Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


I’ve always been a huge fan of dianthuspinks. They’re the perfect perennial to line the edge of your flower beds, add a pop of color in those tight spaces, or even accent your container garden. My only beef with them was their bloom didn’t last long enough to satisfy my blooming-hunger!

Thankfully there’s a hot, new dianthus available for 2013 that blooms and blooms and blooms. The EverLast pink series is available in five, beautiful, double-blooming colors!



Burgundy Blush



Personally, my eye is drawn to the white dianthus first. There are so few, reliable white-flowering perennials that you almost have to go with this one first. Runner-up would be orchid. I usually go for the sharp tones versus a light, pastel color. Which one is your favorite?

In case you’re not familiar with pinks, here are some specifics for the EverLast series:

Scientific Name: Dianthus interspecific
Hardiness Degree: -20°F (-28.9°C)
Blooming Season: Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Autumn, Winter, Late Summer
Plant Habit: Mounded
Height: 8 - 12″ (20 - 30cm)
Width: 10 - 14″ (25 - 36cm)
Exposure: Sun

Make sure you talk with your local garden center or landscaper to see how you can get some EverLast (everblooming) dianthus in your garden!

I love perennial hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos hybrids). I know some gardeners think they’re garish and too flashy, but the tropical feel they endow to the garden be so much fun. And they’re so easy to grow! Few perennials tolerate the range of conditions — from hot and dry to wet soil — that perennial hibiscus do.

And it’s really exciting that plant breeders are continuing to work on them, giving gardeners more choices than ever to add to the landscape. One variety I’m particularly excited about is Hibiscus ‘Hypnotic’. This stunner offers 11-inch-wide pale pink flowers with deeper stripes that radiate from a glowing red throat. It’s accented by finely cut purple-tinted foliage that looks great all summer and autumn.

Another exciting aspect to the plant is that it grows only 42 inches tall — so it’s easier than ever to tuck into the garden. Pair it with pink coneflowers, coreopsis (such as ‘Cosmic Evolution’), and Rozanne perennial geranium for a combo that flowers all summer long, no matter what the weather’s like.

Look for ‘Hypnotic’ hibiscus at your local garden center this spring!

It isn’t pretty. Three successive nights of freezing temperatures in my yard have taken their toll on a landscape far advanced beyond its normal stage of growth for this time of year due to an unseasonably warm March. At first glance things don’t look too bad. The creeping phloxes are still blooming their hearts out; the Bloomerang lilac sports its fragrant blossoms next to the deck; and the overall effect is one of a lush, green landscape. But look a little closer, and you can see the damage.

I expected some injury to plants. With several thousand different perennials, trees and shrubs in my half-acre yard, I simply couldn’t protect them all. With the exception of tender annuals and tropicals that I covered with floating row covers, moved into the garage or crowded onto the front porch and deck, everything else had to fend for itself through the freezing weather. I’m unsure of the exact low temperatures the past three nights. However, a nearby weather station reported 28 degrees F the first night, and it was supposedly a few degrees colder the second night. This morning the yard was covered in white once again.

This is what 'Jane' magnolia looked like a couple of weeks ago.

Some of the plants showing frost damage were predictable. Saucer magnolias often get nipped by late frosts here in the Midwest. True to form, ‘Jane’ magnolia was injured in this freeze cycle. But because she was already done blooming, it was her leaves that turned brown and limp rather than her gorgeous pink blooms. Leaves of butterfly bushes and caryopteris often curl with the first frost of fall; they did so this spring too.

Other injured plants were more surprising. Chrysanthemums withstand fall frosts with ease, blooming through early autumn cold snaps. But their tender new shoots in spring are quite sensitive to the cold. In some instances, damage may be due to microclimates in the yard. My ‘Miss Canada’ Preston lilac was totally trashed (see photo below), while all other lilacs escaped unscathed. Of the dozen or so daylilies in the yard only one showed injury. ‘Strawberry Candy’ developed bleached leaves where frost settled on top of the plant.

This pink flowering deutzia was fully budded with bright green foliage just three days ago.

I'm sure that this 'Miss Canada' lilac won't be blooming this year!

Although the leaves are still green, this ginkgo foliage looks more like wilted lettuce after the freeze.

Kamtschatka sedum shows the effects of microclimate. The green side of the plant was next to some ornamental grass which protected it.

Although the shepherd's crook on these peonies looks bad, they fully recovered, and now are standing fully upright.

I conducted an inventory of damaged plants, dividing them into “severely damaged” and “lightly damaged” categories. Severely damaged plants showed extensive wilting, browning and/or dieback. Lightly damaged plants included those that had a few wilted shoots, nipped leaf tips or slight discoloration. Of course, these are somewhat arbitrary divisions, but I’m including the lists here for you to compare damage in your yard or to help you know which plants are most sensitive, and need protection the next time freezes arrive.

