I chose wildflowers and natives - love the butterflies and hummingbirds that are attracted to my garden.
Since my garden is English garden/cottage gardening I love surprises when Mother Nature intervenes and perfectly proportioned plants pop up in an esthetically pleasing area of the garden. I don't remember planting them there but there they are. Maybe it's my pathetic memory or God and Mother Nature working together to make this small miracle happen. I do believe that God smiles down on the beauty of a garden. Every seed is a miracle to me and I generally start most plants by seed. I sure appreciate his hand in my somewhat chaotic garden though.
I voted other. My latest passion is natives, which I am trying to incorporate into my mostly cottage type beds, and also encourage/plant in my outlying fields and woodlands. I also have an herb labyrinth, a shrub border along our driveway, and lots of spring bulbs. So, a little of everything, although not a big fan of tropicals (they just look out of place to me in my area).
I am trying to concentrate on plants that are used as host or nectar sources for the butterflies; a lot of which are native plants. I have enjoyed raising several types of caterpillars and releasing the butterflies in my yard. This one stuck around for a close-up.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly...host plant I used was Rue, also have Citrus for them.
Other here too... I agree with Cececoogans' comment "My favorites are whatever is blooming at the moment" !
I find my favorites cycle thru the full year and right now, it is a toss between succulents and herbals as the summer days wind down.
I chose "tropicals", even though I only live in zone 6! Each fall, I dig up banana plants, cannas, glads, caladiums, and even a few palms in order to overwinter them. I also have quite a few potted tropicals that I overwinter in our little greenhouse each year. It is a lot of work, so tropicals must be my favorites, even though I do love all the categories listed. I have found musa basjoo, which is hardy to my zone with protection, and found some micro climates, where I can leave some cannas and passion flower vines in the ground. Bring on the global warming! (haha)
I love them all, and have plants from almost all of the categories, but my true love is bulbs. After a long, dreary winter, nothing lifts my spirits like seeing the first green little noses pressing their way through the frost. I've had two different people tell me that they change their walking routes to pass my yard in the spring, when it is a mass of daffodils, tulips, muscari, and hyacinth. I just wish they enjoyed a longer season! Last year I added more than 50 lily bulbs and 30 gladioli, trying to extend the color bursts between the perennials!
It is hard to pick a category; but for lenght of time in flower, it has to be flowering shrubs:
Winter: Viburnum x bodnantense, Daphne bholua, Hamamelis, Cotoneasters, Pyracanthas for berries
Spring: Chaenomeles with the unfolding leaves of Acer palmatum.
Summer: Potentillas, Hypericums, Fuchsia, Hydrangeas, Lavandulas,
The multi effect of Leycesteria formosa (flowers, berries, stems),
etc. etc. etc.
Tried and true perennial cultivars such as coneflowers, dahlias, phlox, clematis, chrysanthemums, and poppies. But in general, if it blooms, I love it. (To tell the truth, anything that has luscious green leaves and tolerates clay.)
Other activities are taking up more and more of my retirement time, so I am gradually moving to flowering shrubs to reduce my garden chores. Only problem is their relatively short bloom time. My favorites so far are Viburnum carlesi for its wonderful aroma, Kerria for its cheerful yellow buttons, Rhododendron for keeping its leaves in winter, Variegated Daphne for its all season good looks, Doublefile Viburnum for commanding attention, Lespedeza for fall color when not much else is happening, and Weigela for a burst of glory in summer.
I do enjoy all plants, but my faves are the tropicals. I can allow all of that lush greenery to crazily grow where it wants and get by with my garden 'looking like a jungle'
just pull the occassional weed, water well and voila! my garden work is done! (except for planting all of the new arrivals I constantly aquire to fill my addiction, LOL)
I love them all, but for interesting leaves, textures and colors, not really for the flowers that come and go so quickly. My very favorite is dappled willow, and a mimosa that I cut down each fall so it stays small like a shrub. Sweet potato vines and feathery cypress vines, oh so pretty!
SO hard to choose just one "favorite" 'cause I love my bulbs, natives, hummers-birds-and-bee pleasers.. . BUT, hydrangeas are especially dear to my heart. I love them for their variety, their big-hearted blossoms, their willingness to bloom for months on end, and their versatility in dried-arrangements.
Despite there being a rather limited selection for my zone, my favorite perennials are the ones that provide a real visceral reaction in me every time I see them. I look upon my small field of purple tinged 8 foot tall Angelica atropurpurea, see the millions of bugs feeding upon them, and the accompanying birds that eat the bugs, and I almost can't help from yelping with delight. The same goes for Inula, Verbascum nigrum, lovage, and ironweed. It's not necessarily the height that gets me, but rather the "Wow!" factor associated with these plants. The swarms of animal life they support only adds to the effect.