Find the perfect perennials for dry shade with help from our senior Gardener Ruth
Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’
As you would expect, if a variety first introduced 158 years ago (1858), still manages to collect recognition as the 2016 Perennial Plant of the Year, it must be one outstanding perennial. This reliable and showy Japanese (Autumn) Anemone brightens up any semi-shaded garden from September to October with large white flowers on a 120 cm (4 foot) plant. Good, rich heavy loam soil is preferred, although such ideal conditions can encourage the plant to spread. It is easy however to keep in check with judicious trimming of any wandering roots. Good cut flowers for home use. Zone 5
Clematis recta SERIOUS BLACK™
Not a typical vining Clematis, it instead has a sprawling, bushy habit. The early purple foliage matures to a deep olive green, and it then produces a good display of fragrant little ivory flower clusters in late spring to early summer. Will require staking or an obelisk to grow into, otherwise this can be allowed to sprawl through an adjacent shrub. Prune to the ground in fall or early spring. May be divided in spring, but plants take a season to recover. Makes an interesting cut flower. Zone 2
Hosta ‘Curly Fries’
The 2016 Hosta of the Year as chosen by the AHGA (American Hosta Growers Association). Hosta are well known as some of the best performing perennials for shady gardens. However, not everyone has room for the big leafed monsters, hence the growing popularity of smaller (miniature) varieties. Perhaps that is why ‘Curly Fries’ was awarded the 2016 honour. Or perhaps it was because it is one of the most unique varieties around. Stiff, long narrow leaves with heavily ruffled edges emerge chartreuse and brighten to yellow, especially if provided with sun for half the day. Lavender flowers in midsummer add extra colour, as do the red speckles on mature leaf petioles. Fantastic in smaller containers, or perhaps in front of that bright blue hosta in your border. Zone 3
Lychnis ‘Petite Jenny’
Blooms of Bressingham introduced the popular ‘Jenny’ a few years ago, and now she has a little sister, ‘Petite Jenny’. Since this compact, bushy just 35cm (14”) tall variety was found in a garden patch of Jenny, she might best be described as a daughter instead. Sterile flowers ensure the plant blooms for a longer season. Soft, lavender pink double flowers bloom May and June, with some later flowering in summer. This variety of the commonly named Ragged Robin is hardy to zone 5, and is useful in formal and informal gardens, borders, meadows or containers.
Sedum Sunsparkler™ ‘Firecracker’
Ground cover sedums, such as the commonly grown Dragon’s Blood forms, have been popular for years. Easy to grow and spreading quickly, they tolerate drought, full sun and poor soils better than most perennials while still putting on a foliage and flower show. Here at Swan Lake Nurseryland, we’re very excited about the new Sunsparkler series of Sedum, which takes this perennial to a new level of performance. ‘Firecracker’ features shiny cherry-red foliage from April through November on 15cm (6”) tall plants with a 45cm (18”) spread. In mid to late August, large medium-pink flower heads provide extra colour. These zone 4 plants are excellent in mixed container plantings, garden edging, green roofs and a multitude of other sunny locations.