Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seedy Saturday- Perennial Seeds to Try

At the garden house, perennials are the financial equivalent of a kick in the teeth to my budget.  There 's no question that they end up being worth the money- returning year after year. But sometimes I don't have the money.

In the years I've got a strict budget or a large project, I've bought perennials at the end of the season when they're heavily discounted.

I've also grown perennials from seed- which is by far the most affordable option. A seed packet usually costs $2- 4 and there are dozens, if not hundreds of seeds per packet. Not all perennials are easy to grow from seed; Lois Holes' Perennial Favourites book is a great resource and she usually includes whether the plants are easy to grow from seed.  Even when she's advised against it, if its a plant I really want in my yard-- in LARGE QUANTITY- then I've tried growing it from seed just to see. It's really cheap to fail.

Here are some of the perennials I've had luck with:

Jacob's Ladder is a shade loving plant with an upright habit and some capacity to take over. I think the leaves look really unique- set closely together they form the look of a ladder. Their pretty flowers grow in purple bunches early in the summer. I grow this plant in the complete shade in a strip of dirt bordered by our deck and patio. These plants flowered the first season I transplanted them out and have grown taller and more profuse every season since.

Silver Sage is a curious looking plant. It has large blue-grey, furry leaves grown in the form of a rose. Its flowers grow atop a tall, wide stalk. I think its a bit like hens and chicks on steroids -- plus it flowers. I have it in a spot in part-shade and its grown well- though the slugs have really enjoyed the leaves. It grew to full size the second summer I transplanted it out... full size being the size of one of the larger hostas.

Yarrow is a plant I grew up picking in the Rockies. I liked it so much I tried to make my wedding bouquet out of these medicinal flowers (it turned out looking like a giant cauliflower- and so it didn't make the service!) The plants are about 2 to 3 feet tall with dusty green leaves that wave like whispy ferns. Their flowers are tiny daisy- looking things snuggled close together creating a wistful canopy. In the wild I've only seen white however you can buy plants and seeds that are many different colours including pink, orange and yellow. To grow them for their medicinal properties (Salt Spring Seeds reports that yarrow is an "Esteemed cold and fever plant. Soothes and heals external wounds and skin conditions of all kinds. An infusion of the leaves makes a nourishing tea as well as a great hair wash."), grow the white ones.  In my yard, yarrow has been extremely non-fussy, winter hardy and drought tolerant.

This spring I'm looking forward to seeing if my Chinese Rhubarb and Bergamot plants survived. Both transplanted well into the garden last summer... but we'll see if they survived the test of Edmonton's longest winter in my life time.


John Schneider - Gold Forest Grains said...

March 14th with the first signs of plus zero temps and the talk of perennials finally comes up! Yayy! Good for you...can't wait to see some green.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey Carissa, thanks for commenting on my blog last week! I always enjoy hearing from readers. I'm getting started on my gardening too - but vegetables mostly. Sadly, they are not perinneal! :) Anyway, I hope you'll come back and add to the conversation!

Evelyn in Canada said...

Pinks are also good to try, and thyme for it's purple flowers. I've got that growing between the stones on my patio. It doesn't truly like to be walked on and it grows taller than the mother-of-thyme most people use, but I like it. I grow chives for their flowers too, and flax is easy to start and will self seed after it's happy (not too prolifically).

An Avenue Homesteader said...

I love pinks, Evelyn! I have a little section in my backyard but I didn't plant them from seed--- you have and they haven't been too fussy? Thyme is another I haven't tried from seed, so thanks for the challenge!

Heather said...

Hey Carissa;

Decided to dig around in your blog for a while this afternoon - a great way to "catch up" on what's been going on in your life!

Question - do you mean it when you say that Jacob's Ladder will be happy in utter shade? I've got a two-foot-wide section along the southern side of our backyard (because its got a full six-foot-high fence next to it) that gets pretty much zero sun. I've tried putting beds all around the backyard fences to make them more "natural looking" but having a hard time even getting Trumpet Vine to get growing on that wall, so would love a good suggestion!

An Avenue Homesteader said...

Hey! I've got a couple sections like that-- one that has a fence on the south and trees along the border-- hostas, junipers and hops have grown there really well. I've got a section of complete shade where lily of the valley grows (wetter section), and jacob's ladder has been fine in the near full shade (gets late evening sun, as it sets).

On another section where there's a four foot fence (its on the south side of the lot), raspberries, wild strawberries, rhubarb and wild roses have grown well for me- as has virginia creeper. Now that's a versitile plant! Shade and sun, it will grow up fences and on the ground. The only problem I've had with it (besides it growing so fast) is that the it can get buggy- little white hoppers. These leaf hoppers can make the leaves redden earlier in the season than they should and they are everywhere out here in Edmonton.

Hope that helps! You don't have a blog, do you?