Top Five: Landscape Architect Jan Johnsen

Landscape architect and co-principal of Johnsen Landscapes & Pools on the five top perennials




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Perennial plants appear to die in the winter, but their hardy roots survive to produce new sprouts in the spring. These easy-care, dependable performers provide years of interest and act as the “bones” of a flower garden. (Just remember that it can take at least a year for them to look like they do in these photos. Here are my five fave perennials:

1) Sedum x ‘Vera Jameson’
A succulent with blue-gray foliage and flowers of deep pink, this sedum is a hardy and easy-to-grow perennial that flowers in late summer for four weeks or more. In the fall, its fleshy leaves turn an awesome shade of purplish-gray and mauve. It loves hot, dry sites.
2) Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’
‘Ice Dance’ is a dense sedge that looks good year-round, even in winter. The white-edged leaves complement most other plants, and it is a great groundcover for partly shady and moist sites. It’s also deer-resistant.
3) Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’
I love this perennial for its dark green, glossy foliage with scalloped edges. It has a wealth of rose-lavender spikes on short stalks all summer, lasts a long time as a cut flower, and looks great with roses. Deer will also leave it alone.
4) Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
This variety of Japanese forest grass has bright golden foliage with green stripes and brightens up a shady corner. Plant it along pathways or under trees in humus-rich soil and partial shade. Deer don’t touch it, either.
5) Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’
This compact, long-flowering Amsonia is my favorite variety of this drought-tolerant perennial. The dark, brilliant blue flowers cover the plant from spring through early summer. Then, after they pass, the foliage turns a rich shade of yellow in the fall. Like most of the others, they are—you guessed it—deer-resistant. 


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