AND THE WINNER IS… 2017 PERENNIAL OF THE YEAR
The Perfect Perennial for Lakes Region Gardens
Asclepias tuberosa – butterfly weed
With all the ”buzz” about bees and butterflies, BUTTERFLY WEED is an excellent plant choice for the 2017 Perennial of the Year. Known for its ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for the beloved North American native Monarch butterfly, it puts out 3 months of tangerine/orange blooms on perfect little upright shrubs 24” tall and wide.
Hummingbirds, bees, beneficial insects, and other butterflies also love the flowers, which are laden with pollen and nectar. They grow best in full sun, are deer resistant, and tolerant of wet or dry soils. They are hardy to zones 3-9, and native throughout almost all of the Eastern states.
Since Asclepias tuberosa is a native prairie plant, butterfly weed is quite comfortable in meadow gardens, native plantings and wildlife sanctuaries but is finding its way into more formal to semi-formal urban gardens. Plant it in large masses, for an unrivaled display of eye-popping orange. Butterfly weed pairs well with summer blooming Phlox, Hemerocallis, Liatris, Echinacea, Salvia, and most of June/July sun-loving perennials.
The Perennial Plant of the Year showcases a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. At Miracle Farms we often chose plants on the list of past Perennial of the Year winners to be reliable bloomers year after year.
Here is the list we often choose from:
Previous PPA Perennial Plant of the Year winners:
- 2016 Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ (windflower)
- 2015 Geranium ‘Biokova’ (dwarf cranesbill, hardy geranium)
- 2014 Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (tall switch grass)
- 2013 Polygonatum odoratum variegatum (Solomon’s seal)
- 2012 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss)
- 2011 Amsonia hubrichtii (blue star)
- 2010 Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)
- 2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Japanese forest grass)
- 2008 Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (cranesbill, hardy geranium)
- 2007 Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint)
- 2006 Dianthus ‘Feuerhexe’ (aka ‘Firewitch’) (cheddar pink)
- 2005 Helleborus x hybridus (hellebore, Lenten rose)
- 2004 Athyrium niponicum pictum (Japanese painted fern)
- 2003 Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ (shasta daisy)
- 2002 Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (garden phlox)
- 2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass)
- 2000 Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ (pincushion flower)
- 1999 Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (black-eyed Susan)
- 1998 Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ (purple coneflower)
- 1997 Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (aka ‘May Night’ ) (wood sage)
- 1996 Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (beardtongue)
- 1995 Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
- 1994 Astilbe ‘Sprite’ (dwarf astilbe)
- 1993 Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’ (speedwell)
- 1992 Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (threadleaf coreopsis)
- 1991 Heuchera micrantha diversifolia ‘Palace Purple’ (coral bells)
- 1990 Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)
Some of us received beautiful hanging baskets as long ago as Mother’s Day. Keeping them fresh and flowering throughout our very changeable growing season here in the Lakes Region can be a challenge. As the heat and dryness of summer bears down on us, hanging baskets can start to decline. But with these basic techniques your baskets can look great all season long.
1. Water, water, water
Baskets can dry out quickly, and should be checked twice daily and watered every day; be sure to wet the moss sides as well. If you are seriously dedicated, once a week, take the basket down and soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes to hydrate the entire root ball.
Remove spent flowers, or deadheading, on a weekly basis, prevents plants from going to seed. This will encourage more flower production. Part of the beauty of the mixed basket is its prolonged and varied display.
3. Check for pests
During your weekly deadheading, keep a watchful eye out for aphids, whiteflies and other unfortunate pests. If you see any, try a quick spray of insecticidal soap to keep them from becoming problematic.
Not every plant in the basket will be at its peak all season. Cutting plants back after a flush of bloom will tidy them up and prepare them for a fresh crop of flowers. Meanwhile, other varieties will begin putting on a show. If the entire basket seems to be “flat lining”, go ahead and give the whole thing a trim. If you fertilize it heavily, in a couple of weeks it should be full of buds again.
Daily watering means nutrients can be leached out of the soil before the plants can absorb them. We like to use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow once a week to keep plants thriving.
midsummer hanging baskets
During stretches of extreme heat, give your baskets a break and move them to a cooler, shaded spot to de-stress for a couple of days; likewise when heading on vacation. Your baskets will appreciate it.
