The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 9, 2008


Great plants for Carlisle

Otto Judicke (left) of Brook Street and Laura Schofield of School Street compare notes on herbs as they pick out plants at the Garden Club plant sale in 2006. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

When you are new to gardening in Carlisle, it’s easy to be enticed by what is new, special, and in bloom at the garden centers. Too often, this means investing way too much in fussy, pest-loving perennials good for at most one or two years.

One spring when most of my plant markers turned out to be grave markers, I came up with a new strategy. I began investigating what was growing in my friends’ and neighbors’ gardens, and lo and behold, there are plants that do very well in Carlisle.

Recently, I asked some members of the Carlisle Garden Club to name some of their favorite easy-care great plants for Carlisle. The ones they mentioned cover all seasons and, together would make an always-colorful garden – and one you will be dividing in a few years, not replanting.

For sunny locations

Peonies (paeonia) – Heidi Harring notes these are standbys in her garden, and were blooming in June last year during the Garden Tour. A range of colors in whites, pinks and reds from three to four feet tall, flowers look like balls that open into cups.

Siberian iris (iris sibirica)– Alison Saylor says, “They are tried and true growers for Carlisle.” They come in whites and purples and bloom in May through June. Unlike the bearded variety, the spiky foliage remains tidy all season.

Cranesbills (geranium) – Every garden should have a few. These tend to be shorter plants, prolific bloomers in whites, pinks, and purples that start to bloom in early June. Some bloom from spring until fall. These are not the annual geraniums which are a completely different species.

Perennial Black-Eyed Susan (rudbeckia) - Jane Anderson notes these have been growing in the rotary, as tough and sunny a location as you can find. Golden yellow flowers start to bloom mid-summer and last until frost. Plants grow two- to three-feet high. Good cut flowers.

Tickseed (coreopsis) - Another rotary flower, this has clear yellow flowers from late June to fall. Lacey foliage is slow to emerge in spring. About 18” to two feet tall.

Daylily (hemerocalis) - I dug some of these one year, threw them into the woods, and forgot them. Months later I planted them and they took off running. Mid-summer bloom, a wide range of colors in yellows, reds, and oranges, and pinks. Deer hate them.

Beebalm (monarda) – a minty plant that will take over the world if you let it. But worth it because hummingbirds love it, as do butterflies and bees. Messed-up-hair- looking flowers bloom prolifically in summer, about three feet tall. Pinks and reds.

Gayfeather (liatris) – spikey flowers mid-summer to fall in purples and whites, three feet tall, another butterfly magnet. Cut down before seeding if you don’t want them everywhere.

Joe Pye Weed (eupatorium) – Maya Liteplo recommends this for its height, as much as five feet, and for its mauve flowers in September that attract butterflies. Fragrant and very showy.

Autumn Joy (sedum spectabile) – Also a fall bloomer, with pink to mauve flowers. Foliage is attractive from spring to fall. Flowers easily dried for winter arrangements.

For shady locations

European Ginger (asarum)– Susan Pepple likes this plant for its low growth, shiny attractive green leaves that deer ignore. This is not a culinary ginger.

Coral bells (heuchera)  – A wide variety of low plants with very attractive foliage in reddish browns, lime greens, and other color combinations. Some have attractive flowers in white, peach, or bright red in early summer. Others are more for foliage.

Hosta (funkia) - another foliage plant, often variegated in whites, yellows, greens, and blues. One drawback is that deer may eat it.

Yellow Foxglove (digitalis grandiflora) – this is a perennial foxglove with spiky light yellow flowers three feet tall in June and July. Cut spent flowers to avoid prolific seeding. Reblooms later. Excellent companion with blues, purples and pinks.

Astilbe – feathery flowers in a range of whites, pinks, purples, and reds over fern-like attractive foliage height 18” to two feet. Most bloom late June to August.

Varieties of these perennials will be available at the Carlisle Garden Club Plant Sale, May 10, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Town Common, and the same day at the plant sales of garden clubs in Concord, Bedford and other towns. So make the rounds. For a wider variety, visit Blanchette Gardens on Rutland Street) for perennials,, or Seawright’s on Bedford Road for daylilies and hosta,∆

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