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The Perennial Garden begins with some thought to design and the kind of plants you want to grow. It can sometimes be quite overwhelming for the new gardener to know which perennials to choose. First of all, take into consideration whether your garden is in full sun, part sun or full shade. Next, whether youíre ordering your perennials online or visiting a nursery, be sure to take into consideration the height and size of the plants you buy. Remember: tall plants go in the back, medium height plants in the middle and low growing perennials go in the front of your garden. The perennial garden also requires some patience. It takes time for most perennial plants to reach their full size (ďthe first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap.Ē) If youíre the impatient type, consider filling in with colorful annuals the first year or two. Most perennials will reward you greatly the second or third year after theyíre planted. Another tip is to practice restraint. Many beginners are so excited when they start out that they overdo it and come home with trunk loads of plants that they donít have room for in their perennial garden. So while overall design, color, height and time of bloom should be considered, the most important thing is to have fun.

Outline the shape of your perennial garden bed with a garden hose and eliminate any weeds actively growing. If you use an herbicide to kill the weeds, you will need to wait 7-14 days before tilling the ground. Perennials need well-drained soil, so avoid planting in low-lying areas. If you donít have an area with good drainage, you can build a raised bed with landscape bricks, timbers or rocks. Although there are some perennials that can take more water than others, many perennials are killed by too-wet soil than by frigid winter temperatures. Next, add lots of organic matter to your perennial garden bed. You will be very glad you didnít skip this step later on. Organic matter helps improve the aeration of heavy clay soils and improves moisture and nutrient retention in sandy soils. Organic materials to add include peat moss, compost, manure, mushroom compost, leaf compost and composted bark. Once you till the organic matter into the soil, you are ready to plant your perennials. Most perennials donít require a lot of fertilization if you have prepared your bed properly. Do add about two inches of mulch to your perennial garden right after planting. Soak the plants with water after planting and then check regularly thereafter. A general rule of thumb is less frequent but deep watering is best. This will allow perennials to grow more deeply and handle drought conditions.

Perennials can be chosen for specific purposes. If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, consider planting bee balm, coral bells, daylilies, bugleweed, bellflower, delphinium, lupine, bleeding heart or pinks. To attract butterflies, be sure to add a butterfly bush to your landscape and add yarrow, butterfly weed, coneflower, catmint, phlox, sweet marjoram, black eyed susan and goldenrod.


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