5 Top-Notch Perennials

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Achillea 'Peachy Seduction'

In the steadfast belief that what we do in the Trial Garden at UGA make a difference, here are five Classic City perennial award winners for 2011. These are among the very best perennials in the trial gardens, based on year-round performance and/or eye-clutching beauty. Of the more than 2,000 plants in the garden, being a Classic City Award winner is equivalent to the Oscar and Tony rolled up in one.

Achillea ‘Peachy Seduction’ (Blooms of Bressingham). We have been evaluating yarrows for some time and they seem to improve every year. But this one really stood out. One of our students said it reminds them of their grandmother’s antique lace, which we felt was a lovely description of this yarrow. Plants were consistently full of flowers throughout the spring season. A great plant in the garden and one that also works well as a cut flower.

Baptisia ‘Prairie Twilight Blues’ (sent by North Creek Nurseries). Another plant we seem to talk about too much, waiting for the market to catch up. With the fabulous breeding going on in the genus, there are at least a half dozen that could go on this list. This was one of the best and caught the eyes of commercial and private visitors for its vigor and handsome flowers.

Nierembergia ‘Summer Splash White’ (Suntory). I have already written about this plant, and its cousin ‘Summer Splash Blue.’ They are likely only perennial to zone 7, but that is sufficient territory for good sales. Easy to grow, early to flower, persistent in flower and eye catching, it was one of our Plants of Distinction for four weeks running.

Phlox ‘Cosmopolitan’ (Darwin Perennials/Ball Horticultural Co.). This phlox was stunning all season long. It has an amazing deep pink color that stands out from across the garden. The blooms come on strong, and they last throughout the balmy summer days here in Athens. Last year, we choose ‘Peacock White,’ and we think this one is just as wonderful. A great standout in the garden!

Sedum ‘Maestro’ (Walters Gardens/Proven Winners). Greenish purple foliage frocked with pink flowers throughout the season, this Sedum sure was a show stopper. Plants preformed without a hitch considering it is located in one of hottest and driest spots in the garden. Growing to about 1 and half feet with a spread of 2 to 3 feet, the beauty was a prize winner at all of our seasonal events.

Allan Armitage was a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia for 30 years. He recently retired and remains an active consultant, author and lecturer.

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