Top area landscape designers reveal their favorite perennials and tell us why they are a perfect choice for your Hudson Valley/Connecticut outdoor spaces.
Text by Dennis Ferrose
There are quite a few great publications and online resources available for the gardening enthusiast looking to expand his or her knowledge of the latest and greatest in the horticulture world. But as our readers already know, this magazine is quite different. Outdoor Home is an outdoor living design and lifestyle magazine for NY and CT residents—more focused on creating and enjoying amazing outdoor living spaces that extend the home beyond the interior walls. That said, we of course recognize that plantings are a huge part of creating truly stylish and livable outdoor rooms.
So in honor of kicking off the growing season here in the Northeast, we decided to catch up with some of our area’s best landscape design pros to get an insider’s look at some of the best plants for 2015. We asked the designers a very tough to narrow down question—name your three favorite perennials. After all, what better way to get great, reliable plant picks than going directly to the talented folks that design and build beautiful landscapes right here in the NY/CT area?
After narrowing down the many suggestions, we put together a list of five perennials handpicked by the local pros! Can these time-tested beauties add pop to your outdoor living spaces?
CATMINT (NEPETA) “This plant is what I call the Poor Man’s Lavender,” says Rick King, Project Manager at Hoffman Landscapes in Wilton, CT. “True Lavender is difficult to grow in our zones 5 and 6, so Nepeta is a great substitute.” Pete Nilsesturn, owner of Landworx of NY in Goshen, NY, explains “Catmint provides very nice color during the summer with long bloom times.” There are many varieties of Catmint available, making this perennial very versatile in the design of outdoor spaces. It is also considered deer resistant.
SIBERIAN IRIS (IRIS SIBIRICA) A very distinct perennial, Iris is often identified by its grassy, spikey foliage. “Iris comes in many different varieties, but I prefer the Siberian Iris,” explains Hoffman Landscape’s Rick King. Rick likes the wide variety of available colors including blue, purple, white, pink, and yellow. Also a favorite of Brian Higley, landscape architect in Cold Spring, NY, he explains that the foliage of the Siberian Iris is “punk and spikey all season and combines well with many other plants. I also find them way tougher and versatile than descriptions indicate.”
BEE BALM (MONARDA DIDYMA) Looking to attract the ever-elusive hummingbird? Planting some Bee Balm is a great place to start. “For me, I always want to know how can I design and create a naturally beautiful, sustainable garden with long blooming color which will also attract ecologically valuable wildlife (preferably without deer),” says Jay Archer, President of Green Jay Landscaping in Westchester, NY. The unusually shaped flowers of Monarda sit atop strong stems and are available in pink, red, and purple.
BUGBANE (CIMICIFUGA RAMOSE) The talented folks at Austin Ganim Landscape Design in Fairfield, CT admit that because they love plants so much, they can be a bit chatty about them. After an office poll, Bugbane made it to their list of favorite perennials. Bugbane is a deer-resistant perennial that stands 3’-4’ with bloom colors of white, cream, or pale pink. Bottlebrush-like flowers emerge in late summer and continue into fall, standing several feet above the foliage. “Its stature makes it perfect for the back of a perennial border and it easily mixes with shrubs in a woodland garden,” explains Eva Chiamulera, a landscape architect for the firm. “Our favorite pink flowering form is ‘Pink Spike’ and for a fantastic color contrast ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ has a bright white flower against dark purple foliage.”
RUSSIAN SAGE(PEROVSKIA ATRIPLICIFOLIA) The tall, soft lavender colored wands of the Russian Sage plant dancing around in the breeze is a beautiful sight to see. The ‘Little Spire’ variety of this 2’-4’ tall woody perennial made Jan Johnsen of Johnsen Landscapes and Pools top three list for deer resistant choices. Also selected as a favorite of Penny Augustine, owner of Augustine Nursery in Kingston, NY—Penny adds, “The great color and long-lasting bloom makes Russian Sage ideal for plantings around outdoor patios and sitting areas.”