As we enter the last month of the non-winter garden season here in our Northland, I regularly stroll my garden paths to evaluate the various arrangement of plants regarding their health, appearance, and harmony with their neighbors.

Do they fill their space as beautifully among their neighboring notes for the eyes, as Beethoven adagios do for the ears?

What ‘note’ is each plant playing. What music for your ‘eyes’ are you composing, and why.

Remember my basic 3 questions in one which should be answered before a garden planting is made anywhere on your grounds:


To answer one should study all of the important angles from which that planting will be seen. Harmony is achieved when plantings are beautiful from every position they are viewed.

Some settings will be more beautiful than others in a well planted grounds.

I also take note of the plants which are truly gem on my grounds. Some are the species or cultivar in general, others are individuals which display exquisite character, by accident or by intention.

I’ll name a few of my favorite perennials which keep popping up in my mind for beauties of the ‘show’.

Fireworks Solidago…..This relatively new goldenrod is among the few ‘best’ herbaceous perennials on my grounds. I have six or seven clumps, some in full sun, others in deep shade, yet all are ‘explosive’ in their bright yellow bloom for about a week now….earlier and sturdier if in full sun; foliage darker green if full shade.

Hot Lips Chelone…..This turtlehead is about finishing its display in most sections of my grounds. It requires regular watering to avoid desication and early death, but spreads proudly as a clump when properly watered. Not fussy about sun. Lips are just as hot a pink whether in sun or shade. Three feet or more tall in good loamy soil. Blooms are beautiful background to Fireworks Solidage.

Autumn Fire Sedum……This is the best of the pinky stonecrops for its does seem to stand more sturdily under rain or wind than Autumn Joy. Sometimes its bloom are a sharper pink that its autumn fire rust, especially when grown in all day full sun.

I happen to need ‘Evening Primrose’, Oenothera fruticosa, in my garden. If there is a ‘perennial’ that appears to be happy in its garden place, whether shade or sun, sand or clay, this bright yellow flowering spreader with reddish maroon autumn foliage is the one. It isn’t truly a perennial, but don’t worry about it, this ‘Evening Primrose” doesn’t know it. It likes living apparently as much as I do. If it is modestly cared for in it garden site, it will live a lot longer than I or you, dear reader, will. Are you jealous, too?

Purple Dome Aster…….The penetratingly bright purple of this bushy aster will attract any and all functioning human eyes around. It is the color I like so much. The foliage is okay until a mildew hits it, but it is easily controlled. Somewhere in my neighborhood many years ago this month, I saw a beautiful gray wooden pioneer’s fence about fifty feet in length hedged with Purple Dome along its entire line fronting a quarter acre of a pure green carpet of lawn.

The acreage since has been chopped up and sold as residential lots.

Although I probably grow about 50 different varieties of hostas, I am not a hosta man. But hostas are terrific plants to imply a variety of harmonies. As specimens I will note the following “BEST” in my view, of course.

El Nino, Great Expectations, Royal Standard, June, and Krosse Regal would lead my list. (Go ahead and plant each and find out why! You’ll have to wait a few years if what you have purchased sits in a size one pot.)

Remember plants and gardens, like people, gain character with age.

Intersectional peonies are spectacular peonies……that is about all that can be said regardless of color…..for color of flower seems to come in ‘better’ or ‘best’, only. Plus, don’t forget their major feature……the blooms don’t collapse at first drizzle of rain. Also, these intersectionals are reliably hardy in our TC neck of the American woods, as long as some political nut doesn’t create global freezing in the next year or century.

Two other perennials are forever keepers in my grounds while I am still alive…..Helleborus, the Lenten Rose, and Japanese Anemone…..(Anemone robustissima). I don’t know why regarding both…..but I am hooked.

A bit of Latin here will help certain gardeners who have a sense of curiosity, for the name of this Japanese Anemone throughout the world is Anemone robustissima…….which means it is the anemone which is “robust”……The ‘issima’ in Latin means….’the very, very most’.

Well, you put the name, the Latin one, into meaningful English and what do you get?…….Answer: the very, very most robust anemone plant……What do you think robust refers to? Guess , or plant it to find out.

I like the plant very much especially when I plant ahead and place an attractive black metal trellis in the middle of the clump standing erect in anticipation of the tall countless pink blooms when in show off season, which is now and lasts for six weeks.

Helleborus blooms around the week after April fool’s day. We couldn’t grow this Lenten Rose 40 years ago in the Twin Cities because of global freezing killing it at every try. I am not in favor of global freezing returning to my Minnetonka any time soon. How could anyone be so dumb and/or cruel as to wish for its return?