Best drought tolerant perennial: Echinacea Lakota 'Santa Fe' (its grown from seed, so it has slight color variations) flowers profusely in shades of red and orange. Its a good performer in both containers and landscape. Grows 12 - 16" tall.
Best heat-tolerant perennial: Sedum Rock 'N Grow 'Popstar' - a low-profile sedum that doesn't open up as it grows. It has blue-green foliage and salmon-pink flowers. The trial gardens manager says it is "a definite improvement over S. cauticola". It was un-phased in their trial gardens during an extra-hot and dry summer.
Best pollinator-friendly perennial: Salvia nemorosa 'Bumbleberry'. Its easy to maintain since it has a naturally compact habit, but its still a vigorous grower. About 12" tall and will re-bloom if dead-headed.
Best overall performance: Heuchera PRIMO 'Black Pearl'
"We were wowed right away by the visuals of this plant, and once we got it into production, we continued to be impressed….It truly lives up to the PRIMO name of larger, vigorous plants." Glossy black foliage can make a container planting pop!