What is there not to love about beautiful perennials?

Perennials are user friendly for gardeners who want to scale back on planting chores. You plant them once and they keep coming back year after year. Of course, they still require maintenance and water, but some need a lot less than others.

Consider Colorado’s own born and bred perennials from Plant Select. Horticulturists from Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry have collaborated to find and develop plants that can grow in spite of our scorching winds, plummeting temps and high altitudes. Plant Select has done a wonderful thing for Colorado gardeners by giving us plants we can count on even at higher elevations.

Here are some water-wise varieties to consider this year:

Colorado Gold gazania (Gazania linearis)

Grows 8 to 12-inches tall by 10-inches wide.

Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun.

Why grow it: Sunny yellow, 2-to 3-inch wide flowers start blooming in spring and often continue through summer with cooler nights.

Grows well at elevations up to 9,000 feet.

Turkish and Crystal River veronicas (Veronica liwanensis, V. ‘Reavis’)

Grows 1 to 2-inches tall by 18-inches wide

Dry to xeriscape conditions (little water needed once established) in full sun.

Why grow them: Fast growing, stunning blue flowers in spring on lush green, small rounded leaves. Excellent groundcovers for slopes, large rock gardens, walls, between stepping stones.

Varieties include: Turkish veronica has deep, gentian-blue flowers. Crystal River has paler blue flowers with a white eye. Turkish grows up to elevations of 10,000 feet; Crystal River to 8,000 feet.

Corsican violet (Viola corsica)

Grows 6 to 8-inches tall by 6 to 8-inches wide.

Conditions: Moderate water in loam or clay soils.

Why grow it: Long-blooming, hardy violet especially beautiful in higher altitudes with sunny days and cool nights. Striking rich purple color.

Grows to elevations of at least 9,000 feet.

For lower elevations, consider:

Sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris)

Grows 24-inches tall by 15-inches wide.

Dry to xeriscaped conditions (little to no additional water once established); full sun.

Why grow it: Late summer bloomer that thrives in hot, dry sites. Excellent for attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Good to elevations of 7,000 feet. Other hyssops OK at higher altitudes. See your local nursery.

Hardy ice plants (Delosperma):

Fire Spinner, Mesa Verde, Table Mountain

Grows 2 inches tall and 12 to 20-inches wide.

Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun.

Why grow them: Fast-growing, succulent ground covers with nearly fluorescent blooms in early summer. Excellent for rock gardens and cascading down walls.

Varieties include: Fire Spinner: Two-tone purple and orange flowers with apple-green leaves; Mesa Verde: Salmon-pink flowers with medium green leaves; Table Mountain: Magenta flowers with medium green leaves.

Good to elevations of 7,000 feet. See your local nursery. Other varieties OK at higher altitude. Fire Spinner and Table Mountain may grow higher in protected sites.

Pike’s Peak Purple, Shadow Mountain penstemons (Penstemon x mexicali)

Grows 18 to 24-inches tall by 15 to 18-inches wide.

Moderate to dry conditions with good drainage in full sun.

Why grow them: Long-blooming penstemons with glossy green, narrow foliage attractive all season long.

Varieties include: Pike’s Peak Purple has rich, deep purple flowers; Shadow Mountain flowers are lavender blue with dark strips lining the throat.

Good to elevations of 7,000 feet. Other varieties OK at higher altitudes. See your local nursery.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You can contact them at 970-468-0340.


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 2, 2013 11:12PM Published Jun 3, 2013 12:21PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.