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Small Garden Perennials

Top 10 perennials for a small garden

By Maureen Gilmer, landscape designer, author and columnist

Herbaceous perennials are without question the best plants for small gardens because they lack woody parts and are more adaptable to odd sized areas. In larger spaces you would plant them in groups, but here, each one becomes a gem to grow and bloom by itself or with a friend.

Top 10 Perennials for a Small Garden

Thrift Armeria meritima

Johnsons' Blue Cranesbill Geranium hybrids

Avens Hybrids Geum hybrids

Cheddar Pink Hybrids Dianthus gratianopolitanus

Dwarf Daylilies Hemerocallis hybrids

Spanish Lavender Lavandula stoechas

Stonecrop Sedum spurium hybrids

Leatherleaf Bergenia Bergenia cordifolia

Coral Bells Hybrids Heuchera hybrids

Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata hybrid

The lovely flowers are the primary interest of perennials, but plants with equally as attractive foliage will be the best choice. For example, the old fashioned Heuchera sanguinea, known as coral bells was beloved for its quaint small stature and delicate flowers. More recently this plant was crossed with many western native Heucheras to produce foliage more colorful than the original light green. Some of these are so intense the flowers are secondary. Because coral bells are semi-deciduous, they can be mixed and matched for a gorgeous garden that remains colorful deep into winter, or even year around in warmer climates.

Encourage your designer to celebrate perennial color, texture and foliage with a palette of very different looking plants for lots of interest at close range. For example, rather than a maidenhair fern, she might select a Japanese painted fern for its outstanding foliage color. Herbaceous plants are so easily controlled, you can trim them to perfection with scissors so each lays just so amidst your artistic elements and creative materials.


Perennials for Shade
Variegated Perennials

Maureen "Mo" Gilmer is a landscape designer, author, and speaker about horticulture topics and landscape design.

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