The Star Performers in my Garden


Every gardener will have her own “star performers.” These are the plants that we fall back on again and again because they work so well.

These are the plants that need little hands-on care, the plants that solve particular problems, and the plants that bring us pleasure with little pain (which is why–though I ADORE my roses–they are not on this list!).

Your own star performers will be different. They will depend on your climate, your garden style, and the challenges of your particular space. But it can be helpful to know about those plants that others have found especially useful.

I hope my star performers inspire a search for your own.

  • Nepeta (common name: catmint): I mostly grow a variety called ‘Walker’s Low,’ but there are many good ones to choose from. I love its minty scent, the way it spreads and covers a lot of ground, and the way its tall, wispy flower spikes seem to weave all the diverse plants in my garden together.
  • Verbena bonariensis: A vigorous self-seeder. The airy pinkish-purple flowers sit on long, narrow stems, waving in the breeze and attracting butterflies all summer long.
  • White Black-eyed Susan vine: Annual vines that are easy to grow from seeds are such gifts to the garden. I love this one for its pure white flowers. Grows over the course of the summer and by fall is simply covered in pretty little flowers.
  • Agastache foeniculum (Anise hyssop): Another easy-to-grow from seed plant, this one is perennial. Purple flower spikes (are you sensing a theme in my garden?), the scent is lovely and it supposedly makes a great tea. From the mint family.
  • Daffodils: Because they bloom early, deer and other animals don’t touch them, they are cheerful, and they come back year after year with no care at all.
  • Alliums: Few plants are as easy yet lend so much drama to the garden. You can plant “in the green” in spring by buying potted alliums, or plant the bulbs in fall in well-draining soil. The big purple and white balls even look great in the garden once they have dried and turned to seed.
  • Garlic chives: a wonderful cottage-garden plant. It seeds itself around, has beautiful white flowers in late summer (when many other plants have stopped blooming), and, like other garlic and onion plants, critters leave it alone.

Posted on

April 7, 2020

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