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Vermont Garden Journal: Perennial Flowers

07/20/12 5:55PM
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The Ligularia
I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. There are some interesting things to know about selecting perennial flower varieties for shade in Vermont. This far north the sun isn't as strong as further South, so often perennial flowers that are listed needing shade to grow best actually survive well in full sun. It often depends on the variety. For example, I've seen yellow leafed hostas thriving in a full sun garden, where blue and green leafed versions nearby just wilted.

As shade gets more common in many perennial gardens, everyone is looking for some unusual plants to grow beyond the common hosta, astilbe, and ferns. Shade perennials are often divided into dry and moist shade loving plants. Dry shade perennials grow well in places such as under large deciduous trees, while moist shade lovers thrive along a streambed. Here are some choices for both.

For dry shade areas consider planting new varieties of hellebores and epimediums. Hellebores feature deer resistant, low growing, dark green, silver or reddish colored leaves, and nodding white, pink or red flowers in late winter. Check out the new varieties with upward facing flowers such as 'Ivory Prince'. 'Fairy Wings' Epimedium features triangular-shaped leaves on small mounding plants with white flowers in spring. The flowers look like little orchids floating above the layered foliage.

For a wet, shady area try Ligularia and Meehan's mint. Ligularia, or the rocket, is a 3 to 4 foot tall shade-loving perennial that thrives in moist areas. The yellow colored flowers emerge in mid summer and stand tall above the large, toothed, heart-shaped leaves. Meehan's mint is a low growing ground cover that has violet-purple flowers in early summer and can flower in the deep shade that other ground covers won't tolerate.

For this week's tip, replenish containers now for a late summer and fall show. Remove or cut back struggling plants and consider planting edibles such as nasturtiums and pansies for fall. Fertilize any new plants and protect them from the harsh summer sun until they get established.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about peaches. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Perennials for Dry Shade
Perennials for Wet Shade


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