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Perennial & Annuals: Inspiration & Information!

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P1150029.JPGAre your green thumbs itching yet? I can hardly sit still these days with this warm weather and buds literally bursting as I peer out my window at the Hort Science Department Display Garden here on campus. I have started my mental list of things I need to do in my garden - they are in pretty good order - and wanted to share some resources particularly for ornamental perennials and annuals. In addition to great Extension publications on the University of Minnesota Extension website, here is a short list of some of my favorite ornamental perennial and annual plant resources:

Growing Perennials in Cold Climates
(2nd edition) by Mike Heger, Debbie Lonnee and John Whitman. I am a big user of web references, but this is one of my favorite reference books. In its second edition, this book is extremely well organized and provides care and maintenance about selected perennials including cultivar ratings by the authors. I have several copies of the first edition myself. Though only out since winter, this new edition is already well-used by the Master Gardeners at the Arboretum Yard & Garden Desk. This is an awesome reference / resource for perennials and one I definitely recommend.

Dividing Perennials
Found on the University's Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series website (SULIS), this publication, written by Molly Ferguson - U alum, landscape designer, and Master Gardener volunteer - contains solid information about dividing perennials. But the really great part of this publication is the extensive and printable chart Molly put together with specifics about dividing various perennials. A great handout for any gardener.
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Annuals (PM 1942) and Perennials for Sun (PM 1914) and Perennials for Shade (PM 1913). Written by friend and colleague, Cindy Haynes at Iowa State University Extension, these three small, inexpensive (about $5+S&H) and beautifully photographed books are part of a series of small paperback books about plant types for the home landscape.

Growing and Using Annuals and Bulbs (MSU #399): Written by a collaborative of MN and MI Extension faculty and printed / published by Michigan State University,  this former part of the UMN Extension Master Gardener notebook is still available for $2+S&H from MSU. Though an older publication, it still contains some good basic info for the home gardener. Information such as the reference list should include newer books, websites, blogs, etc., and that some of the cultivars listed may not be available anymore - and there are many more available today that would be good options.

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust provides great information about designing with and caring for perennials. However, it's the pictures of her garden that inspire me to re-design my garden. Tracy is a master at combining plants - large scale and small scale - for the maximum impact. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, go!

And of course, seeing is believing .... who doesn't like a field trip?

Noerenberg Gardens is part of the Three Parks District.
Located inP1020797.JPG Wayzata, MN, it is a smaller garden, and features amazing plant combinations that can be wild and dramatic, or elegant and formal. It's one of my favorite local gardens to visit and photograph. Being right along the shore of Lake Minnetonka (but you can't get there by boat - no docking is allowed), it has a long history in the lake area and startling arrays of plants and hardscape throughout the Minnesota growing season. I once asked curator Arla Carmichael if she ever covered plants in the winter and she said no - if a plant didn't make it, it was just an excuse to try something new. Thank you Arla, for supplying me with a perfect gardening philosophy.


The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
I would be remiss if I didn't mention our own University's Landscape Arboretum as one of my favorite resources for inspiring perennial and annual design. I am never without my camera and what a blast to head out with a built in excuse during the work day to shoot images of the immense collections of perennials and vast annual plantings that scream with color and texture. You nNever miss the opportunity to visit the Arb!

What are some of your favorite resources for perennials and annuals? Share below!

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