Enjoy these low-maintenance plants in Northwest gardens
by Lorene Edwards Forkner
June marks the beginning of long days and warm temperatures in the Northwest. Most years, the rain lets up and the clouds part to reveal one of our country's most pleasant and hospitable summer seasons, and a rainbow of constantly blooming and low-maintenance perennials.
The following plants age gracefully, morphing and maturing in a lasting and pleasing way as the season progresses. You won't have to stake, deadhead — that is, remove faded flowers — or constantly fertilize these beauties. Just give them the occasional sip from a hose or sprinkler and your main garden chore will be to simply enjoy the show and snip a few blooms to share with friends and family.
Anise Hyssop (Agastache "Blue Fortune") These long-lasting, deep lilac-blue flower spikes top fragrant minty foliage throughout the summer. The leaves may be brewed into a refreshing herbal tea. Full sun to part shade, 24- to 36-inches tall and 24 inches wide.
Indian Feather (Gaura lindheimeri) These delicate wands of white or pink blossoms flutter in the breeze from early summer to frost. They're sometimes called butterfly flower because they flit in the garden and butterflies love them. Full sun to light shade, 24- to 36-inches tall and wide.
"Lucifer" Montbretia (Crocosmia "Lucifer") Sprays of red blossoms with nut-like seeds atop upright stems are beloved by hummingbirds and florists alike. Full sun, 36 inches tall and 24- to 30-inches wide.
Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea) Available in almost every color of the sunset, these North American prairie natives bloom midsummer to frost. Seed heads attract birds during winter. Full sun, 24- to 36-inches tall and 18- to 30-inches wide.
"Rozanne" Hardy Geranium (Geranium "Rozanne") Low, mounding plants foam with deep blue flowers surrounding white eyes from spring through frost. Full sun to part shade, 18- to 24-inches tall and 24-inches wide.
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) Tall, ghostly silver stems blossom with purple-blue flowers in late summer through fall, adding brilliant color and height to arrangements in borders and vases. Full sun, 36- to 48-inches tall by 24-inches wide.
"Stella d'Oro" Daylily (Hemerocallis "Stella d'Oro") Yellow funnel-shaped flowers bloom from June to frost above grassy green foliage. These are a cottage-garden favorite. Full sun to part shade, 18 inches-tall and 14- to 16-inches wide.
Stonecrop (Sedum telephium) Beginning in midsummer, succulent green- or wine-colored foliage sets off green broccoli-like flowers that ripen to raspberry, rose and bronze tones. They stay pest-free and require little water, making them especially easy to maintain. Full sun, 16- to 18-inches tall and 24-inches wide.
Tree Mallow (Lavatera) Flush after flush of pale pink to deep rose flowers appear on this stately shrub-like perennial throughout the summer. It's a low-maintenance, colorful backdrop in mixed borders. Full sun to part shade, 3- to 6-feet tall and 3- to 4-feet wide.
Yarrow (Alchillea millefolium) This butterfly magnet blossoms with colorful, flat blooms in shades of pink, deep rose, rusty orange, yellow and cream. It's drought tolerant, too. Full sun, 18- to 24-inches tall by 24-inches wide.
Lorene Edwards Forkner is a Seattle-based freelance writer, food enthusiast and garden designer who revels in the seasonal pleasures and broad scope of gardening in the Northwest. She's the author of "Growing Your Own Vegetables" and "Canning & Preserving Your Own Harvest."