16540 Chillicothe Road
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023
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 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year Announced

 Since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has been showcasing standout perennial plants with their annual Perennial Plant of the Year (POY) selections.  Perennials selected obviously need to be attractive but (considering this being a national selection) must also be adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions, require little or no maintenance, have multiple seasons of interest and be relatively pest and disease free.  Sounds like a good list of plants to use in your gardens doesn’t it!    

Every summer, the PPA asks its members to vote for the plant they think deserves the honor of plant of the year and also nominate up to 2 plants for future consideration.  The association has a wide range of members including growers, propagators, retailers and lots of folks who just love perennials.  A committee reviews the nominations (up to 400 in some years) providing 3 or 4 of the most popular suggestions that appear on the POY ballot the following year.

In 23 years the PPA has accumulated a list of must have, perennial plants that any gardener can plant with confidence. 

 1990  Phlox stolonifera  Creeping Phlox

 1991  Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' Coral Bells

 1992 Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' Tickseed

 1993  Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' Speedwell

 1994  Astilbe 'Sprite'
1995 
Perovskia atriplicifolia  Russian Sage

1996  Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' Beard Tongue

1997 Salvia 'Mainacht' May Night’

1998 Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus’  Coneflower

1999 Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm’  Black Eyed Susan

2000  Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue’ Pincushion

2001 Calamagrostis xacutiflora 'Karl Foerster’ Reed Grass

2002 Phlox 'David' Garden Phlox
2003
Leucanthemum 'Becky' Daisy
2004
Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum'  Japanese Painted Fern

2005 Helleborus xhybridus  Lenten Rose

2006 Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Feuerhexe'  Firewitch Pinks
2007  Nepeta 'Walker's Low'  Catmint
2008
Geranium 'Rozanne'

2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola  Hakone Grass

2010 Baptisia australis  False Indigo
2011
Amsonia hubrichtii  Blue Star
2012
Brunnera 'Jack Frost'  Chinese Forget Me Not

 

 The 2013 PPA Plant of the Year is Polygonatum odoratum, pronounced

po-lig-o-nay’tum o-do-ray’tum vair-e-ah-gay’tum.  Commonly known as Variegated Solomon’s Seal, this tough, deer resistant perennial is attractive for the entire growing season with striking, white and green striped foliage that grows 18-24” tall.  Greenish-white flowers appear in late spring and dangle from the lower portion of the upright arching stems. The plant has an attractive yellow fall color and prefers to grow in moist soils in partial to full shade.  Best planted in groups, the spreading clumps form rhizomes are easily divided and transplanted in spring or fall.  We utilize this plant often in perennial and woodland garden areas where a strong, upright shaped plant  is desired.  We also suggest Variegated Solomon’s Seal for foundation plantings when a shade plant is needed to brighten a dark corner under trees or in cases where there isn’t room for a shrub to be planted.  The attractive foliage is also suitable as a long lasting cut flower.  This isn’t a plant that will knock your socks off when you see it in the garden center but when seen in gardens along with Ferns, Hosta and other woodland plants, Variegated Solomon’s Seal is a standout plant bringing interesting shape, color and texture to any shady garden space.

 It may be too early to plant but it is a great time to plan for this seasons plantings.  By using these plants in your plans you will be well on your way to a beautiful and easy care garden.

Now go outside and (think about) having fun in the dirt.



 

            Perhaps the better question we may ask is “When is fall?”   Ask 20 folks and you may get 20 different answers; “When football season begins,” “When pumpkins turn orange and leaves turn red” or “When I get stuck driving behind school buses again.”  Whatever you associate with the beginning of autumn, from a gardeners perspective, fall typically begins on August 15th.  Why August 15th?  First off, this is the time of year when we typically begin to see a break in high summer temperatures towards cooler, more comfortable weather.  Precipitation typically becomes more consistent and plants in the landscape slow in their apparent growth focusing their energies towards root development in preparation for the upcoming winter months. 

            All these conditions favor landscape planting and gardening activities.  Let’s take a look around the yard and see specifically why fall, in fact, is for planting.

 

Lawns

            This is the ideal time to make all types of lawn improvements.  Grass is still actively growing so fertilizing now will improve turf immediately.  Weeds can be controlled with selective herbicides and fast growing turf will help choke out these weeds and fill in the voids left behind.  Our warm soils will quickly germinate grass seeds in bare spots or in new lawn installations.  Aeration now will help develop a more durable turf down the road and now is the ideal time to thatch lawns that are choked with thick mats of dead grass at the soil surface.   Finally, by planting grass now your new lawn can take hold before trees drop their leaves which can be stressful on newly sprouted grass plants.  

 

Perennials

            Many of your perennials may look sad this time of year but make no mistake… they are still hard at work growing strong roots that will drive their growth and performance next year.  Fertilize them now while they are actively growing and you will see the results next spring.  (Use organic Plant-Tone or Flower-Tone fertilizers) This is the ideal time to divide and transplant most all spring flowering perennials.  Peonies, Poppies, Iris and Bleeding Hearts divided/transplanted now still have plenty of time to “root-in” before winter arrives.  Of course, any potted perennial can be planted now and will benefit from the warm soil, frequent rains and cool temperatures of fall.

 

Vegetables

            Most of us have put the vegetable planting in the rear view mirror but there is still time to grow some nice fall crops.  Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, PeasRadishes, Salad Greens and Spinach can still be successfully grown by seed.  Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi and Swiss Chard can be grown by starter plants.  Garlic and scallions can be planted now by bulbs.  Even if you do not choose to plant fall veggies now is the ideal time to build your garden soils while they are dry and easily worked.  Test your soil for nutrient levels and Ph and adjust accordingly.  Eliminate all weeds and work compost into your garden so you can be ready to plant first thing next spring.

 

Shrubs and Trees

            While there are some plants that are sensitive to fall transplanting, autumn is an ideal time to plan and plant your landscape.  Cooler temperatures mean less transplant shock and, now that most plants can be harvested, there is a wide variety of plant material available. 

 

            So many folks have asked me “What is the best time for planting?”  Well, I came across a few quotes that can spell it out much better than I ever could; "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  Les Brown
            “
A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”  - D. Elton Trueblood
            “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” - Chinese Proverb

 

Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!