When I think of gardening, I think of ordering my seeds in the late winter/early spring, prepping my beds, starting my seeds indoors, and starting my spring garden. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it, and is work that I love. One thing my husband and I have been trying to do recently is plant more perennial plants, trees, and bushes that come back year after year. You do the work of planting one time and reap the benefits of the established plants for years to come.
This appeals to me because I like the idea of the garden starting for me in the spring even when I don’t have my act together or get a late start. Asparagus starts to reach up in the air like little hands proclaiming to the world that they are here. Berry plants start to burst with green leaves, and strawberry plants perk up bright and green and begin to spread their runners. I love the diversity that perennials bring to the garden, and I think it’s a smart idea for every gardener to add them to their established gardens. In times of illness, emergency, or seasons of busyness, you can still have fresh food growing in your yard even if you can’t put forth the effort for traditional gardening.
Here are some of my favorite perennials to consider adding to your garden.
This is one of my favorite vegetables. Tender, bright and green, it’s quick cooking and so delicious. They can take a couple of years to get established, but an asparagus bed is well worth it. I would recommend buying asparagus starts rather than from seed. Starting from seed can be tricky and you’ll most likely have more success with the starts.
Sorrel is technically an herb I guess, but it acts a bit like a tender green like spinach. You can put it in salads, sauces, or soups. It’s a fantastic addition for the early spring when you are craving something light and green after a long winter of root vegetables and stews.
Red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, elderberry are my favorite perennials that we have planted in recent years. The delicate fruit tastes better than anything I have ever had at a grocery store and I just love fresh fruit. It’s such a treat! The berries can be used on their own, in jams and jellies, pies and desserts, or frozen for smoothies. Blueberry bushes may need netting to keep birds away. Those pesky little birds like to snatch the ripe berries for breakfast before I can pick them in the early morning. Another thing to be aware of with elderberries, is that they are not to be eaten raw as they can cause digestive distress. I planted an elderberry bush actually just for elderberry syrup for its immune boosting properties.
This is one that I don’t actually have in my yard, only because I don’t really care for it any other way than in desserts. I only like to grow what we enjoy as a family. Many do enjoy the pretty pinkish stalks and they make an interesting and beautiful addition to the edible perennial garden.
This is by far my children’s favorite perennial that we grow in our yard. I never knew strawberries could be so sweet before we started growing them in our garden. We have an entire 4×8 box dedicated to our strawberry patch because the plants grow and run and take over a space. They are a beautiful late spring delight and I recommend them to everyone.
My brother and sister in law planted a fig bush several years ago in our yard, and I am thrilled that they did. It grows very large but it produces a fruit that most people don’t think about growing at home. Figs can be pricey in the store which is why I love having an abundance of them growing in my backyard. The bush requires some pruning, but we have found it to be fairly low maintenance.
I do not have artichokes in my yard yet, but it definitely intrigues me. It grows like a thistle and can get fairly large. The artichokes can be used for the hearts or you can dip the stems in butter or aoli for a fabulous treat. Again, this one appeals to me because it’s not a common vegetable that many people grow at home.
Many of my herbs come back year after year. Tarragon, lavender, cilantro, oregano, mint, and rosemary all came back for me this year. I like to keep my herbs in pots and later them with a thick layer of mulched leaves. Every year I’m always shocked with my tarragon starts poking out of the pot as soon as the weather starts to get a bit warm. Herbs have transformed my cooking. I add them to everything can’t believe how much more flavor they impart rather than the dried herbs. Everyone should grow their own fresh herbs. Even apartment dwellers can grow herbs.
There’s something about having fresh fruit in your yard that is so special. We started with a wild fruit tree: mulberry. Every year we look forward to picking the berries from the trees and having fun watching them stain our hands and face. Last year we expanded our orchard to include apple, peach, and plum trees. I’m hoping next year we start to get fruit from them. They can take a while to get established, but I’m sure the wait will be well worth it.
Nut trees can be a bit tricky getting them before the squirrels steal them all. I don’t mind sharing, but those little guys are fast! In our yard we have walnut and heart nut trees. You could also consider almond, hazelnut, pecan, and chestnut. Another thing to consider is tapping maple trees for sap to make fresh maple syrup. You have to catch it at the right time at the end of winter, but I hear it’s a fun process.
Those are my picks for perennials to consider adding to your garden. Do you have any of these in your yard? Are there any that I missed that you enjoy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.