Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 29, Globe Flower

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Trollius in bloom. (Wikipedia image)

Globe flower (Trollius) is one of my favorite garden perennials because of its adaptability. It grows well in both part shade and sunny borders, and though it prefers relatively moist soil conditions and is often recommended for pond or stream-side sites, or poorly draining clay soils, it also adapts well to sandy, well-draining soil as long as it’s not allowed to dry out. Its sunny yellow or gold flowers provide a shot of cheery springtime color, especially if they’re mingling in a shadier part of the garden. The globe-shaped flowers are held well above the attractive, compact foliage on slender yet sturdy stems that never need staking. These strong stems make it a decent cut flower, with blooms lasting for a few days
in a vase. You can divide globe flower in the fall to create more plants.

With some varieties hardy to USDA Zone 2, globe flower is a valuable perennial for northern gardens. I like ‘Lemon Queen’, (T. x cultorum) not only for the striking color of its blooms, but also because it’s a little more compact than some other varieties and adds bright color to the middle of the border. Another attractive variety is ‘Golden Queen’, (T.chinesis), which has blooms that are more orange or tangerine colored than yellow, and at 24 inches or taller is a good choice for the back of the border. If it’s small stature you’re looking for, try dwarf globe flower (T. pumilus). Less than a foot tall, it’s sure to command attention at the front of the bed, and it also works especially well in rock gardens.

—Tom McKusick