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.
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.
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.
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.
The following is a guest blog post from Angela Treadwell-Palmer, Co-owner of Plants Nouveau and involved with a variety of garden programs.
If you’re like me, you’ve tried all of the repeat flowering hydrangeas on the market. I hope you haven’t been as disappointed as I have. Yes, they bloom all summer, but it’s a bloom here, a bloom there, and the plant is never completely covered in blooms, right? Right! Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hokomarevo’ Everlasting™ Revolution is a game changer.
Not only does Revolution flower on new and old wood, making it sure to bloom for everyone, but the pink or blue (depending on the acidity of your garden soil) flowers fade to magical color combinations of deep rusty-pink and olive green, maroon and true blue, and even aqua and lime green. As the long summer days fade, each aging flower adds even deeper green highlights, extending the color in your garden well into the autumn.
This attractive, continuously blooming hydrangea not only has gorgeous, strong, long-lasting flowers, it’s a blooming machine. This might be the first super successful gift-to-garden plant. Here’s how it works; you buy it in full bloom for mom for mother’s day or Easter and enjoy it indoors for a month, then you can safely plant it in the garden and watch it bloom and grow for years and years – even in the colder regions of the US (USDA Zone 5)! Not many hydrangeas sold as gift plants are tough enough to be planted outside.
Wait – there’s more.
No house yet or no room to garden? Only have space for containers on your porch or patio? This amazing hydrangea will even survive outside in a large, freeze-proof container in many areas. Just give it a little water once in a while and let it sleep all winter. And since it grows to only 30” tall by 30” wide, you won’t need a big space or a big container. Its petite size is perfect for small, urban spaces, porches and patios. If you grew up with a Cape Cod-like cottage garden, but don’t have the space for larger mop head hydrangeas, this is the plant for you. All the color, all the nostalgia of grandma’s garden, cut flowers for the table and the perfect little garden plant all in one, who could ask for more?
Why buy a reblooming hydrangea when you can have an, Everlasting™ blooming machine?
Angela’s career has spanned almost every aspect of gardening, garden design and teaching folks how to garden with plants – especially natives. She most recently managed the development of new gardens for the U.S. National Arboretum. Angela managed new plant introduction and marketing for the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Conard-Pyle Co. She has designed and installed many private gardens throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
Angela founded and now Co-owns Plants Nouveau LLC; a company that specializes in introducing and marketing new plants to the nursery industry. She’s been directing the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University for the past eleven years. Angela’s career has taken her around the world, experiencing world famous gardens and remote areas looking for new ideas and exciting plants.
I learned quickly when we started working on our backyard, that small gardens and winding paths don’t exactly mix well with high-energy, long-legged dogs. Our vizsla, Birch, hurdles over shrubs and flowers every day, stands smack dab in the middle of my Solomon’s Seal, or tramples on my hostas. It usually doesn’t bother me, except when he sprints by my hydrangeas. Oh boy. I always cringe, hoping he’s not too close. I follow behind him, picking up the hydrangea twigs that snap off. Here’s what I do to take advantage of the broken branches!
1. Use new, green growth – not the woody area of the stem, it’s older and won’t produce roots.
2. Dip the tip in rooting hormone, about an inch or so. (Using rooting hormone is optional, but I think it really helps!)
3. Clip large leaves in half, so the plant will focus energy on producing roots.
4. Plant in healthy, organic soil. Consider adding perlite and/or vermiculite to help retain moisture for the new roots.
5. Water, wait and then transplant to the ground!
I planted two cuttings in the terra cotta pots above last summer. (The plastic bags only stayed on for the first week or so. I didn’t think they were totally necessary, so I didn’t leave them that way for long.) Once I could feel that the plants had put out a few roots (just tug lightly to feel if there’s resistance), I moved them to the backyard to be in their natural elements. They grew a good bit in the fall so I transplanted them to a bigger container for the winter.
As soon as the weather got warm this spring (around April), I planted them in the ground and they’ve almost doubled in size already! Each plant had a really complete root system, which I was pleasantly surprised to see.
Hydrangeas are an easy plant to propagate, so give it a try this summer! I am thrilled with this easy method of expanding my garden. Now that I know I can do it, I don’t mind as much when Birch takes off sprinting through the garden. In fact, I kind of hope for a stray branch I can take care of.
Photos from my Instagram
Love hydrangeas? It’s hard not to with blooms this gorgeous!
My favorite thing about January is when I start to receive plant catalogs and get to learn all about all the wonderful new plant varieties for the year. Plant breeders are always working on upgrading our favorite plants — and creating whole new types never before seen by gardeners! Upgraded varieties may come in new colors, offer better disease resistance, offer a bigger or smaller habit, or any other number of features that make them perfect for your garden.
It’s probably no surprise then, that I love putting together the new plants stories you see here on BHG.com. This year I had the pleasure of working with my friends Doug Jimerson and Karen Weir-Jimerson on the lineup. (I had the easy job: picking the plants; they did the fantastic writing.) Are you interested in learning about the must-have plants for 2013? Check out the links below!
Comment below and tell me which ones you’re most excited about!
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!
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.
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!