Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top Perennials Part 5 (of many)

We got a blast of a snowstorm last Friday. Not as bad as New England, but a foot of snow for sure.
That's why it's so much fun to write about and look at photos of flowers while it's still cold and white outside!

Here are 3 more that I have in my garden  - I'm sure you would like to have them too.

This is Bergenia cordifolia. It is a strong, hardy plant for a wide range of Zones 2-9.
It has thick, leather-y leaves that are bright green in spring. They later turn a lovely burgundy
bronze in autumn. In the spring, any unsightly "spent" leaves should be removed.

In late spring magenta pink flowers rise above the shiny leaves on a long tall stalk. They are very effective if planted en masse. They also combine well with Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow'.
Just watch the ajuga: it's a spreader.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria) is a great perennial for regions that have mild winters. In harsher climates, they survive if covered with thick mulch over the winter. They tolerate shade very well and bloom in early spring. suggests cutting the leaves back to 3 inches after the plant blooms. It will rejuvenate the leaves. I presume it wouldn't hurt to fertilize it at this stage either. It prefers a rich soil and does not like to compete with tree roots.

I have several types of Iris in my garden, 2 of which are Bearded Iris and Siberian Iris.

I used to have deep purple Bearded Iris and even a picotee blue striped one but they died out.
Bearded Iris are notorious for dying from iris borer, which makes the thick corms all mushy and soft.
I now have only the yellow one but it is a beauty. They are heavy feeders so fertilize in early spring and in the fall.

Siberian Iris are much easier to grow! They are dainty on tall thin stalks and are beautiful in flower arrangements.

They do well if divided every couple of years and they love fertilizer.

In one area of the garden I combined them with little allium bulbs, Allium moly. The blue-purple looked great with the bright yellow.

The nice thing with both Iris is that even when the flowers fade, the long grass-like stalks still add texture to the border.


Nadezda said...

Astrid, I do love Siberian Irises. I grow them in a shade place and they don't bloom well, so I think I have to replant irises in another place, or might I divide them?

Jennifer said...

Hi Astrid, I don't have any Bergenia cordifolia at the moment and should think about a few plants for spring. My Siberian Iris performed horribly last year and your post has reminded me that I must get out there early and divide my large, overgrown clumps.

Astrid said...

Hi Nadezda
You can do both - split them up and replant into a sunny spot. They really like sun!

Hi Jennifer
Bergenia is one of those lovely behind-the-scenes plants. Really worth picking up a couple of them. The year my Siberian Iris were spectacular was when I divided them and dumped a whole bag of manure on them. They obviously loved it!!

HELENE said...

Hi Astrid, thanks for a great post again, reminding me that I should find a suitable Pulmonaria for my garden, it's on my wishlist - my very long wishlist!

On my list is also more irises, perhaps I should go for Siberian Iris? I have never had them before, they look lovely in your photos :-)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Astrid said...

Hi Helene
All gardeners have a super long wish list!! There's always just one more beauty we'd like to squeeze into our garden! Siberian Iris can handle a bit of shade so that might make it easier for you to find a spot for it.

Foxglove Lane said...

Ah yes how true it is lovely to look at flowers at this time of the year.....really beautiful photos Astrid:~))

Astrid said...

Hello Foxglove Lane!
I often participate in GBBD - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - the 15th of every month. It's nice to think that in a few months i will actually be able to post a few pictures, because winter will be GONE from Southern Ontario and I will have flowers once again. Thanks for dropping by.

debsgarden said...

I love the photo of the pulmonaria. Mine seems lost in its current location, and now I realize it needs a rock to give it presence.

Astrid said...

Hi Deb
I think a small area of pulmonaria would look fabulous in your woodland garden! Do post a picture sometime.

Alistair said...

Hi Astrid,I have the Bergenia, I like it when its looking at its best but most of the time its a right mess in our garden. I just got back into Pulmonaria last year with one called Blue Ensign, still waiting for the leaves to appear this year, better not let me down.

Astrid said...

Hello Alistair
You're right - Bergenia leaves can get ratty-looking quickly. But I like their thick, leather-y texture and really like the plant when it's in flower.
Dump a bit of compost on the Pulmonaria when the first leaves appear. Maybe it will appreciate the nutrients and will therefore put on a really good show for you :)

Angie said...

Another great post. I always cut my pulmonaria back after flowering. It generates lovely big leaves that gives interest during winter. Iris are gorgeous and worthy of a space in any garden in my opinion.