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.