The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Announcing Perennial Plant of the Year

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

Angelina, Hillary, Fergie, Cher - just a few of the ladies recognized by their first names. In the gardening world a lovely lady named Rozanne has become a perennial favorite. The Perennial Plant Association has elevated Geranium 'Rozanne' to high priestess of the flower garden as the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year.

This winner is not just another pretty face in the garden. Award winners are chosen by the members of the Perennial Plant Association for the plant's beauty, but also for its durability, suitability to a wide range of climate types, low maintenance, multiple seasonal interest, and easy growing nature. As far as I know no superdelegates were involved.

The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) is a trade organization comprised of growers, retailers, educators, and garden writers that are dedicated to the improvement of perennial plants through education that enhances production, promotion and utilization of perennial plants.

One look at Geranium 'Rozanne' in the garden quickly seals a gardener's love for her. She is draped in iridescent violet-blue, slightly cup-shaped flowers with purple-violet veins streaming through the white centers and blue petals. The bloom period is remarkable with flowers starting in late spring and continuing well into fall. The dark green leaves have deeply cut margins and a slight hint of chartreuse colored marbling. In fall the leaves turn a lovely coppery red for a bit of late color in the flower garden.

'Rozanne' has a noteworthy stage appearance in the garden at 20 inches tall mounding to 24-28 inches wide. She is a tough gal surviving cold, heat, and drought. She appears to have no insect or disease problems. She doesn't take much maintenance; however, similar to many perennial geraniums her appearance is improved with a severe haircut down to three inches in August.

This year's winner has multiple uses in the landscape as a ground cover or in the front of the flower garden as a border or single specimen plant. 'Rozanne' is attractive paired with some of the past winners of the perennial plant of the year such as the white daisy Leucanthemum 'Becky', the white Phlox 'David', or deep purple-blue spiked flowers of Salvia 'May Night'. Pink flowers of Salvia 'Rose Queen', Salvia 'Pink Friesland', Veronica 'Tickled Pink' or Purple Coneflower 'Magnus' are also dramatic in combinations with 'Rozanne'. Let her ramble around daylilies, peonies, or roses. Give 'Rozanne' a backdrop with ornamental grasses such as Feather Reed Grass 'Karl Foerster' or Miscanthus 'Morning Light'.

The majority of the time I have whole-heartedly agreed with the Perennial Plant Association picks for perennial plant of the year. This year is no exception. I have found Geranium 'Rozanne' to be a winner in every way. Just a couple past perennial plants of the year, specifically Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' with its powdery mildew problems and Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' with its propensity to die every winter, have been disappointments. For reliable perennial performers, check out past winners at Perennial Plant Association's website www.perennialplant.org

Don't forget to order your daffodils during The American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days. The flowers will bring hope and cheer to cancer patients while raising money to support cancer research, prevention and early detection education, advocacy, and patient services. The daffodils you purchase will be delivered anonymously to cancer patients during the week of March 17 but you must order before February 22. Bunches of 10 daffodils are only $10. Potted bulbs, vased flowers, and even a stuffed bear to accompany the flowers is also available. For more information on ordering daffodils or to volunteer to assist the campaign, please call The American Cancer Society at (217) 356-9076. Ordering information is also available on-line at daffodil.acsevents.org or www.cancer.org/daffodils.

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