Coneflower

BHG Guest Blogger

Tried-and-True Plants for the Midwest

The following is a guest blog post from Kathleen Hennessy.

When I walk through my yard, there are certain plants that just stand out every year. Season after season they put a smile on my face, delivering beautiful color with minimal care. These easy to grow and easy to love plants are what define tried and true for me.

First Editions® Tiger Eyes Sumac


When people force me to choose just one favorite shrub, I always say Tiger Eyes Sumac. The leaves of this unique plant are simply stunning. In the spring, they start out a bright chartreuse green then change to a glowing yellow. As beautiful as Tiger Eyes is in the summer, its amazing fall color really grabs your attention. The leaves become a wonderful combination of yellow, orange and scarlet. Throughout the entire growing season this plant literally glows in the garden.

Tiger Eyes grows to about six feet in height and width. Planted in groups it makes an excellent back boarder. Planted alone, it’s a great feature plant in a large container or in the garden. The beautiful colors won’t fade in bright light and this sumac is slower to sucker. It is recommended for Zones 4-8.

Coneflowers


If you’re looking for bulletproof blooms, you want to go native. Coneflowers, or Echinacea, are native to Midwest prairies and can tolerate our cold winters and scorching summers.

The flowers of this tough perennial come in a variety of colors, brightening the garden from summer through fall. Best of all, they attract birds and butterflies.

In the past few years, several new varieties have hit the market. But, if we’re talking tried-and-true, I stick with the old standbys. ‘Magnus,’ ‘Prairie Splendor,’ and ‘White Swan’ have performed year after year in my garden.

Newer varieties like ‘PowWow Wild Berry’ and ‘Hot Papaya’ deliver amazing color and great bloom power. PowWow’s compact shape and Hot Papaya’s double blooms make them garden standouts.

See top coneflower varieties from the Better Homes and Gardens’ Test Garden.  

 

Hydrangea Paniculata


Here in the Midwest, your Hydrangea success really depends on picking the right varieties. If you’re looking for a variety that is tried and true, you’re looking for a Hydrangea paniculata.

Paniculata varieties are hardy, easy to grow and produce spectacular cone shaped blooms that are beautiful outside in the garden or inside in a vase.

One of my favorites is First Editions® Vanilla Strawberry. The enormous, bright white blooms turn a soft pink, then become a beautiful strawberry-red as the nights get cooler. The blooms hold their color longer than many other varieties.

Vanilla Strawberry prefers full sun and grows to about six or seven feet. It is recommended for Zones 4-8. Learn more about growing Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea here.

If you’re looking for a smaller Hydrangea paniculata, try Little Lime. This shrub grows only to about three to five feet, making it perfect for a smaller garden space or even a container. The blooms start out a lime green, then turn creamy white. As the flowers age, they take on a slightly pinkish color. Recommended for full sun or partial shade, Little Lime is hardy to Zone 3.
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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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Justin W. Hancock

Horticulture on a Grand Scale

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the folks at Bailey Nurseries in Minnesota. Perhaps best known for being the company behind Endless Summer hydrangeas, Bailey is a large wholesale company that does virtually everything big.

It’s amazing going to their growing fields and seeing thousands of plants in blocks, ready to be shipped off to garden centers around the country. Below is a block of gorgeous Endless Summer hydrangeas in their prime. They extend almost as far as the eye can see — and this is just one section. There are other sections like this of just about every variety they sell, including their roses. A block of hundreds of roses is breathtaking!

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I also had the great luck to see some newer varieties on the market — again, in their prime. Here’s ‘Pink Double Delight’ coneflower (which I love; it’s a fantastic performer in my garden!) — again this isn’t a planted bed, these are all individual pots.

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The Bailey Nurseries staff also let me see their gorgeous display gardens where they test out varieties before they sell them. Instead of planting everything in organized rows, though, the company let their staff have a little fun with garden design and created several acres of lush plantings. It was a feast to the eyes!


Justin W. Hancock

Wordless Wednesday!

It’s Wednesday…that means time to show off some fantastic photos from the BHG Share My Gallery.

Echinacea 'Coral Reef'A beautiful coneflower in the summer garden of reader lvs2grdn!

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Perennial hibiscus 'Luna Pink Swirl' from reader luvs2grdn

Perennial hibiscus 'Luna Pink Swirl' from reader luvs2grdn

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Stunning 'Belinda's Dream' rose from reader stefanie2629061

Stunning 'Belinda's Dream' rose from reader stefanie2629061

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Justin W. Hancock

Wordless Wednesday!

It’s Wednesday…that means time to show off some fantastic photos from the BHG Share My Gallery.

Coneflower (Echinacea)

A beautiful coneflower in the summer garden of reader lvs2grdn!

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A gorgeous summer garden shot from reader englek1582889!

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We love this charming, country-style garden shed from reader joyfrank821!

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And see more great photos from our blogging friends Rob, Chris, Bren, and Saxon!


Justin W. Hancock

Hot – Hot – Hot

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’!