Baptista - Also called false indigo for the rich blue shade of its flowers, this hardy perennial fills the spring garden with elegant spires of pealike blooms. It withstands drought -- and deer, rabbits, and other critters leave it alone. The bluish-green foliage looks great all summer long, and the charcoal-black seedpods create fun contrast in fall. Name: Baptisia australis Zones: 3-8
Perennial Geranium Also called cranesbill for the shape of its seedpods, perennial geranium makes a great groundcover on sites with clay soil. It grows in full sun to part shade, and blooms profusely in spring. Some varieties continue to bloom throughout the summer. Many develop wonderful fall color to boot. Name: Geranium selections Zones: 3-9
As a horticulturist, I often find myself recommending plants to people. I feel bad when I get asked for the impossible plants; something like an evergreen that flowers all year long, is hardy in Zone 3, loves deep shade, and deer won’t eat it. There is one incredible flower that I frequently recommend, though, because [...]
Amsonia A tough, but sadly underused perennial, amsonia produces clusters of sky-blue flowers in late spring. It's not just a one-season wonder, though. In autumn, its foliage turns brilliant shades of gold -- enough to rival many of the trees when they put on their fall finery. Name: Amsonia tabernaemontana Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: To 2 feet tall I want some of this for the front yard!
Columbine Easy to grow and beautiful, columbine blooms in spring and early summer. The colorful blooms are loved by hummingbirds and gardeners alike. Name: Aquilegia varieties Growing conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil Height: To 3 feet tall Zones: 3-9, depending on variety
Lilac There's no sweeter spring fragrance than the blooms of this cottage-garden favorite. Lilac varieties come in all shapes and sizes, from dwarf shrubs to taller trees. One tip: The lilac blooms on old wood, so hold off on pruning until right after the same year's flowering is finished. Name: Syringa vulgaris Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil Size: To 20 feet tall and wide Zones: 4-8