The 2018 Perennial of the Year will have both people and pollinators buzzing with joy! Allium ‘Millenium’ is a relative of the common onion and a standout in a late summer garden here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Blooming at a time when most of the garden begins to fade, it offers a welcome wave of color. It is a low maintenance, dependable perennial that puts out masses of purple blooms above neat, grass-like green foliage that remains long after the flower passes. Hummingbirds, bees, beneficial insects, and butterflies love the flowers, which are laden with pollen and nectar. They grow best in full sun and have a very drought resistant constitution. ‘Millenium’ will grow foliage around 10-15” tall with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch globes of purple florets that will last as long as four weeks.
‘Millenium’ will live happily in USDA zones 4-9. Once established, about the only maintenance it needs is cutting back foliage in late fall after the plants fade. A large mass of ‘Millenium’ looks amazing on it’s own, but it also plays well with others and looks great paired with numerous perennials. Shorter goldenrods like ‘Little Lemon’ in front and the lacy silver foliage of a Russian Sage behind, would make a lovely show in the garden.
2018 Perennial of the Year Allium ‘Millenium’
No serious pest problems have been reported. Leaf spot may occur in overcrowded growing conditions. Deer and rabbits leave ‘Millenium’ alone. Alliums are sometimes avoided due to their reseeding behavior. Fortunately ‘Millenium’ exhibits 50% reduced seed production, raising less concern for self-sown seedlings.
Allium ‘Millenium’ has a fibrous root structure forming an ornamental herbaceous clump easily propagated by division. Once in the garden, ‘Millenium’ can easily be lifted and divided in either spring or fall.
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)
USDA Hardiness Zones
The record warm temperatures that we are currently having in Moultonborough and the Lakes Region in general, may have you thinking about your garden instead of more traditional winter activities that should be happening now. Have you spent some time browsing through plant catalogs or garden design websites? Well, before you type in your credit card number and hit the “purchase” button on your keyboard hoping that the gorgeous blooms in those pictures will pop up in your garden this year, be sure you have read all of the fine print associated with the plant of your dreams. Most important of all of the information is the hardiness zone for each plant. What is our “zone” here in Moultonborough, NH and why does it matter when it comes to your garden?
The US Department of Agriculture produces a map for gardeners based on the average of low temperature readings taken from weather stations throughout the United States. The idea is to give the garden industry a way to communicate the cold hardiness of landscape plants. On the tags found on most plants, trees and shrubs, you will often see “hardy to zone ___”.
This is a great clue as to whether or not the plant is likely to survive in our area. In Moultonborough and most of the Lakes Region of New Hampshire we are somewhere between a zone 4 and 5. Your zone will have the USDA number and either an ‘a’ or a ‘b’ attached, with ‘a’ meaning that you are on the colder end of the zone and ‘b’ indicating that you are in slightly milder territory. The more protected and sunny a spot is, the more likely it is that a zone 5 plant will survive. And conversely, in a more exposed area it would be a safer bet to stick to zone 4 materials.
Winter is always slow to let go here in the Northeast. It may even still be snowing in April in some corners of the Lakes Region, but a good start to the gardening season involves getting your flowers early and acclimating them to spring’s uncertain temperatures so they are ready to explode into color as soon as possible. The last frost date varies from April 15 to May 15, but the number of nights below freezing will become fewer and fewer as April proceeds. Gardeners are often notorious for “pushing the zone” and trying a plant that isn’t necessarily hardy for their zone. Sometimes you get lucky and find the perfect spot where an unlikely plant just thrives! When our green thumbs start to itch early in the season we often start with container plants so that if Mother Nature sends a late season frost, we can easily move our plantings under cover. If you just can’t control yourself and dare to put them in the ground, just be aware that you may need to cover them if very cold temperatures are predicted.
Here is a list of some of the annuals we often start with that will generally tolerate spring’s cold and still flower all summer!
- Supertunia® Picasso in Pink® Petunia
- Superbena® Sparkling Ruby Verbena
- Superbells® Frostfire Calibrachoa
- Snow Princess® Lobularia
- Butterfly and Vanilla Butterfly® Argyranthemum
- Surefire® Red & Rose Begonia
- Diamond Frost® Euphorbia
- Señorita Blanca® Cleome
- Flirtation® Pink Diascia
- Illusion® series Ipomoea
The Miss Kim Lilac is a deciduous shrub with a beautiful light purple flower. It is a bit smaller than the common lilac (syringa vulgaris), but grows to be 4-9 feet tall and 5-7 feet wide. It loves full sun and requires low maintenance and medium water.
Drop one or two into an existing landscape or create a lush and lovely hedge. The bloom is heavily scented and the leaves take on a burgundy tint in the fall. A real late spring superstar!
Contact Miracle Farms Landscaping today for more information on the Miss Kim Lilac.
Geranium Rozanne: Not to be confused with the annual Pelargonium geraniums seen in containers everywhere, the blooms of this perennial are a beautiful violet-blue with a white center. Cranesbill, as it is more commonly known, provides a long-blooming, prolific blue flower that works well in borders, rock or cottage gardens, patio planters, and containers and do best when grown in mass. They are a full sun/partial shade plant and prefer a fertile moist soil, and will grow to be around a foot and a half tall and 2 feet wide. It is a very low maintenance plant and requires a medium amount of watering. Flowers will continue through the heat of mid-summer. Call and make an appointment today to have some of these blue beauties added to your garden for a summer filled with endless color.
Shhh…. It’s a secret!
It’s actually no secret at all that some of the best selling perennials on the market today are coneflowers. They are hardy and showy and easy to grow. What might just be new to you though, is the Echinacea ‘secret series’: Secret Affair, Secret Glow and Secret Love. These varieties all produce large double blooms on strong plants with a sturdy, medium habit. The flowers have a rich color that can last until the frost. Secret Affair is a mauve-rose, Secret Glow is a bright school bus yellow, and Secret Love is a pure, strong red. The blooms stand out in a garden averaging 35 large flowers per plant.
They are hardy in zones 4-10 and grow about 2 feet tall in full sun.
This is a secret you will want to share!
If you want to know when to sow, take off your trousers and sit on the ground!
If you are anything like me you are probably anxiously watching the ever-incorrect weather reports to determine if it is safe to start planting yet. There are lots of guidelines people seem to go by to declare open season in the garden. Some are a bit more reliable than others, but my favorite is based on the wives tale above. Back in the day, before there were reliable means to measure the temperature of the soil, feeling the bare soil with tender flesh was a great way to find out if it was warm enough. I suppose seeing the gardener in this precarious position in your parsley patch didn’t go over very well so a more politically correct version of the soil test was developed – stick your elbow in the soil instead.
The best thing to do, as hard as it is, is wait until the last chance of frost has passed, unless you have the ability to cover tender plants overnight.