Updated: Jul 17, 2022
Scientific Name: Campanula lactiflora
Common Name: Milky bellflower
Family: Campanulaceae (bellflower family)
This perennial is long flowering, and easy to grow, making it a great choice for the garden. While there are many cultivars of this species with a range of flower colours, the flowers are often white or pale blue, hence the name 'lactiflora' which means "milk-white flowers" in Latin. This species flowers in mid to late summer, but will flower again after being cut back. The flowers are bell-shaped and the leaves are alternately arranged on tall, multi-branched stems. While this perennial is rather easy to grow, it is somewhat aggressive so it would be best to plant this with some other aggressive species to keep it controlled. Something about the charming, white, bellflowers screams cottage garden but I can see how this would be great in many scenarios, backing a lower-growing perennial. It grows best in a good amount of sun (since Vancouver is a little cooler) and in well-drained soils as long as it gets regular moisture.
Scientific Name: Bistorta amplexicaule
Common Name: Fire cracker bistorta
Family: Polygonaceae (knotweed/buckwheat family)
Since I wrote a blog post about Bistorta officinalis in week 1 (and was slightly obsessed with it), I figured I have to continue inching my way toward being a bistorta expert. This species is native to the Himalayas, which means that it appreciates some shade in hotter climates, but also does well in full sun. With more sun, it will have more bronzy foliage. It also enjoys consistent moisture. This herbaceous perennial spreads via rhizomes, so while it's a very tough plant, it also will overtake small spaces. The rose-red flowers are long-lasting, and the red calyx persists after flowering. The leaves are oppositely arranged (typical of Polygonaceae), acuminate, and surround/clasp to the stems (amplexicaul). I think it looked rather fabulous and hard to miss with the reddish flowers popping up above a sea of overlapping green foliage. There! I am now a self-proclaimed bistorta expert.... on two bistortas.... kind of.
Scientific Name: Betonica (Stachys) macrantha
Common Name: Big betony
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
This herbaceous perennial is native to northeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, so it enjoys full sun but not if it's too hot. It has square stems, and dark green, scallop-edged leaves. Common in the Lamiaceae, this species' inflorescences are arranged in paired opposite comes (or a verticillaster). The flowers are beautifully intense pinkish-purple tubular flowers which are succeeded by a red calyx. This perennial is well-behaved and rewarding, making it a worthy choice for the landscape.
Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’
Common Name: Golden oregano
This highly popular sub-shrub is extremely valuable for many reasons. 'Aureum' is the golden variety of oregano, which has deep roots and is not as aggressive as the full green version of oregano. The small tubular flowers are produced in small terminal clusters above the foliage. More importantly, this species is one of the first to leaf out in the garden, and then it continues to get more golden throughout the summer, which is one of the reasons why it's so valuable. It's also great in full sun and drier soils, making it a great choice for xeriscapes. While the chartreuse-coloured foliage may not be everyone's slice of pizza (ha, get it? cause its oregano...), it seems like a very easy plant to contrast with other plants in the landscape.
Scientific Name: Astible x arendsii
Common Name: False spirea, hybrid astilbe
Hybrid astilbes are quite popular perennials for their brightly coloured inflorescences and green-bronzy foliage. The hybrid is a mix of Astilbe Chinensis, Astilbe Japonica, Astilbe thunergii, and Astilbe astilboides (North Carolina State, n.d.). They produce long-lasting showy flowers, as long as it is given adequate moisture. At Stanley Park, this perennial is displayed in front of a big patch of bright-white hydrangeas, which really makes the hot-pink hybrid astilbe pop. And the little bunny tails in front make for a really interesting planting scheme with loads of soft textures. The foliage is really coarsely toothed, which is a sign that it requires lots of water. They spread via rhizomes, and develop into erect, arching plumes. I have quickly come to adore astilbes and I can see how this would be a great choice for the moist, shadier spot in the landscape.
Scientific Name: Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’
Common Name: Korean mint 'Golden Jubilee'
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
This upright, clump-forming perennial is one of the few Agastaches that won't die in Vancouver's climate (one of the others being Agastache nepetoides). It has lovely lavender/mauve-coloured flower spikes that add some nice verticality to the garden. The foliage is licorice scented, golden-green and lance-shaped. Its pollinator-friendly flowers come relatively late which makes it valuable in the landscape, and it is rather low maintenance as it's pretty tolerant of many conditions.
Scientific Name: Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’
Common Name: Shrubby wallflower
Family: Brassicaceae (mustard family)
Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ was the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. While this biennial is rather exciting for its bright, showy flowers, I think its foliage is really the unique part about it. The foliage is grey-green and linear-shaped, and semi-evergreen in milder climates. The inflorescences are erect, rich mauve flowers that last for months. This can be used in many scenarios like beds and borders, rock walls, and is especially great in big containers. It prefers sunnier locations, and really needs fertile, alkaline (lime/calcium-rich) soils.
"Astilbe x arendsii." North Carolina State Plant Toolbox, https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/astilbe-x-arendsii/
"Bistorta amplexicaulis." Missouri Botanical Garden, https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=285452
“Campanula lactiflora (Milky Bellflower).” Gardenia.net, https://www.gardenia.net/plant-variety/campanula-lactiflora-milky-bellflower
"Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve (Wallflower)." Gardenia.net,
"Stachys macrantha." Missouri Botanical Garden,
"Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' (Golden Oregano)." Gardenia.net,