BHG Test Garden

Justin W. Hancock

Picture of the Day

Written on August 23, 2010 at 6:40 am , by

blogblackpearlHere’s a real “wow” plant for you! ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper. Enjoy it for its dark foliage in spring and early summer — then the grape-sized round black fruits enchant in summer before they put on a real show and turn dazzling red in early autumn. It’s one of my favorite varieties — a staple in my garden (and an All-America Selections winner back in 2006!).


Justin W. Hancock

Who Needs Flowers

Written on August 19, 2010 at 6:08 am , by

blogroseA few weeks ago I posted a picture of one of my favorite roses, Rosa glauca, which features fantastic purple foliage. The flowers are cute enough — they’re pink and have five petals, like a wild rose, but they take a backseat to the foliage.

Then in late summer, the hips put on a show by turning glowing shades of orange and red. They attract birds, too. Plus, it’s very hardy — all the way to USDA Zone 2 (40 degrees below zero)!

So with a rose like this, who really needs flowers?


Justin W. Hancock

Meadowsweet Rocks

Written on June 24, 2010 at 8:47 am , by

Filipendula rubra 'Venusa'Meadowsweet (aka queen of the prairie, or in Latin, Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’) has long been one of my favorite perennials.

This beauty features fluffy flowers that look like cotton candy in June and early July. It’s great for attracting butterflies, too! And it’s native to North America.

The foliage has a fun texture — the leaves are divided and toothed, so even when meadowsweet isn’t in bloom it looks great.

I took this picture in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden® this morning — you might be able to get a sense of size if you look at the arborvitae in the background; this meadowsweet can grow to 6 feet tall!

It grows best in full sun or light shade and moist soil. It’s handled drought okay in my yard, but performs best when kept moist. Like many perennials, meadowsweet forms a clump as it matures, so it’s easy to divide and share with friends or create more summertime pink exclamation points in your yard.


Justin W. Hancock

Hot – Hot – Hot

Written on June 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm , by

I was walking through the Test Garden the other day when I came across this beauty in full bloom. Do you recognize it?

A number of our Test Garden visitors are suprised to know it’s a coneflower! The variety is ‘Hot Papaya’ and it’s a showstopper, eh?

‘Hot Papaya’ offers blooms in a bright shade of orange-red, and wiht a frilly cone. It bears all the other attributes of coneflowers: A long bloom season, it attracts butterflies, and it holds up well to heat and drought. Oh and one other thing? ‘Hot Papaya’ is also fragrant.

It’s part of a new generation of coneflowers. Plant breeders have gone far beyond the traditional purple; you can find doubles like this in shades of orange, orange-red, white, and pink — and we’ll no doubt be seeing lots of other cool ones at our local garden centers in the future.

Stop by the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden this summer to see other cool varieties like ‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Milkshake’!


Justin W. Hancock

Quick Shot from the Test Garden

Written on June 15, 2010 at 7:39 am , by

Stachys 'Pink Cotton Candy'

One of the great things about perennials is that there’s such a wide variety — it seems like there’s always something new to discover!

Take this plant: It’s common name is betony (Stachys ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ for those of you who love plant names in Latin). It’s closest common garden relative is lamb’s ears. Like lamb’s ears, it has great foliage — though it’s dark green and quilted instead of soft and silvery. Betony’s blooms are prettier, too — a delightful shade of soft pink.

The ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ variety blooms from June to August and grows 2 feet tall and wide. It loves full sun, tolerates poor soil and droughty conditions, and deer and rabbits pass it by. I’ve not tried it as a cut flower, but it seems like it would make a good one.

I’m thinking it would make for a great groundcover, too — the foliage stays relatively low so if you cut the dead flower stalks off you’d have an undulating carpet of those dark green textured leaves.

If you’re in the area, come by the BHG Test Garden on Fridays to see it in bloom for yourself!


Justin W. Hancock

Pic of the Day

Written on June 4, 2010 at 8:32 am , by

Geum 'Koi'

Just a quick shot of Geum ‘Koi’, a wonderful heat- and drought-tolerant plant in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden.