Plants

Shawna Coronado

Perennial Foliage and Glass Adds Interest In The Garden

Lady Fern and Halcyon Hosta

When I was young I loved visiting my grandmother’s shady perennial beds in central Indiana. They were filled with every leafy shape the mind could imagine, yet rarely a flower could be found. My grandmother taught me that there are other beautiful options that can bring just as much joy to your gardening heart. Both foliage and decorative glass offer colorful alternatives to the traditional blooming beds and I use them as much as I can in my own garden.

Foliage

Planning your foliage garden well means your garden can stay beautiful year round without flowers. Mixing leaf structures and plant heights adds interest. At the top you see Fern ‘lady fern’ mixed with Hosta ‘halcyon’ in my side garden at home. I love the blue of the hosta because it contrasts marvelously with the bright green of the soft, feathery-leaved ferns.

A favorite combination is to mix some coleus love into my shade vegetable containers. Lacinto Kale from Bonnie Plants and Coleus from Hort Couture’s ‘Under the Sea’ line make a fabulous color splash together. No flowers can be seen, but the foliage color is astounding and really adds to a shade patio container arrangement (see below).

Lacinto Kale with Coleus

Heuchera and Hosta

Mixing Heuchera and Hosta together can be a brilliant foliage combination. In the garden bed above you see a random bed plan of Heuchera ‘snow angel’ and Heuchera ‘beaujolais’ mixed with Hosta ‘krossa regal’, Hosta ‘gold standard’, and Hosta ‘half and half’.

wine bottle border

Glass

Bottle Tree along pathWant to keep your perennials in place while adding color and interest with glass? Bring whimsical glass accessories in to the garden beds. I have endless wine bottle paths (photo above) draped with ground cover and a fantastic bottle tree (photo right) I found at Carolee’s Herb Farm, a favorite stop whenever I am in central Indiana.

Bottle trees are a remarkably cool folk art brought from Africa and the Middle East centuries ago and were originally used to capture bad spirits. Now they capture color and light and bring a bit of joy to my suburban shade garden.

Below are two books I recommend to help you study up on filling your garden with color not found in a flower; Fine Foliage by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is a delightful full color book which brings wonderful ideas for foliage color combinations, and Bottle trees.. and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass by Felder Rushing is an outstanding full color celebration of creative glass-in-the-garden creations.

Bottle Trees Book and Fine Foliage Book

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


BHG Guest Blogger

Big Impact in a Small Space

The following is a guest blog post from Kathleen Hennessy.

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average lot sizes in the U.S. are getting smaller and that means less space for landscaping. As a result, many plant breeders are working to create smaller, more compact shrubs for homeowners.

That breeding work is developing great new varieties that create big impact without taking up a lot of space in your yard.

Bailey Nurseries, the company that brings you Endless Summer® Hydrangeas, Easy Elegance® Roses and the First Editions® new plants brand, has several new varieties that fit. “These shrubs pair low maintenance with great color, all wrapped up in a smaller package,” says Natalia Hamill Brand and Business Development Manager at Bailey’s. “Best of all, they’re really easy to grow.”


First Editions® Little Devil ninebark is the perfect example of smaller size shrub creating a big statement. Typical ninebark varieties can reach 6- to 10-feet tall. Little Devil tops out at just four feet. It offers all the great attributes of ninebark including beautiful burgundy foliage and white-pink flowers in June.


Little Devil is easy to grow and needs little pruning. Its compact size makes it the perfect fit for any landscape. I love Little Devil in containers too. Little Devil can be grown in Zones 3-7.


The First Editions® Magic crape myrtle series offers great disease resistance and richer colors. Midnight Magic blooms with stunning, dark pink flowers backed by deep purple foliage. It’s more compact, growing from only 4- to 6-feet, and keeps a nice rounded shape in Zones 6-9.

For Southern gardeners, Zones 7-9, First Editions® Crimson Fire fringe flower is a small space star.  Neon-pink flowers cover the plant in spring, while the deep, ruby foliage adds interest all season long.

Its compact, low spreading form makes it a great foundation plant. Since it only grows 2- to 3-feet in height and width, it’s also a stunning in a container.

For more info, visit FirstEditionsNewPlants.com.

 

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Kathleen Hennessy has been writing on gardening and DIY topics for more than 15 years. You can read more about her Zone 3 and Zone 4 gardening challenges in her blog at 29minutegardener.com, or follow her on Twitter @29mingardener.
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Katie Ketelsen

Take a Garden Risk! Three Flower Projects to Try This Year

I’m generally a shoot-from-the-hip kind of gal in the garden.

I’ll pack plants in a container tighter than I probably should.

I’ll plant spring-blooming bulbs in spring knowing they should have been dug-in before November.

I’ll even let my 15 month old son do the planting. (You’ll notice the proper positioning of the bulbs — right?)

I’ll buy flowering poppy on complete impulse, in the middle of February……

knowing full well I’ll be lucky to keep it alive until May. (But really, how could you not take this guy home?!?)

 

All while thinking to myself: “Do as I say people, not as I do!”

Every year is a new experiment in my garden. But if you’re looking to try something new in your garden, but maybe not as risky as I have been, here are three tried-and-try projects you should consider:

1. Add more blooms to your front yard.

Admittedly, I love the feel and smell of fresh-cut grass, but secretly long for an ever-blooming front yard. I’m already thinking of how to carve out a few more flower beds in my landscape. If you’re a busy bee like me, worried about keeping the new plants watered, don’t pull the entire lawn up in one season. Work your way to the edges.

 

2. Plant a cut-flower garden for fresh bouquets all year round.
 

Another baby-stepping-project in my landscape is to slowly add more flowers for fresh bouquets all summer long. This is just a no-brainer for me. I love flowers. I love bouquets. I love to save money.

 

3. Beckon the butterflies, birds and hummingbirds.

This is definitely on my to-do list this year. I’ve installed fragrant plants such as butterfly bush, lantana and verbena to help lure the butterflies and hummingbirds. This is an easy project even if you don’t have a yard, use containers!

Another project I’m attempting this year is to plant vegetables among my perennials and shrubs. I know this isn’t a new trend, but it’s new to me and am very anxious to pluck fresh green beans!

What are you trying for the first time in your garden this year?


Shawna Coronado

Two Easy Care Annuals That Make A Seasonal Color Splash

Wall of Coleus

Every year I am faced with the oh-so-dramatic container flower decisions. I like to call it the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational. Much like I did as a teenager while trying to get up enough courage to jump off the high-dive; I will stand for hours at my local garden center with a look ofLantana and Beets in Garden terror on my face as I try to decide which plant is the perfect one to combine with the others. Inevitably it’s an impossible decision: What child are you going to plant? Who’s going to walk the plank? Which plant is going to be the best mixer at the container party?

In the end, my choices always come down to two determining questions:

1. Which plant is the easiest to care for?

2. What color combinations am I going with this year?

When I think of easy annuals to grow there are two spectacularly colorful plants that make my top-of-the-top favorite plant list: coleus and lantana. Each make an amazing splash in the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational in either the sun or shade category. These plants are fantastic mixers and can function as a either a feature plant or a blender plant in an urban container, planting bed, or vertical wall garden. Both types of plants have multiple varieties and plenty of color selections for the casual gardener at your local garden center.

To the right you see Luscious Berry Blend Lantana rocking the socks off my full sun vegetable garden as a border plant. Lantana is a great sunny spot solution and is perfect for attracting butterflies. Below is a photo of the lantana layered in a gorgeous pink and green container display with multiple annuals.

 Lantana in Plant Container Design

Have a shady spot? There is nothing better than a coleus to brighten up a dark corner. At the top of this page is a magnificent vertical wall garden done up with Emotions Inspired Coleus and impatiens. Lantana mixes well with leafy vegetables in a mixed vegetable container as well as annual flowers. Below is an equally bold display of mixed variety coleus, impatiens, and sweet potato vine at a restaurant on an urban street.

Need a simple solution for your containers that will add a punch of color? Lantana and coleus are two great, easy-to-grow plants that mix well with most annuals in your container party.

Coleus and Impatiens in Shade


Whitney Curtis

In-Season Plants: Foxglove

One of my favorite colorful additions to a shade garden is the tall and funny-shaped foxglove. When I first started gardening, I was a little bummed that having a backyard full of trees meant that I would miss out on the colorful bursts of bright day lilies, poppies and coneflowers that would flourish in a sunny spot. I found a pleasant surprise this spring when the non-blooming foxglove I planted last summer shot quickly out of the ground in all its purple glory!

Up against a sea of fern and Solomon’s Seal greenery, this little flower has quickly provided great color inspiration for me to try to build on. I’m already planning where I’ll add another and what other vibrant shade-loving plants I can find. Astilbe, anyone?

My foxgloves are in rich, well drained soil with only dappled sunlight throughout the day. In my Atlanta, GA garden (Zone 7b-8a) they started blooming in late March and early April. They’re delicate but tough, I think, which is part of their charm. See more planting details on foxglove here.

Photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa

 


Shawna Coronado

Build a Lavish Tropical Great Gatsby Garden

Tropical Plant Orange Flowers and Sedum

Gatsby is out in the movie theaters and audiences everywhere have been wowed with the views of the astoundingly beautiful gardens in the show. This movie and its gorgeous garden-filled sets really speak to the classic book the movie is based on, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby makes aTropical Plants and Cabbage powerful statement about the roaring ‘20’s and how one bootlegger lives lavishly in a time when so many could not. Decadent living is out of reach for the average gardener as well. However, it is easy to have a garden that looks lavish, even if you do not have the cash on hand to build a Hollywood Movie Set in your front lawn.

The secret? Tropicals. I have been using tropicals for years to make a powerful color statement. Tropical plants are singularly the most decadent denizens in my Northern Zone 5b garden. They look rich and have an amazing power to be eye-catching in nearly every combination you can think of.

A few of my favorite tropicals are seen here in photos from my front lawn tropical garden. Combining giant Mega-Cabbage from Bonnie Plants with a creative selection of tropical cannas and elephant ear (colocasia) from Plants Nouveau resulted in a fantastic, rich, over-the-top tropical garden. In the photos for this garden bed you see Canna Maui Punch, Canna Orange Sparkler, Canna Blueberry Sparkler , and Colocasia Red-Eyed Gecko. Contrasting colors like chartreuse, purple, blue-gray, and orange make a fabulous eye-catching combination for a mixed annual and vegetable bed.

Tropical Plant Canna Orange and Yellow Flower

With their bold leaf colors and gorgeous flowers, tropical plants have a way of making any visitor to your garden smile and they combine well with perennials, annuals, or vegetables. Better yet, you can save money by over wintering the tropical plants from year to year. Remove them just before frost, cut off the tops of the plants (save the root system), store in the winter in a cool, dry location. Then plant again in the spring time in a soil rich with compost after all danger of frost is gone.

Build a Gatsby Garden and bring a beautiful and lavish look to your neighborhood this summer.

Tropical Plant Canna Orange and Yellow Flower

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.