Some old plants are our perennial friends

You can rely on them to be there when you need them, they don’t seem to change much through the years, they grow older along with you, their appearance is familiar, we see more of them during the summer, and they tend to hunker down in the winter.

Old friends, you think?

Right, but we could also be referring to the perennials in our gardens.

I love the time in early spring when the first green shoots appear and the yearly guessing game begins. Just what is popping up there? A wrong guess can result in a cherished plant being pulled out and composted when mistaken for a weed, and I suspect that is what has happened to a few delphiniums and coreopsis I am missing this year.

The miserable winter and early “spring” wreaked havoc with some perennials. Now, in the last days of May, the bleeding

hearts in my shady front garden are just blooming.

My roses had to be cut back severely because everything above ground died on most of them, but they now are all coming back with new growth from the roots.

If any of them were grafted, I may be in for a surprise at flowering time.

Losing old friends is sad, but the extreme cold was too much for some of them. My fairy garden lost all the miniature hostas and a treasured dwarf cypress, along with several flowering plants whose names were lost.

The sedums came back eventually, and things are looking good now. If I could just keep up with the weeding.

In spite of all that doom and gloom, most of my perennials did survive. The Maximilian sunflower has come back bigger than ever, with dozens of stems growing strong and fast. I will have to shore up the fence to support the weight of the plant that will reach up above the kitchen window to around 8 feet in every direction.

I love the show of golden blossoms, although every year it needs a firm hand to control its growth.

The peonies have come through well and are flowering on time. I always connect them with graduation because they are at their best for receptions and parties at this time.

The Virginia bluebells have spread, faithful hostas are doing their thing, heuchera and daylilies full of promise, and of course, the irrepressible columbines are popping up everywhere, even in cracks in the blacktop out front.

As Oliver Goldsmith tells us in “She Stoops to Conquer”: “I love everything that’s old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.”

To that, I would add, old plants.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.

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