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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Plant Talk

Getting the best bloom from your perennials

Special to The Seattle Times

Q: I'm replanting a sunny area after digging out a bunch of old bushes. I love flowers, and want to put in a border of perennials. Which bloom longest?

A: Of course it depends on sun, shade, soil and water, but if you provide good conditions for these perennials, they will all bloom for many weeks, especially if you deadhead regularly. Some of the longest-blooming perennials for sun are: Coneflowers (Echinacea) sea holly (Eryngium), Gaillardia grandiflora, Geum, Coreopsis, daylilies (Hemerocallis), Yarrow (Achillea), phlox, Rudbeckia hirta, sedums, globe thistle (Echinops ritro), lungwort (Pulmonaria) Euphorbias, and asters, especially Aster x frikartii 'Monch'.

Q: I'm overwhelmed by gardening information on the Internet. Where should I start? Do you have favorite Web pages?

A: The Internet is a fount of gardening information, but not necessarily garden knowledge. I'm always a little cautious, and usually double-check information in a reliable reference book. That said, I Google nearly every plant I hear about, and am amazed at what information is available even on the newest and more obscure plants. Just type a plant name into Google, common or botanical, and you'll come up with articles, nursery and seed sources, as well as commentary from various gardening forums. Google also politely corrects your spelling: "Are you sure you don't mean Cotinus coggygria?" if you don't get it quite right the first time.

Nursery Web pages are often the best place to find photos of plants, especially newer ones not yet in reference books, and Google usually indicates whether there's a photo. Also, I regularly read through new introductions at major wholesalers like Monrovia and Hines to learn about what I'll be seeing in the nurseries. Specialty nurseries are a great source of information on plant selection and care — check out the Web pages for B&D Lilies (www.lilybulb.com), or the pages for Joy Creek (www.joycreek.com) or Heronswood Nursery (www.heronswood.com) to generate a little plant fervor.

Check out davesgarden.com, which advertises itself as an active group of gardeners and farmers sharing information, plants and seeds. It seems like one of the most thorough and well organized of the gardening pages, indexes more than 4,000 mail-order nurseries by zip code and plant offerings, and rates gardening books and nurseries.

Two Web sites devoted to information for Northwest gardeners are www.rainyside.com and www.slugsandsalal.com. Or ask master gardeners questions, as well as learn about free publications, at gardening.wsu.edu. For updated lists of plant sales, books and resources, check in regularly at Elisabeth C. Miller Library's home page www.millerlibrary.org.

Valerie Easton also writes about Plant Life in Sunday's Pacific Northwest Magazine. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail planttalk@seattletimes.com with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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