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I love asking gardeners what their favorite plant is. It’s an unfair question, I know, and on any given day my answer could be any number of things, but I think it’s an interesting exercise.

I reached out to some garden blogging friends to see what their favorite perennial is and here’s what they said.

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‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peony. Garden Matter photo

Patti, who gardens in Pittsburgh (zone 6a) and blogs at Garden Matter , said peonies are her favorite.

“They are one of the first flowers I fell in love with in my grandmother’s garden as a kid,” she wrote. “I love the way they smell and come back with ease every year. They also dry pretty well.”

When I pressed her on a specific peony, she chose a classic: ‘Sarah Bernhardt.’

“To be honest, I really love the old heirloom handed-down ones, though they are all wonderful. Since they are herbaceous, how about ‘Sarah Bernhardt,’ a very pretty and fragrant variety.”

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‘Green Mystique’ daylily. Sensible Gardening photo

Lynne at Sensible Gardening, who gardens in beautiful southern British Columbia (zone 5) chose another garden classic: the daylily. Here’s what she had to say about them:

When my friend Erin asked me what my favorite perennial was I didn’t even have to think about it. I have been addicted to Daylilies for decades and simply cannot get enough of them. I started to collect different cultivars several years ago and now have over 350 varieties throughout my zone 5 garden in southern B.C., Canada.  I love all the colors, shapes, edges, ruffles, singles, doubles and eyes. As you can see I am a lost cause. You can find great daylily growing tips and more on my site Sensible Gardening.

Daylilies are often called the perfect perennial and for good reason. Such beautiful blooms are part of strong, hardy and adaptable plants. Rarely bothered by disease or pests, available for growing in zones 2 through 9, long lasting attractive foliage, capable of growing in even undesirable conditions, what’s not to love? There are tall varieties for the back of the border and shorter types to be used as edgers or grown in containers. Some cultivars bloom in July and others wait until the fall so you can have daylily flowers for a very long season. Grow them in sun or part shade using average soil and water. Your best resource for buying daylilies is on-line sites from daylily growers. Daylilies travel exceptionally well so mail order buying is a breeze.

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Jami provide me with this gorgeous photo of a brunnera, which I think is ‘Haspen Cream.’ An Oregon Cottage photo
Jami, who is fortunate to garden in the Pacific Northwest (zone 8), and blogs at An Oregon Cottage (check out her great preserving recipes), chose a fantastic shade plant: brunnera. Here’s what she said about it:
It’s not easy to pick just one perennial (I have favorites for each season!), but in spring it’s all about brunnera for me. I love it! It grows in tough dry shade situations and blooms its little head off for 3 to 4 months with sweet blue forget-me-not type flowers, and then stays nice and green until frost (in mild areas it’s almost evergreen). 
While common brunnera is nice, (though it maybe reseeds just a bit too much), ‘Jack Frost’ is well-behaved and it’s variegated leaves practically glow in it’s preferred shaded location. All this with no special treatment other than an annual layer of compost and watering in the summer. What is not to love?

Here’s ‘Jack Frost’ growing in my garden at the beginning of its second year.

Last year I great this ‘Silver Hearts’ brunnera and it was truly metallic silver! If it overwintered well this will be my vote for my favorite brunnera.

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Lovely Greens photo

Tanya at Lovely Greens, who gardens on the Isle of Man (lucky girl; Tanya, we’re all coming to visit!) came up with a fantastic choice that I love because it’s so unusual.

“My favorite perennials are perennial fruits like raspberries, blueberries and thornless black berries,” she wrote. One could hardly argue with that.

One of the things she said she likes best about them, other than the delicious part, is how easy they are to propagate from cuttings. Tanya has a fantastic tutorial on the process on her blog.

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Garden Therapy photo

Stephanie at Garden Therapy, also from Vancouver, British Columbia said she’s a fan of lavender and not just because it’s beautiful. “There’s just so much you can make from it,” she said.

Stephanie said she prefers English lavender. In my zone 5 garden (Stephanie is in zone 7/8), I have had good luck the past couple years with ‘Phenomenal’ lavender (affiliate link). Whatever kind of lavender you grow, check out Stephanie’s suggestions for all the things you can do with it.

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It wouldn’t be fair to put all these folks on the spot if I didn’t chime in with my pick for a favorite perennial. There are so many on that list, but for all around performance, I think I have to go back to the top one on this list: Alchemilla mollis, aka Lady’s mantel. It’s nothing fancy, and it will probably never stop you in your tracks, but it is a great performer. Year after year it just does its thing with absolutely zero attention from me. I clean it up when the flowers fade, and a little bit in fall and that’s it. The flowers are one of my favorite to add to bouquets and offers great front-of-the-border texture.

So now, dear readers, I turn it over to you. What’s your favorite perennial?

Here are some other favorite perennial picks from gardening experts

Richard Hawke leads the plant trials program at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Here some of his favorites. 

And here are even more picks from great garden bloggers.

7 Responses

  1. Love this! It's always fun to hear about the favorites of other gardeners. From the list I'd have to go with raspberries – yum! For my spring pick I'd choose Firewitch Dianthus. In my last house I had a planting of it with May Night Salvia and Allium moly. What a great combo! I'm a member of the Garden Foxes and will share this post on my Facebook page this week. Happy spring.

  2. Yes, totally impossible to choose. Like you, I'd probably come up with a different answer on any given day. I tend to have at least one plant that I 'discover' every year and then go mad and get several different varieties. Last year it was Sanguisorba.. so I'll go with that!

  3. Impossible to choose. But Iris reticulata are blooming now. Brunnera are showing, Hellebore buds are up, and all the woodland Peonies are up an inch or so. Everywhere I look I see a favorite. But I do need to add some more Alchemilla. I pulled a bunch out and did not leave enough. They are really beautiful and those flowers go with everything.

  4. Love them all! I have Brunnera already blooming in the garden. The chartreuse color of Lady's Mantle flowers looks great in a centerpiece. I especially love it with purple. Daylilies and lavender, can't have enough and well, the only perennial fruit I have is strawberries so I guess I better get moving on that one. Great post!

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