Each spring for many years, I have looked forward to the announcement of the Perennial of the Year, an award that recognizes outstanding garden flowers that have proven their worth across America.
The Perennial Plant Association gives and promotes this award and the plant gets its year of glory, sort of like a beauty pageant winner.
For these winners, the fame lasts, and many have become stars of perennial flower beds year after year. The Shasta daisy named Becky, the coreopsis Moonbeam and David phlox are just three honored since 1990 that have proved their worth.
This year the award goes to a perennial geranium named Biokovo, which was discovered years ago in the Biokovo Mountains of Croatia.
It has been sold in garden centers for some time by people who enjoy its small, white flowers that are tinged with pink and the slightly aromatic foliage. The foliage is medium green and semi-evergreen. As with most perennials, removal of faded or dead blooms improves the overall appearance.
This is a true geranium. Other popular plants sold in spring that are called geraniums belong to a different genus, named pelargonium. Biokovo belongs to the genus geranium.
The association says it is a naturally occurring hybrid of two species of geraniums.
It blooms in late spring and a well-grown plant should show masses of flowers, about 3/4 inch in diameter on a mounded plant, 6 to 10 inches tall. It takes ordinary garden soil in sun or part shade. Soil must be well-drained.
In the Piedmont, morning sun would be preferable to afternoon, which can be very hot and stressful in summer for many kinds of valuable perennials.
This geranium tends to bloom later than many spring-flowering perennials but well ahead of summer’s. This gives it an opportunity to stand out, combined perhaps with summer annuals such as bedding begonias.
There is fall interest as well, with the foliage taking on some scarlet and orange fall color. This is an asset in the flower bed since color tends to diminish there in autumn. This would look very nice fronting an assembly of chrysanthemums in vivid fall colors.
Biokovo will send out runners, but I have not found it to be an invasive nuisance like other plants, such as English ivy. These runners are easily clipped off and can be used to propagate more plants.
Nancy Brachey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I have leftover pots of paper-white narcissus that were pretty this winter, but look terrible now. Should I just throw them away?
A. That is one remedy, but not the only one. Another is to take the plant out of the pot. You should see several bulbs below the green foliage. Separate the bulbs gently, keeping the foliage intact and plant them in a sunny spot in your flower beds or in front of shrubs. The foliage will turn yellow and die pretty soon, but the bulbs should live to bloom again.