What’s in a Yard?
Each year when the spring approaches many people sit down to puzzle out what new treasures they will add to their yards. I usually pick one or two perennials to go with the annuals and vegetables that I buy for my yard. Any yard, no matter the size, can pack a lot of color and diversity. When creating a yard design it doesn’t have to be anything really formal. It can be as simple as looking out over the yard and thinking about the different zones that you might want to create.
A really interesting facet of a diverse yard is the fact it is always changing. Each year sees changes to the different gardening spaces in a yard. Some things didn’t survive the winter. Some things are in the wrong place and need to be moved. Some things have taken over their space and need to be divided to open up the area again. I view a yard as a fluid space. Nothing has to be permanent—nothing is completely sacred that it can’t be moved or removed. I believe having an open mind set about the yard keeps it fresh and interesting.
I have tried to include a few more perennials every year—mainly because they take care of themselves and produce year after year. Shasta daisies are a special favorite. They tend to grow in clumps and are about 2 feet tall with large white petal flowers and yellow centers. The only real pest problems I have noticed are grasshoppers and cucumber beetles. They are quite resilient and good producers of flowers year after year. If you cut back the spent flower heads during the growing season, they will produce another wave of flowers. They will spread but are not overly invasive.
Another favorite is Columbine. They can grow in sun or part shade. They have a wide variety of colors including pinks, purples, yellows, blues and bi-colors. Their leaves look like little spears on long stalks. They can be attacked by leaf miners, but they don’t seem to be bothered by too many pests. They have bell like flowers that hang daintily from thin stalks. Some perennial variations will bloom longer than others, though by mid-summer they have all died back. If you wait to cut the flower heads back until the seed pods have browned you can cut them and toss them into the yard to have new Columbines from the seeds.
A very sturdy perennial is the Coneflower. The native variety is a purplish-pink color flower head and fairly long lasting. They have large spear shaped leaves which grow widely spaced on the flower stalk. The flower stalks are the tallest part of the plant. They put up multiple flower stalks with one flower on each one. The perennial coneflower is no longer limited to one color. Since the plants have been hybridized, they now come in yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and purples. The flower heads have also under gone changes and now feature curled petals, double blooming and daisy like flowers. I usually leave the dead flower heads for the birds to eat during the late summer through winter.
These are just a few perennial members that would work in most gardens. The ones I have listed above are easy to start, good bloomers and return year after year. If you are starting a garden and looking for a few perennials to try please consider the ones I have mentioned. They offer a variety of color and texture for your yard.