It’s not easy to admire a plant that I spent a few years trying to pull out of my lawn, all the while seeing the same plant growing on the side of the highway as I went to work. This was Achillea millefolium, the common Yarrow. Fortunately a hybrid between A. millefolium and the Greek native Achillea taygetea has produced a much more garden-worthy perennial, Achillea ”Moonshine.” I’m quite happy to have this plant growing in perhaps the hottest location in my garden, where it thrives with minimal attention, blooming for weeks on end.
Achillea “Moonshine” grows to about two feet high and wide. Flat clusters of canary-yellow blooms appear in summer, atop silvery-grey finely-cut foliage. If you shear down the blooms and stems after they’re finished you’ll be rewarded with another flush of bloom a few weeks later. Achillea is very drought and heat tolerant; where I have it growing afternoon temperatures regularly hit the high 30’s during July and August afternoons. The blooms attract butterflies, while the pungent foliage keeps deer from browsing. Plant in full sun and do not water or fertilize heavily or the plant will become floppy and unattractive.
Ornamental grasses are perfect companions for “Moonshine.” The violet-blue flower spikes of perennial Salvias such as “May Night” and “Caradonna” also look great with the yellow and grey. Plant Crocosmia “Lucifer” with “Moonshine” for a colour combination that really turns up the summer heat. Daylilies with almost any colour of bloom are good companions as well. “Moonshine” is almost the perfect perennial for a Mediterranean-theme planting; lavender and Russian sage would also look good in close proximity. Achillea is named for the Greek warrior Achilles. It’s said that the natural anti-coagulant properties of Achillea millefolium helped to staunch his battle-obtained wounds.

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