Some of my favorite perennials have started showing up in McDonalds and Home Depot parking lots. When this begins to happen it's time to find a few new favorites. Below are a few perennials to consider that are easy to grow and commonly underused in the Mid Atlantic region.
Gillenia trifoliata Bowmans Root
White delicate star shaped flowers gracefully open in clusters above the rich green oval shaped foliage clustered along the slender red stems. Growing to a height of 28-36" and flowereing in early June, Gillenia will tolerate average to slightly moist soil in full sun to part shade. Primarily part shade in the mid Atlantic unless you can water it weekly. A valuable architectural plant the foliage becomes red in the fall and the seed heads turn a maroon color extending interest into the winter.
Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire
Bonfire is a somewhat dense and mounding perennial that adds bold textural value with its foliage. Emerging as a chartreuse green the plan eventually ages to a dark red by September. Bright yellow bracts form the flowers covering two thirds of the plant in May to June. Provide well drained soil, particularly during the winter months. Otherwise average to dry soil conditions will provide for the proper growing conditions. Try Bonfire among low growing grasses that age to a buff color in the fall to accent the red foliage and the bold texture.
Veronia lettermanii 'Iron Butterfly'
A butterfly magnet in late summer, this vigorous perennial shows off masses of tiny, true purple flowers that attract other beneficial insects for a nectar feast. Delicate green foliage gives it a fine texture that is enhanced by grouping. Very tolerant of rough, sandy, infertile, dry soils. Collaborates well with ornamental grasses, Veronicastrum and Calamintha.
Stachy officianalis 'Hummelo'
This stachys has dark green, glossy foliage in a basal mound. It is unusual in that it has a wealth of rose-lavender spikes on short stalks all summer that are very decorative and last a long time as a cut flower. Perennial Stachys performs like a Salvia, and deer will leave it alone. Likes a spot that is well-drained in winter. Hummelo colllaborates well with salvias, sporobolous, calamint, Summer Beauty Allium, panicum Shenandoah and statice.
Limonium latifolium Statice
Statice Flowers come in white, lavender, and pink colors. The tiny funnel-shaped Statice flowers have a delicate, airy, hazy appearance, almost like smoke. Statice blooms in late spring and summer. Tolerant of dry soil, this sun-loving perennial delivers dense clouds of blue to pink-purple flowers rising above dark green basal rosettes. Delicate and airy in the garden and great as a dried flower. Be sure to provide good drainage throughout all seasons, particularly winter. Statice associates well with cone shaped flowers, umbellifors and spires. Consider Purple cone flower, Hummelo Stachys, Phlox paniculata Davids Lavendar and sedums as companions.
Parthenium integrifolium Wild Quinine
Parthenium integrifolium (Wild Quinine) matures to 4' and has white, dense, cauliflower-looking flowers. It prefers medium soil conditions, and grows best in full sun. Wild Quinine can be seen blooming June through September. Wild Quinine is typically found in dry areas of prairies and open woods.