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BHG Test Garden

One Hot Hydrangea

Hydrangea 'Little Honey'Hydrangeas are some of the most popular garden plants around — and for good reason. Most have gorgeous blooms and there’s a wealth of varieties, so you can find one for sun or shade, even in the North!

One of the most intriguing varieties is a golden-leafed oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’).

This little beauty has a lot going for it:

  • The bright chartreuse foliage looks awesome all spring and summer.
  • The leaves have incredible rosy-red fall color.
  • It blooms with white flower clusters for weeks in summer.
  • It’s a named selection of a North American native plant.
  • It has a dwarf habit (for oakleaf hydrangeas), growing only 4 feet tall and wide.
  • It loves a shaded or partially shaded spot.

This is a young specimen in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. It’s just the second year it’s in the ground so it still looks a bit runty, but the golden foliage really lights up the corner it’s tucked into!


Pic of the Day

Rosa glauca

Just a quick shot of Rosa glauca, one of my favorite roses because of its lovely purple foliage. It has single pink flowers in late spring and bright red hips in fall, but to me it’s the leaves that make this rose so awesome.

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Everything Goes with Black

Last November I wrote a blog post on starting a chocolate garden because I thought it was a fun topic, and quite frankly, I was craving chocolate (and didn’t have enough change on me to make a trip to the vending machine for a candy bar). Thinking about plants like the ‘Dark Chocolate’ coleus helped get me through…

It turns out I may have been ahead of the curve a little on a trend: black plants. Plants with dark foliage or flowers certainly aren’t new, but just last year publisher Timber Press released a book on the subject. And next year, our friends at Ball Horticultural are releasing a petunia called ‘Black Velvet’, the world’s first black petunia, as well as a black-and-cream sister variety called ‘Phantom’.

And this year in front of BHG headquarters, BHG Test Garden Manager Sandra Gerdes is planting a black border — full of richly hued plants such as Mystic Dreamer dahlia, ‘Purple Majesty’ ornamental millet, Illusion Midnight Lace sweet potato vine, and a host of others.

Why are dark foliage and flowers becoming so sought after? One reason, I think, is that it’s easy to use in the garden. Rich dark blackish-purples and reds pretty much go with every color (I’m especially fond of mixing them with sky blue) and look great as long as you don’t plant them in the shade where they tend to disappear in the dim light. Plus, I think there’s something intriguing about them — it’s a refreshing change from bold and bright reds, oranges, and yellows.

Watch for updates on our black border here on The Everyday Gardeners — and let me know by commenting below what you think of black plants and if you plan to grow any in your garden this year!


Celebrate National Public Gardens Day

Friday May 7th is a special day — it’s the first time this season the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden will be open to the public! It’s also National Public Gardens Day — a day to celebrate gardens around the the country.

In honor of it, the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden will have extended hours: Come walk through and see the sights from 12.00 to 4.00 p.m. (Normally the Test Garden is open Fridays from 12.00 to 2.00 p.m.)

Sandra Gerdes, the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden manager will be on hand to answer questions about the hundreds of flowering plants you can see in the Test Garden, including ‘Pink Impression’ tulips, which are looking particularly glorious right now. And if you have a shady spot in your yard, don’t miss the hostas and and stunning blue brunnera — both are in their prime!

If you stop by, be sure to ask Sandra about ‘Clarence’ the tall-bearded iris!

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