ACO.CA - Lifestyle

Ditch to patio. The Bluenoser's way.

Perennial Gardens allow homeowners to watch their green-thumb efforts grow, becoming more beautiful each year. Instead of buying annuals and re-planting beds and boxes in the spring, design a perennial garden of your own. Create a space, choose plants you like, (native to your area); plant them once and watch them propagate over time.

To show you how wonderful perennial gardens can be, ACO is proud to present this follow-up story to our Do It Yourself landscaping article.

We have tips for those of you who have just bought property, as well as those who have been adding to existing gardens. Discover how low-maintenance and rewarding perennial gardens can be.

Perennial Gardens: Getting Started

Every May we always take a look at what landscaping we'd like to accomplish. The property behind our greenhouse is always a focus. We created a terraced garden on the southwest side of the greenhouse. In late May we conduct our ‘Do it yourself landscaping’ projects. One special project involved building planters out of old rail ties. Top sections (above the planters) turned out to be an ideal place for perennial gardens.

{becssg}lifestyle/perennial_gardens|width=330|height=248|throw=2{/becssg} {becssg_c}0|bordergarden-tigerlilieswildmallowcatnip.jpg|Border Garden|Tiger Lilies, Wild Mallow and Catnip{/becssg_c} {becssg_c}0|crazydaisiescaliforniapoppylupins.jpg||Daisies, California Poppies and Lupins{/becssg_c} {becssg_c}0|deck-border-tiger-lilies2.jpg||Tiger lilies are great for deck borders{/becssg_c} {becssg_c}0|perennial-holding-garden.jpg||Holding garden for perennials is a bloom in July{/becssg_c}

We prepped the earth using top soil we bought, mixing it with peat moss. (Because our perennial gardens are growing on terraces, water retention is an issue.) Once we readied the soil, we walked the property in search of different perennials we liked. Some people prefer color, others texture, others height etc. We were looking for all of the above. We wanted vibrant colors, tall plants, ground covering plants, small flowering trees, shrubs, roses, grasses—the Lot.

Mom and I grabbed wheelbarrows, shovels and spades and hit the trail. Tiger Lilies are rampant in our area. We found a cluster of them growing next to the stream. (When transplanting perennials early spring and fall are cut off points. Avoid transplanting during summer months if you want plants to flower.)

We chose certain perennials we new would do well. Hardy plants like tiger lilies have been growing on our property for over 50 years. While researching hardy perennials for our garden; we kept our eyes on plants growing close to the road and in ditches. If we saw something we liked, we dug it up and transplanted it.

Wild perennials versus hybrids are two very different things when designing perennial gardens. Hybrids are typically bought in nurseries and tend to take a hit when planted. Wild perennials, although some are hard to transplant, are great if you can get your hands on seeds.

Perennial Gardens: Harvesting seeds

We had seeds we’d gathered last year from our perennial holding garden and from around the property. We harvested Mallow seeds, Poppy seeds and Columbine seeds. To harvest seeds pick the tops off above mentioned plants, shake them to hear if they’ve dried inside—peel away the outer shell and pop them into an air tight container. Put them in a cupboard and wait till fall or spring depending on the plant.

Other garden perennials included (cedum) or stone crop, ribbon grass, archangel, chives, ditch grass, wild fern, forget-me-knots, mint, catnip, phlox, wild daisy, pink clover and what ever else we could get our hands on in the vicinity.

To achieve height in perennial gardens we used wild grasses. You would be surprised how lovely and willowy wild grasses can be in a garden. Most wild grasses produce delicate flowers ranging in color from white to deep red. We found most of our grasses growing on the side of the road. Compared to rocks and salt, our terraced garden soil was heaven sent for tall wild grasses we transplanted. Now July, the grasses have reached 3 ft and begun to flower.

Not everyone has an abundance of perennials growing on their property—many of us have to buy perennials at nurseries. We bought Black Eyed Susan Day Lilies, which are doing well. We hope to see them propagate in the fall, producing an assortment of lilies on the property next year.

Copy of Local Weather