Tony's Top Ten Perennials

I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year both my garden and my garden psyche could use a lift. I decided to take a stroll through the nursery and found some late season perennial charmers that can give much needed zing- to both! And the cherry on top? All in-stock perennials are 20% off this weekend (8/21 - 8/23) so now is the best time to snag them!

1. Allium 'Medusa' - ‘Medusa’ Ornamental Onion     

Sun or part shade. Another cool variant of the ornamental (not used for culinary purposes) onions. While I wouldn’t say the strap-like leaves writhe like the snaky coif of its namesake they’re a tad twisted. Even the mid-summer buds nod over until they straighten up to flaunt their long-lasting 2” diameter purple pompoms. Leaving the dried seed-heads intact will jazz up the winter landscape, too. 18-20” tall in bloom. Really heat and drought resistant. ‘Medusa’ drives pollinators of all kinds crazy with feeding lust, but stops deer and bunnies cold. Shop here


2. Anemone: 'September Charm' & 'Honorine Jobert'

Sun to considerable shade. Whether spring or fall-blooming all the “windflowers” are charmers. They make rounded mounds of attractive green foliage throughout the summer and then they spike with pretty 2-3” diameter, five-petalled flowers of pink or white with yellow centers - August often into October. While they may look delicate dancing in the wind they’re tough as nails and spread through underground rhizomes, although not in an uncontrollable way. Best in damp soils. A really nice, truly perennial way to guarantee fall flowers in your garden. Deer resistant.

Sun to a little shade. It’s hard to find perennials with a longer season of bloom, or a better cutflower, than the coneflowers. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is a first-year bloomer from seed, and is therefore available in mixed colors of gold, scarlet, red and orange. This flower show is staged from mid-summer to early fall. 24-30” tall and 18” wide. A planting of ‘C.S.’ will assure you a constant cavalcade of bees and butterflies. If you don’t deadhead the last fall flowers (leaving the seeds to ripen) you will add birds to your list of garden visitors. Deer resistant. Shop here.

No aspersions cast at the namesake, but the story goes the parent plant was noticed along a roadside in the south and had such great attributes it was brought into cultivation as a garden plant. And the great characteristics are: really thick, leathery green foliage that is highly disease-resistant (often missing in Garden Phlox) and mildly fragrant spring flowers of white with a tinge of pink (or purple) at the throat in cooler weather.18-24” tall, but this is a mat-former that can grow slowly to 3’ wide. Butterflies love it. I’ve been thinking about buying this and writing it I just convinced myself. Welcome to my garden, Miss Pearl, but the price tag has to go. Shop here.

5. Eutrochium (or Eupatorium) 'Gateway'

This nativar (selected variety of a native plant) checks a lot of boxes: 4-5’ tall with strong, no stake-needed stems, back-of-border plant, late summer bloom and a butterfly magnet. The domed, dusty pink flowers can be as wide as 12” in diameter. This prairie plant loves sun (but will tolerate some shade) and would be a great choice for always-damp sites or rain gardens. Dried seed-heads are a bird favorite, but be forewarned, the ones they miss will become new plants next year! Deer resistant. Shop here.



Sun/tolerates more shade than other Clematis. If ever a plant should have an identity crisis it would be this amazing fall bloomer whose Latin name seems to change every year or so. This rambling vine is cut back hard (to 6” of the ground) in late winter/early spring and will regrow 10-20’ during the growing season. About Sept. it will be covered with 1” diameter, sweetly vanilla-scented flowers that last for weeks. The foliage is striking in detail with a broad silver strip down the mid-rib of older leaves. Do know that it can self-seed around in the garden. Deer and rabbit resistant. Shop here.


7. Iris ensata ‘Variegata’ -Variegated Japanese Iris

Full sun to part shade, likes moist(er) soils. Foremost, love it for the striking creamy white & green sword-like leaves that make an exclamation point anywhere it’s sited. Very dramatic. Then the blue flowers (though short-lived) are a lovely bonus. 30” tall, with a medium growth rate. An established clump is a thing of beauty erupting in a garden of otherwise green foliage. Bambi & bunny-resistant.

8. Athyrium (Japanese Painted) fern ‘Godzilla’

Half day of sun to full shade. Botanical ‘Godzilla’ has somewhat questionable parentage, but who cares when it’s such a great garden plant? In the evenly moist soils it prefers it can grow 24” tall with a 3’ dia. spread. It has light silver-gray foliage with handsome purplish stems and leaf venation. What a great texture and color contrast with Hosta and Astilbe in any shade garden. Not a rabbit-preferred food. Shop here. 

Part to full shade, moist soil preferred. A clump-forming perennial with truly heart-shaped leaves of silver-gray with green edges and venation. As a color contrast the foliage would be enough, but there’s the bonus of soft blue (Baby’s breath-like) flowers that float over the top of the plant in spring. 12-15” tall, 12-15” wide. BTW, the word bugloss was evidently created just for this hairy-leaved plant from the Borage family. Who knew? Bees love, deer don’t. Shop here.

10. Pulmonaria ‘Moonshine’

Part to full shade, moist soil preferred. Like the Brunnera above this makes a predictable rosette - silver gray leaves interestingly dotted and spotted with green blotches, or is it just the reverse? Doesn’t really matter as the foliage is uniquely intriguing. This variety has good mildew resistance, often a minor issue with other Lungworts. 10” tall, 12-15” wide. The dainty flowers are unique as they change color as they age, which is fun, and hummingbirds think so, too. Deer abhor the fuzzy leaves.

Will any of these late summer charmers find their way into your garden and your heart? 

Also, in case you haven’t heard, this weekend, Fri 8/21 - Sun 8/22, we are having a BIG Plant Flash Sale! ALL in-stock perennials are 20% off, you can save $20 on a new beautiful Butterfly bush and all in-stock Japanese maple trees are 30% off. Shop now:  

Don't see what you are looking for? Our online shop is a curated selection of plants. To shop our entire collection stop in store and we can help you find what you are looking for.                                         

Tony Fulmer

Chalet's Chief Horticulturist Officer