Favourite perennials and annuals this summer

Even though our summer was hot and sunny with very little rain, most of the perennials and annuals in my and my clients’ gardens were beautiful here in zone 5.  Here are a few of my favourites…


Although we are currently well into September, many of these continue to bloom.  The peach colored shrub rose, for example, has been blooming all summer in a pot on my back deck with lots of buds, promising even more blooms

The WOW factor in gardening

What is the WOW factor in gardening, and how do you achieve it?   I call the WOW factor a feature that literally makes me stop in my tracks (or my car)  to admire a plant or group of plants, then dash for my camera.  Wow factors are achieved by choosing what I call a specimen plant (unique or different, and planted singly) as opposed to a common plant (one that everyone else has in their garden, planted in multiple spots throughout the garden)  Choose a plant hardy to your garden zone and give it the conditions and space it requires to achieve greatness.  It may take a few years after planting, but patience will reward you!

I have seen two of these WOW factors recently, one driving from a client’s garden and the second in a client’s garden…

joe pye weed

I had to stop my car and take a picture of this first one on my way home one day.  Although it is called Joe Pye weed, it is a spectacular perennial garden plant and not a weed in my opinion.  It measures approximately 7 feet in height here, but can get to 12 feet in ideal conditions and looks best as featured here, in a large clump at the back of a border.  Joe Pye weed likes moist soil of average to rich conditions.  It will tolerate wet soil, but not overly dry soil.  It is hardy in zones 4 through 9 and prefers full sun to part shade.  Joe Pye weed will attract butterflies to your garden too.  Joe Pye weed requires very little maintenance.  It dies to the ground in the late fall and can be divided in the spring if the clump gets too large.  Be sure to give it lots of space in your garden!

This second WOW moment happened this week in a client’s garden.  This ornamental fountain grass peaks this time of year, producing large bottlebrush like pinkish plumes that glisten early in the morning when still coated with dew or after a rain…

I have one of these grasses in my own garden, (third picture) but it is no way near the size of the one I planted in this client’s garden.  Although I thought I gave it plenty of room to spread out when planted three years ago, it is crowding a magnolia tree on the left and a shrub rose on the right, both of which can be pruned to accommodate the grass.  This plant is a fountain grass, preferring hot dry sunny locations, hardy from zones 4 through 9.  It should be cut down to the ground after the ground freezes or first thing in the spring before new growth appears.

Create your own WOW factor in your garden and send me some pictures!

Gardens4u presents Joe Pye Weed, a late blooming perennial for your garden

I literally did a double take when I saw this absolutely gorgeous large cluster of Joe Pye Weed while driving home from a client’s garden.  I pulled a U turn and went back to take a picture…

joe pye weed

I have never seen such a beautiful display of Joe Pye Weed. Joe Pye weed, also called Eutrochium,  is a perennial related to sunflowers.  It is a late bloomer, perfect as a tall accent in your late summer and fall gardens.  It is also available in a dwarf form, but cannot imagine a shorter version creating the same impact.  Grown in full sun it needs moist soil, but it prefers part sun to part shade conditions where it will tolerate less moisture.  I have some growing in part shade in my garden, but mine is not nearly as striking, so will try some in a sunnier spot too.  Joe Pye Weed is hardy to zone 5, which means protection from cold north winds in my Kanata Ontario gardens.

Pick up a Joe Pye Weed perennial from the garden center nearest you to add some late colour to your gardens.  It also propagates easily from seed, so if you know of anyone that has some, ask them to share some seeds.  Just sprinkle the seeds where you would like the plant to grow, water well and wait until next season.