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Don't Miss Tonight's Event

Vinca y Vino!
Thursday, June 6, 4-6 P.M.
This week's Vinca & Vino is more than just a good time, it's a chance to save on some of the best plants for summer! While you're cooling off with a free glass of wine, you can save 20% on select perennials, 40-50% on tropicals, and 30% on select pottery! Swing by between 4 and 6 p.m. this Thursday, June 6, for exclusive deals, complimentary sips, and jazzy tunes by David Horne!

By Paul James

Need a reason to party? Then celebrate perennials, because June is National Perennial Month. It’s been an annual event since 2001, created by the Perennial Plant Association to highlight the many merits of perennials in the garden. 
The flower color that’s least likely to attract bees is red. Good to know if you’re allergic to their sting.

What is a Perennial?

The term perennial suggests that perennials live forever. They don’t. More on that in a moment. Honestly, I’ve always thought the term was a tad confusing. Botanically, it refers to any plant that survives more than two years. By that definition trees and shrubs are perennials, as are most spring-flowering bulbs, culinary herbs, turf and ornamental grasses, numerous groundcovers, even asparagus. And many plants we grow as annuals -- from petunias to palms -- are actually perennials in their native tropical environs. Finally, there are annuals that reseed so readily they behave as perennials.

But in the common parlance of gardeners, we think of perennials primarily as flowering and non-flowering plants that come back year after year, as compared to annuals, which only last until the first hard frost. 
Jerusalem artichoke, so popular in markets today, isn’t an artichoke and it isn’t from Jerusalem. It’s a tasty perennial vegetable, one that’s also incredibly weedy.

How Perennial are Perennials?

The majority of perennials live from three to 15 years. But some can outlive the gardener that stuck them in the ground. Among the most long-lived are Baptisia, Black-Eyed Susan, Catmint, Daffodil, Daylily, Iris, Peony, Creeping Phlox, Sedum, and Yarrow, which often live from 20 to 50 years or more. I always delight in driving by homes I once owned and seeing perennials I planted long ago.

So Many Choices!

One of the greatest things about perennials is that there are so many choices. There are those that require full sun and others that grow great in full shade. Those whose flowers are magnets for pollinators and those that are favored for their foliage. Those that grow in wet soil and those that prefer dry soil. And perhaps best of all, there are early, mid, and late flowering selections so you can have continuous color for months.
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The oldest living single organism is called Methuselah, a bristlecone pine that likely germinated in 2832 BCE, making it 4,856 years old. Its location in California’s White Mountains is a closely guarded secret.

Kyle Jenkins

I first met Kyle Jenkins at Binding Stevens Nursery, a spot many of you no doubt remember, where he was greenhouse supervisor. He impressed me right away -- friendly, smart, and deeply passionate about plants. He’s still all of those things, as I’m sure many of you have witnessed while shopping for perennials, the department Kyle heads up. His in-depth knowledge comes from first-hand experiences, because he’s grown darn near every perennial we carry, and then some. That’s why I count on him (and his team) for advice when it comes to selecting perennials. And you should too. 

Quarts or Gallons?

Deciding which container size to buy when shopping for perennials isn’t purely a matter of price. Quarts are cheaper, yes, but they may also be a better choice for other reasons. For example, if you need to squeeze a perennial in a crowded garden, a tight spot, or around a tree where roots make digging a hole a challenge, quarts are ideal. But the bottom line is, they’re just plain easier to plant.

Perennials in Containers

Perennials in pots are a great way to grow, especially for folks who don’t have space for a traditional garden. I also love the look of potted perennials placed in an established garden, where the pots add texture and color. And I can’t think of a single perennial that can’t be grown in a container. (Believe me, I thought about it for quite a while.)
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And Happy National Gardening Exercise Day!

Today is also National Gardening Exercise Day, which means you have yet another reason to party! Just make sure you warm up and stretch first.

Tip Of The Week

Plants grown in containers need to be fertilized more frequently than those grown in the ground, because nutrients are leached out of the potting mix each time you water. For that reason, slow-release fertilizers are best.
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