CSU Trial Gardens Highlight Pretty Perennials
It may be winter, but KUNC gardener Tom Throgmorton says now is a good time to start thinking about perennials and other plants that provide a splash of color, and draw butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.
The CSU annual and perennials trial garden is a traffic-stopping tourist attraction in Ft. Collins. If I had a lemonade stand, I’d park it between the University Center for the Arts and CSU track complex. Special selections are made from the trial gardens right there along College Avenue.
Some of the top performing perennials at the gardens include a couple of coneflowers. Mistral coneflower is a compact, dwarf selection. It has pink flowers that fade. But even as the flowers fade they are showy and long lasting. The plant grows eighteen inches tall. It’s a great addition to a sunny border or in front of other, taller drought-tolerant plants.
Panther Pink coneflower is a little bit taller at two feet tall. It has large three to four inch flowers. Of course the flowers are pink. This is a durable, drought-tolerant cut flower. Use it in a rock garden or as a back drop to other plants.
There are also a couple of top performing penstemons in the CSU mix. Prairie Twilight penstemon has young burgundy stems. The flowers are lavender with a touch of white. The long stems stand at least two feet tall in the garden. Use them for cut flowers. Prairie Twilight is a low water user.
Red Riding Hood penstemon, like most penstemons, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s also a two foot tall plant, so it’s great for cut flowers. The spikes of red flowers are a contrast against the dark green leaves.
The experts selecting the top performers picked out a series of butterfly bush. The Buzz series was selected as a compact, durable group of butterfly bushes. The series likes full sun and moderate water. They are deer resistant. They may need some pruning in the spring to remove winter die back. The Buzz series blooms in colors of violet, pink and ivory.
A fragrant cut flower that blooms from July until frost is Pina Colada Phlox. This is a moonlight garden plant with white flowers. The flower spikes grow about a foot tall. Their fragrance is most pronounced at evening dusk.
Try some of these top performing perennials in the new gardening season. Go find them and more wonderful flowers at the CSU trial gardens.