5 Pretty and Fast-Growing Perennials From a formerly scared gardener

I grew up with a big garden in Australia and also in New Zealand - but I never had to take care of it. Then I moved to apartment after apartment, where a few indoor plants survived under my rule of thumb: “I’ll give you water, the rest is up to you.”

And then, one day, I again had a garden. And though I was full of desires and ideas for that patch of green...I realised I was a little apprehensive knowing absolutely nothing about gardens, and the care required. But then I realised with gardening, unlike with cooking, you cannot go wrong!

Yes you might try plants that don’t take off, or whose looks you don’t love, but none of it is a big deal, ever. It is so fun to play in that way: with no consequences!

I’ve thrown ‘wildflower spring mixes’ at the base of the lemon tree, and watched with curiosity as an unruly and disheveled bunch rose randomly from the potting soil. They’re already gone. I’ve planted with no long term plan whatsoever high maintenance basil and tomatoes, and low maintenance succulents. Even a walnut tree (in the ground) and a camellia (in a pot - can’t wait for those big buds to open!)

And now at the Fall Equinox I started wondering if I could plan a little for next year, for once. I would really like more flowers, but this isn’t the right time to seed, is it?

Actually it’s not a bad time at all, if I’m going to try perennials. In fact Fall is a good time to transplant perennials (it gives them time to establish a solid root system before the next summer.)

Annuals--the ones I would plant from seed in the spring-- work hard at their flower show because they only have one year to make seeds and hope to reproduce. Then they die.

But perennials...though they may be a bit less showy, they come back year after year! I like that.

This isn’t an either/or situation. As a gardener, we can have it all...there is room for both annuals and perennials. In fact, most likely we’ll need both for the prettiest garden. With annuals you can change colors every year (just work a bit more at it.) Meanwhile your perennials will ask little maintenance of you, and delight you year after year by showing up at their appointed blooming time.

If, like me, you’re just getting started--and of the more impatient kind--there are some fast growing pretty perennials that will help accelerate your garden efforts. (Note for the novice gardener: fast in the gardening world may mean a couple of growing seasons...a good way to help us re-attune to Mother Nature’s rhythms!)

Here are my 5 picks for fast-growing perennials:

  1. My absolute favourite for its delicate looks, adorable name, and delicious (to me) fragrance which was in my mom’s Dior perfume: Lily of the Valley (image above).

(How to grow details here)

Then, in subjective order of prettiness:

2. Geum - especially the red and tangerine ones. Charming little flowers show up in May and June.

3. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ has pretty, ahem, mauve petals, and can flower almost all year round. Bonus: it’s a favourite of bees and butterflies.

4. Hardy Geranium (“cranesbill”) are great for borders with their star-shaped petals in blue, pink or purple.

5. Crocosmia for late summer, especially the Lucifer kind because, you guessed it, the fiery colors of its dense flowers.

(Thank you Gardener's World for this wealth of knowledge. More on fast-growing perennials in this article)

-----I also would like to mention Calendula Officinalis "Pot Marigold" which will feature in another blog post of mine. It deserves it's own write-up as it is a rather exciting, edible delight which is a beneficial ingredient in skincare and adds fantastic colour to your garden bed. More on that later.

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