June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Why should I care you ask? Here are some very good reasons why.
- About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
- Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.
- Pollinators are often keystone species, meaning that they are critical to an ecosystem. The work of pollinators ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants everywhere.
The Pollinator Partnership has a series of guides that will help gardeners around the country select plants for their area by simply putting in your zip code. It does a good job of explaining the different types of pollinators and their habitat requirements. It takes more than flowers to keep these populations healthy. There are also many shrubs listed that will also get the bees buzzing.
We want to remind you not to freak out if you see a caterpillar munching on your plants. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to see butterflies, you need to let the caterpillars eat. Don’t get terribly concerned – in most cases a few nibbles on a leaf won’t kill your plants. Relax. Someday that caterpillar will be a beautiful butterfly.
Do your part. Plant something in your garden today that will benefit pollinators. Butterflies love yellow, orange and red, while hummingbirds are attracted to red, fuschia and purple.
If there is one perennial that you can count on, it has to be the daylily. We’re not talking about the plain old orange variety you see along New Hampshire roadsides throughout the summer. The hemerocalis comes in many colors and sizes and most bloom for several weeks adding beauty to your Lakes Region garden. They are well suited to fill in wherever needed in your garden or landscape. Plant small groups of daylilies in a landscape for a burst of mid-summer color. Shorter varieties make a great addition to a perennial border. In large group plantings they work well to suppress weed growth. They are low maintenance plants that are very tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions Here in the Lakes Region daylilies can be successfully planted between April and October where soil temperatures will allow for strong root development before winter. Daylilies will benefit from being divided every few years preferably in the spring while the plants are still small. To do this, you dig up the entire clump, hose a lot of the dirt off of the root ball and divide it into sections using a sharp knife. You will have plenty of new plants to replant around your garden or to share with friends. Daylilies are a powerhouse perennial that are practically trouble free and compliment most any garden or landscape.
A beautiful Daylily in Full bloom!
Daylily Grown in Lakes Region
A beautiful Daylily in Full bloom!
FEELING BLUE?…or maybe pink? Or something in between? What you need is an Endless Summer Hydrangea. This repeat bloomer offers gardeners gorgeous color all season long. They are a winner in a foundation planting or in a container. They even make a gorgeous cut flower centerpiece.
Speaking of color – did you know that you can change the color of the bloom on your Endless Summer Hydrangea? You can change your hydrangea color by changing the ph of the soil. Pink to blue – add aluminum sulfate to the soil around the plant, blue to pink – add lime. These products are available packaged specifically to change hydrangea color at your local garden store.
In our zone the Endless Summer Hydrangea will perform best with at least 6 hours of sun. In winter they will benefit from having the crown of the plant covered with a wood and/or leaf mulch through May to help protect the buds and any new growth from a late freeze.
Give MFL a call when you’re ready to add a pinch of Endless Summer color to your landscape.
Here at Miracle Farms we are strong believers of giving back to the community. We try to help and make a different in any way that is possible. All of our MFL employees are proud to say that each week they donate five dollars to the Lakes Region United Way. We also donate to The Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County, The Circle Program, Moultonborough United Methodist Church, Moultonborough Women’s Club, multiple sports teams and many more local charities. We hope to make a difference in peoples lives by paying it forward to the best of our ability. Below are a few appreciation letters that were written to us.
“The Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County would like to thank you for the very generous donation. Your financial contribution and support is greatly appreciated! Thank you for partnering with us in our mission to protect children and promote justice.” -Child Advocacy Center, Elizabeth Kelley, Executive Director
“Thank you again for all you do to support our extraordinary work with New Hampshire girls. It is a joy to see these young women reach they’re full potential and become valued, contributing members of our community. Thank you again for their prosperity and ours.” -Circle Program, Kathleen M. Kearns, Executive Director
“Thank you for your generous support as a Tee Sponsor of the Winnipesaukee Wellness Center’s 11th Annual Fall Charity Golf Classic.” -LRGHealthcare, William Parkinson, Director of Philanthropy
“I would like to sincerely thank you and your family for your generous donation of funds to the Moultonborough Academy Athletic Department.” -Moultonborough Academy, Harry Blood, Athletic Director