Perennials with Presence

With summer in full swing, everything is lush and green outside. How is your garden growing? If it’s in need of something that’s bolder and more interesting than the ubiquitous hosta or daylily, consider adding a large perennial with presence. These summer beauties stand out not only for their height and their flowers or foliage, but also for their reliable performance year after year.

Rufa Bamboo makes an ideal specimen for an Asian-themed garden. It’s also cold-hardy, evergreen and non-invasive.

Rufa Bamboo, Fargesia rufa is an exotic-looking, non-invasive bamboo with bright green leaves and orange-red canes. It makes an impressive specimen plant in an Asian-themed garden. Two more advantages are that it is cold-hardy and evergreen. 6′ tall. Full sun-part shade.


The dramatic, almost black foliage of Brunette Bugbane.

Brunette Bugbane, Cimicifuga simplex ‘Brunette’stands out for its almost black foliage and statuesque appearance. In late summer, wispy wands of pink-white flowers appear atop the leaves, creating a stunning visual contrast. Bugbane is also deer- and rabbit-resistant. 36-48″ tall. Part-full shade.


Becky Shasta Daisy is a large perennial with cheery white daisies.

Becky Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’, is a bushy perennial that makes a statement in a cottage garden, blooming in summer with 3-4 inch diameter white daisies with yellow centers, on sturdy stems. Becky blooms later and longer than other varieties. Attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It’s tough in hot and humid conditions and deer resistant. 36-48″ tall.


Giant Fleeceflower is a tall, shrubby perennial with creamy white plumes that last all summer long.

Giant Fleeceflower, Persicaria polymorpha, is a stately, impressive perennial that commands attention. It grows to 5-6 feet tall and just as wide, and its creamy white plumes appear in May and last throughout summer. Also called knotweed, it is not invasive and easy to care for. Attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. 5-6′ tall. Full sun-part shade.


Dramatic flowers of Cranberry Crush Hibiscus are perfect in a cottage or eclectic themed garden. Photo credit: Proven Winners.

Cranberry Crush Hibiscus, Hibiscus ‘Cranberry Crush’, is one of four cultivars of the Summerific® Hibiscus Series from Proven Winners. It blooms prolifically from midsummer to early fall with cranberry-colored, dinnerplate-sized flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and bees. Leaves are glossy purplish-green and resemble maple leaves. Deer-resistant. 4′ tall. Full sun.


The Candy Store Series of Phlox. Clockwise from top left: Grape Lollipop, Coral Creme Drop, Bubblegum Pink, Cotton Candy.

The Candy Store™ Series of Garden Phlox come in vibrant colors and have fun names: Grape Lollipop, Coral Creme Drop, Cotton Candy and Bubblegum Pink. Sweet-smelling flowers are held by upright, sturdy stems. These phloxes are mildew-resistant, an advantage over other garden phlox varieties and cultivars. Attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. 36″ tall. Full sun.


Sun King Spikenard has arching chartreuse-yellow leaves that brighten a shady spot. Photo credit: Walters Gardens.

Sun King Spikenard, Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, is a robust perennial that could be mistaken for an unusual shrub. Its finely toothed, arching compound leaves are a bold chartreuse yellow throughout. Tiny white flowers in summer are followed by purple fruit. Native to Japan, it makes a distinctive addition to a woodland or shade garden. 36-48″ tall. Part-full shade.

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