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Saturday, February 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cool growing season gives perennials a longer bloom

Asters are easy-to-grow perennials that are prolific bloomers late in the season.  SUSAN MULVIHILL Special to The Spokesman-Review (Susan S / The Spokesman-Review)
Asters are easy-to-grow perennials that are prolific bloomers late in the season. SUSAN MULVIHILL Special to The Spokesman-Review (Susan S / The Spokesman-Review)

This season’s weather may not have been so great for growing veggies, but I think the perennials have outdone themselves. They apparently enjoyed the cooler temperatures and abundance of moisture.

Perennials give you a lot of bang for your buck because they come back year after year.

If you’re looking to fill in some gaps in your garden, you’re in luck: The Friends of Manito will be holding its Fall Plant Sale next Saturday and they’ve got a plethora of perennials available in all shapes, colors and sizes. All proceeds will benefit Manito Park.

I’ve been looking through the online list of plants (available at and several have caught my eye:

• Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ – This is an oldie but a goodie with its mounding growth habit and reliable lavender blossoms in the fall, just when the rest of the perennials are winding down. Sun to part shade, 30 inches tall.

• Campanula ‘Jelly Bells’ – I love the deep purple bell-shaped flowers that really stand out in garden borders. They are vigorous growers with a long blooming season and grow 8 to 10 inches tall. A sun-lover.

• Delphinium elatum – This has truly been the year of the Delphinium; I’ve never seen so many glorious stands of flower stalks in whites, purples, pinks and blues. Another sun-lover, the plants are about 2 feet tall and send up 4- to 6-foot-tall flower spikes.

• Gaillardia ‘Red Shades’ – If you’re looking for bright color in a hot area of your garden, this is a winner. The flowers are a deep mahogany with yellow tips. They grow in full sun to part shade, have a long blooming season and reach 12 inches in height.

• Helenium autumnale – This is another tough plant that has the rather humorous common name of Sneezeweed. Different warm colors will be available at the sale. The plants are hardy down to zone 4 and will grow about 3 feet tall. They are drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, attract butterflies and prefer full sun.

• Heuchera – Known as Coral Bells, these are cool plants that are prized for their beautifully-colored foliage. Two of my favorites are ‘Plum Royale’ and ‘Berry Smoothie.’ The plants are somewhat diminutive at 10 inches, with a mounding growth habit and dainty flower spikes. For best results, grow them in part shade.

• Lobelia – Some gardeners might only be familiar with annual Lobelias but the perennial types look terrific in garden beds with their stalks of red (Lobelia cardinalis), blue or salmon (Lobelia speciosa) flowers. They will grow in full sun to part shade and will reach a height of about 2 feet.

• Penstemon – I’m crazy about the Beardtongues because they have a long blooming season and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. There will be blue, red, pink and purple hybrids at the sale. They range in height from 10 inches to 3 feet, are drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. They prefer full sun.

• Sedum forsterianum ‘Oracle’ – Now here’s something interesting and unusual. Oracle Stonecrop only grows 6 inches tall but is an interesting groundcover that has dense gray-green succulent foliage. It has yellow flowers in midsummer and is very hardy.

• Sempervivum – The much-loved Hens and Chicks are about as tough as you can get. I grow them in hot, dry conditions and love the interesting foliage types and colors.

Susan Mulvihill can be reached via email at

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