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 Perennials in the Flower Garden

 By Sandra Dinkins-Wilson

Perennials are the basic flowers of any flower garden. To many people, a flower garden is simply beds of perennials. Each year they die and renew themselves for the next growing season. They can be long-lived and last for many seasons. However, care must be taken for the rapid growers which may smother less vigorous flowers. Perennials such as the iris and shasta daisies must be divided or transplanted every few years to prevent this from happening. This is a simple process which we will cover in another article.

Historically, perennials are among our oldest plants. They have been cultivated for centuries and can bear little to no resemblance to their wild antecedents. In some perennials, the blossoms have become so specialized through centuries of cultivation that they no longer grow 'seeds'. Indeed most perennials reproduce by sending up new plants from the base of the old one which is why the dividing process spoken of earlier must take place at intervals.

Another supposed disadvantage is the tendency of certain perennials to die down after flowering, thereby leaving gaps in the garden. There are a number of ways to solve this problem and the resultant spaces. One way is to intersperse perennials with annuals and other flowering plants, whose bloom occurs either later or earlier than that of the perennials. Instead of being a disadvantage, think of this as an opportunity to phase in more flowering plants into your garden design.

Some perennials are easy to transplant. Mums, for example, can be moved from one place to another with no noticeable effect. This is yet another way to keep the color and blooms in your flower garden throughout the growing season.

When your perennials do die down, remove and compost the dead and dying foliage and flowers. If the planting is large enough and accessible, some gardeners will simply mow over the spent flowers.

Perennials, either by themselves or mixed with annuals and other plants, can be placed along a path, or as a border against a background of trees, shrubs, a wall or fence. Such a background shows the flowers to best advantage. When planning such a border or planting along a path, care should be taken to consider the ultimate height of the plant, it's season of bloom, the color of the flower, and its hardiness and preference for sun or shade, type of soil and amount of water.

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