time. So far my favorite perennial is the sweet pea (no fragrance but very pretty and very hardy). I use to love daisies but so do the aphids and I can't abide aphids so I can't abide daisies anymore either.

Thanks for all the info on soapmaking. I make my own bar soap (lye, coconut oil, olive oil, veggie shortening & water). I use allspice for fragrance & texture. I love it. My husband even uses it as a shampoo.

Gay Wehrman, Elbert, Colorado (zone 5)

Date: 05/24/1999 12:09 AM
From: Cindy Bennight
I have something to add to your "Perennial Pets" forum. I have to admit that I like nothing better in my garden than to brush up against a nice, fragrant lavender bush. I have at least 7 or 8 throughout my yard. I trim them back a little each year but like them to be about 36 inches tall and about 3 to 3 1/2 ft. in diameter. I live, like you, in the Pacific Northwest, zone 8.

Date: 05/16/98
From: Rich

I like your idea for the perennial pets and I like hearing or seeing (so I don't have to look em up) about other peoples favorite combinations of plants. Here are a few of mine. I live in zone 7 Carpenter, NC, near Raleigh, and I was lucky enough to have 1 - 2 ft of nice topsoil in the yard. Most of the soil in this area is red clay. The veronicas are one of my favorite plants. I have 5 varieties in the garden, but I'm with you...'Sunny Border Blue' is the strongest. It has the longest blooming period and looks good next to any other plant in my garden. I also like Achillea ptarmica 'Angel's Breath'. The kind of spiked foliage is very attractive before the plant blooms in summer with little white flowers that resemble Baby's Breath. A late summer deadheading will yield another round of blooms from fall to frost. One more favorite is Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower. A healthy group of these is very showy and also goes well with many other plants.


Rich has a beautiful website devoted to his garden and graphic arts interests. Check it out:
Carpenter Perennial Gardens

Date: 03/16/98
From: Peg Byford

I found your web-page through a link on GardenWeb Party forum! Haven't had the chance to check it all out, but what I've seen so far is great!

Not sure whether this is actually considered a "perennial", but it's my all-time favorite spring-time bush. And I'm not sure what "brand" it is either. I have a Daphne bush that is covered every spring with the most gorgeous purple fragrant flowers. I could have a whole yard of them and not complain a bit! It's blooming right now (a bit early for this part of the country - southeast Alaska, Zone 5/6), and in a few weeks the leaves will be on, adding a beautiful deep green color to the purple. Then, this fall, it will be covered with bright red berries. (Sounds like Daphne mezereum, which is actually a deciduous shrub commonly known as "February Daphne." It's supposed to only reach about 4 feet in height, but I've seen one that was over my head!)

The soil in my yard is pretty neutral. I've started a couple of these bushes in some soil that's more acidic, and they're not doing very well, so will have to work on them!

Wishes for blue skies and sunshine.


Date: 07/07 12:54 PM
From: Karen Johnson

I have a few favorites, oddly enough, all with white or pink flowers...

First, there's Daphne burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie' (shrub), far more robust, and very heavily flowered with small white blossoms, than my Daphne odora, despite the care I took in planting the odora in gravelly well-drained soil. The leaves are gold-edged green, making it a stunning plant in bloom.

My mom got me tuned into and turned on to the mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia (shrub). The blossoms are exquisite; pink, dotted and rimmed with burgundy. A very unusual look.

Filipendula rubra 'Queen of the Prairie' looks like a giant pink astilbe, and spreads nicely if that's what you want it to do...unfortunately, it's a nice appetizer for the deer. I have it currently growing with Daucus carota (at least I THINK that's what it is), Queen Anne's lace (wild carrot). The delicacy of both plants is very pretty. I hope the deer don't like the wild volunteer...

Speaking of astilbe, I have a number of them growing in the shadier north side of the house. They're strong, and very colorful.

Calla lilies are a favorite. I have some dark pink ones growing in my front garden, and am about to plant a group of calla lilies in yellow, white, and pink near the filipendula.

My Web pages says what our zone is, but I'll mention it here: Very close to being a Zone 7, because -- being on a plateau above the Stillaguamish and the Snohomish rivers -- it's just a tad colder than the Zone 8 in most of Western Washington. The soil type before amending was sandy-loamy.

-Karen Johnson-
Karen's Pacific Northwest Garden Web Page

This page last updated on 5 February 2002.

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