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Introduction to Top 5 Perennials of the West

The black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is the state flower of Maryland.

iStockphoto.com/Roofoo

­There is perhaps nothing more delightful than the first signs of spring. No matter where you live, winter can be a drag on the psyche. Once the first green buds of a new year arrive, the cycle begins, and everything can seem fresh and shiny again. You can fill your g­arden area with annuals, perennials, shrubs, herbs and even trees. You can organize plants and flowers based on color combinations, aromas or insect and bird preferences. Sometimes, you just like the flowers. That is often the case with perennials.

Perennials are a favorite of gardeners because they grow from year to year, instead of living out the complete lifecycle in one shot like annuals. As the seasons go by, perennials can gain more strength and even outlive some shrubs [source: Botanica's Pocket Annuals & Perennials].

Perennials can be used in a variety of ways to spice up your garden. Let your creativity roam free as you plan for and create new locations for your plants. Perennials can be used:

  • as borders along houses, outbuildings or trees
  • in large or small basic gardens
  • in container gardens (pots, tubs or window boxes)
  • in cut flower arrangements
  • as groundcover
  • in woodland or rock gardens

In this article, we're headed west. We'll take a look at the top five perennials to grow along the coast and in the Western states. The USDA Hardiness Zone Map zones these areas as 3-9. Depending on exactly where you are, you should check the zone map closely to see what will work best for you. But most likely, you won't have any problems growing our perennials of choice: Columbines, asters, poppies, dianthus and Black-eyed Susans/coneflowers. Read on to learn about each of these fascinating flowers.

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