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Perennials at Behnkes: Phlox, Heuchera, Peonies!

Creeping Phlox

Are you getting tired of the “one nice day in a row” weather we’ve been having so far this spring? I know I am.  It feels like the coast of Washington State instead of the ‘burbs of Washington, DC.  That said, there are some mighty fine perennial gardens in the Pacific Northwest, and the cool weather has extended the blooming period for plants in the gardens here, so maybe we are on to something.

Our perennial departments are so full of plants that we are running out of space; around 25,000 plants between the two stores.  We have a lot of interesting perennials in smaller pots this year, good for containers or if you want to plant 5 or 7 of something.


Heucheras in an assortment of colors

My personal favorite, Heuchera.  Sometimes they are called coral bells for the flowers, which on some of the varieties are actually coral-colored and bell- shaped.  Most people grow Heuchera and related Heucherella (Foamy Bells) for the spectacular foliage colors: green, gold with red highlights, purple, nearly black, silver…it’s hard to believe they are real.  They are perfect for container gardening if you have a spot with some afternoon shade.

Itoh Peony

Itoh hybrid peonies.  These are hybrids of “regular” and “tree” peonies. They don’t die down completely in the fall, but make little woody stems that overwinter above ground like tree peonies.  They are vigorous and have colors that are unusual for peonies including yellow and coppery.  Expensive–oh, yeah.  But these are big, heavy plants, ready to bloom.

by Larry Hurley

Larry Hurley, perennials specialist for Behnke Nurseries (now retired), started with Behnke’s in1984. Larry enjoys travel, food and photography. He and his wife Carolyn have visited Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, South Korea and much of Europe. Their home is on a shady lot where a lot of perennials have met their Maker over the years.

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