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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – December 23

Plant and Forget Perennial Gardens

Perennials come up every year, so they’re really low-maintenance, right? Wrong. Terribly, horribly incorrect.

Yet this is not only a commonly held belief, but a widespread practice as well. Many people treat perennial beds as plant-and-forget gardens. All too often from the second year on these gardens look like they’ve been forgotten.

The weeds move in, the perennials that are thugs spread aggressively, self-seeders sprout in all the wrong places and the weaker plants give up and die. What you end up with isn’t a garden or even a wildflower meadow. What you have is a mess.

Truth time: perennials are wonderful, but most perennial beds are the most high maintenance gardens you can plant.

If you’re willing to do what it takes, these gardens are both beautiful and rewarding. They change with the seasons producing a kaleidoscope of flower and foliage colors. Perennials come in all sizes, shapes, textures and colors. Frankly, the fact that these plants usually return year after year is the least interesting aspect of their existence.

Perennials not only vary in their appearance, but they differ in cultural requirements as well. One can be ignored while another needs frequent editing. This plant thrives in sun while that one grows well in shade. Some prefer constant moisture, others like drought. In other words, they demand that you keep your eyes and mind open. They require that you pay attention.

Ignore a perennial garden and you get a muddle. Take notice and you cultivate mindfulness.

Which is a perennial and which is a weed?

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