Stuck for a plant idea? Here are 25 inspiring perennial winners

Fern close-up

Japanese Painted Fern – 2004 Perennial Plant of the Year

I can stand, staring at one spot in a garden bed, for a long time. Too long, really. You’d think that, after some years of designing gardens and nurturing plants, deciding on what to stick in a bare spot wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. But sometimes, for all the pondering, coming up with an idea of what to plant can leave me with a huge brain freeze. Then I stumbled on this handy archive of 25 perennials–all tried-and-true plants. Many will be familiar to anyone who has stalked the aisles of garden centres. All are why-didn’t-I-think-of-that plants.

Going through this archive of past Perennial Plant of the Year™ winners, from 1990 to 2015, is a great way to get the old creative juices flowing again. Each plant was deemed a winner by members of the Ohio-based Perennial Plant Association. From lush, leafy plants like ornamental grass (Hakonechloa macro ‘Aureola’, 2009’s winner) and fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’, winner in 2004) to country cottage garden classics like daisies (Leucanthemum ‘Becky’, 2003) and Coral Bells (Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’, 1991), each winner needed to meet easy-on-the-shopper criteria including:

• Suitable for a wide range of climates

• Low-maintenance

• Relatively low pest- and disease resistance

• Multiple seasons of ornamental interest

So who’s the lucky winner this year? Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ has pink-white flowers in spring and reddish orange leaf colour in the fall. It does well in a lightly shaded or partly sunny spot and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 which translates to just about anywhere in Southern Ontario.

The PPA suggests planting some of these beauties alongside Japanese painted fern (see above), winner in 2004. Don’t mind if I do.


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