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Long-blooming Perennial Flowers

    When choosing a plant to fit a certain location, a person can be mostly or wholly logical OR emotional. The logical method (such as Dilbert of the comic strip would use) is to consider soil, light level, available moisture, existing other plants, maintenance considerations, and so forth . . . then accordingly choose a good fit. In contrast, the emotional approach (as Cathy of the comic strip might do) is to more or less get excited about a plant seen, heard about or imagined, and then to desire it regardless of its suitability. Naturally, people often blend their reasoning with subconscious desires; they need not, and perhaps ought not, be exclusively one extreme or the other.
    This dichotomy exists not only in choosing plants for a garden or landscape, but also when trying to find a suitable human mate. But it is more complicated with people, because plants cannot reject your advances. With people, sometimes the compass arrow of one's heart points straight towards a person who is not the ideal choice of the conscious, judicious mind. The result of the discrepancy can be stress, if not turmoil and heartbreak. People who enjoy lengthy and pleasing marriages, likely benefit from heart and mind matching fairly well. Most of both garden plantings, and human relationships, can use improvements. In the same way that some people are described as "high maintenance," so are many plants.
    In an objective ranking of cost/benefit, Delphinium score low on my chart: toxic, short season of bloom, slug-prone, need staking, need irrigation (in Seattle). Moreover they bloom in June when we already have loads of flowers. In contrast, Geranium 'Jolly Bee' and Rozanne™ bloom from June into November, need no staking, no deadheading, are not toxic, are scarcely bothered by slugs, and are less thirsty. Of course, Delphinium is a tall narrow plant, Geranium are low and sprawling --hence are not utterly interchangeable. My point is that the Geranium are, overall, superior garden plants in Seattle. All else being equal, plants that need less water, less or no staking and deadheading, and that bloom for longer periods, are logically better choices.
    Over the years through trial and error, a person can learn gradually to make wiser choices. Accordingly, a gardener may replace a poorer plant with a better one, thereby saving maintenance time and money, while increasing the value of the garden.
    Now, below is a Useful List of 15 perennial garden plants and small shrubs that I especially commend for their extraordinarily lengthy bloom period: Those marked with a D need to be dead-headed; W means needs watering (in Seattle summers); S means needs or prefers shade. They are from all over the world, though none are native near or in Seattle.

Coreopsis grandiflora
Coreopsis; Tickseed D

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Moonbeam Coreopsis; Tickseed

Erigeron Karvinskianus
Santa Barbara Daisy (reseeds)

Erysimum linifolium 'Bowles' Mauve'
Perennial Wallflower D

Euryops pectinatus 'Viridis'
South African Daisy Bush D W

Fuchsia magellanica
Hardy Fuchsia W S

Gaura Lindheimerii
White Gaura (reseeds)

Geranium 'Jolly Bee' or Rozanne™
Hardy Geranium W

Lavatera Clementii 'Barnsley'
=Lavatera'Barnsley'
Tree Mallow

Penstemon 'Apple Blossom', 'Blackbird', 'Garnet' etc.
Hybrid Penstemon D W

Phygelius 'New Sensation' or 'Moonraker'
Cape Fuchsia D W

Potentilla fruticosa
Shrubby Cinquefoil

Salvia Greggii 'Flame', 'Rose Pink' etc.
Autumn Sage (reseeds modestly)

Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' etc.
Littleleaf Sage

Stachys albotomentosa 'Hidalgo'
=S. coccinea 'Hidalgo'
Seven-Up® Plant (reseeds modestly)

Flowers, offering beautiful colors and fragrances, give rise to joy. Get at least one of the preceding for yourself. All are classically good; some will romantically appeal to you.

(originally published in my July 28th 2008 newsletter)

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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