Severely Damaged:
‘Jane’ magnolia – sweetbay magnolia was OK
Blue mist spirea (Caryopteris) – all varieties in the yard
Deutzia – ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ and ‘Pink’, virtually all foliage blackened
‘Miss Canada’ Preston lilac (Syringa) – all other lilacs undamaged
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Butterfly bush (Buddleja) – all varieties
Endless Summer hydrangea – other mopheads also affected; paniculata types except Little Lime unaffected
Astilbe – all varieties
Hardy kiwi (Actinidia)
Chrysanthemum – half a dozen varieties burned back
Kamtschatka sedum (Sedum kamtschaticum) – a dozen other sedum species and varieties mostly unaffected
Japanese anemone – all leaves blackened
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Strawberry – open blossoms blackened; foliage unscathed
Purple flamegrass (Miscanthus purpurascens) – almost all new shoots browned
Russian sage (Perovskia) – all shoots wilted and drooping

Lightly Damaged:
Lemon balm – a few brown leaves
St. Johnswort (Hypericum) – shrubby kinds OK; herbaceous types show some wilting
Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus) – a few damaged leaves
Boxwood (Buxus) – only one variety out of four had wilted stem tips
Weigela – only one variety affected the fist night; several more damaged the second night
Mukdenia – outer leaves browned
Lungwort (Pulmonaria) – some damaged leaves
Calamint (Calamintha) – half of shoots affected
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) – only a few new shoots damaged
Lily (Lilium) – one or two varieties of the dozen in the yard showed watersoaked leaves
Rose (Rosa) – Pink Double Knock Out and Deja Blue had wilted new shoots; more than a dozen other types OK
‘Purple Pygmy’ agastache – half a dozen other agastaches had no damage
Itoh peony – a few bronzed and wilted leaves
Beautyberry (Callicarpa) – a few new shoot nipped
Japanese painted fern (Athyrium) – some browned leaves
‘Sarastro’ campanula – half a dozen other campanulas were fine; this one was wilted
Dwarf goatsbeard (Aruncus) – browned foliage
Japanese toad lily (Tricyrtis) – watersoaked foliage
Leadwort (Ceratostigma) – some browned foliage
Lavender (Lavandula) – one variety with wilted tips; half a dozen others OK
‘Rozanne’ geranium – a few wilted stems
‘Strawberry Candy’ daylily (Hemerocallis) – bleached foliage
Winterberry holly (Ilex) – new growth browned; also some damage to blue holly
Chinese cabbage – some bleached leaves; they had been transplanted outdoors just a week earlier


While trimming back frosted foliage this past weekend, I noticed quite a few annuals and perennials that had survived the fall freezes. I had to admire their tenacity! Here are a dozen flowers that were still attractive in my yard earlier this week. I’ll soon see whether they bounce back after the 4 inches of snow that covered the garden last night!

'Walker's Low' catmint

'James Galway' rose

Verbena canadensis

Snow Princess sweet alyssumTwinny Peach snapdragon

Scabiosa 'Vivid Violet'

Salvia plumosa

'Pomegranate' yarrow

'Glamour Red' flowering kale

Chrysanthemum 'Cool Igloo'

Viola 'Endurio Sky Blue'


Lamium 'Anne Greenaway'

Anyone who has visited Lurie Gardens at Millenium Park in Chicago has a connection to Northwind Perennial Farm. Roy Diblik, one of the business partners in Northwind, supplied the plants for Lurie Gardens. Roy also designed and planted the landscape at Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, WI, just a few miles away from the nursery.

It’s certainly worth detouring off the main highway to visit Northwind Perennial Farm. On a recent press trip to the area as a guest of Lake Geneva and the Walworth County Visitors Bureau, I managed to sneak away from planned events for a quick visit to the nursery. And although I arrived just at closing time, Colleen Garrigan, who runs the garden shop, welcomed me and graciously allowed me to stroll the grounds at my leisure. The garden center season was winding down, but I was able to see much of the handiwork of Steve Coster, landscape designer, and the third partner in this outstanding operation, as well as the artistic flair Colleen brings to displays, expertly combining plants and garden ornaments.

The trio of owners draws on the heritage of the farm and area, specializing in native perennials, local materials, and country cottage garden accessories. Next time you’re in southeast Wisconsin or northeast Illinois, see for yourself what Northwind Perennial Farm is all about. Here are a few photos that I took to whet your appetite.

It appears that everyone is headed to Northwind Perennial Farm, including this bantam rooster leading a parade of statuary chickens!

An open barn door frames a fall floral arrangement displayed on a grand piano.

A white picket fence draped with black-eyed Susan vine defines the border of the cottage garden display garden.

Vintage finds are displayed on the wall of a shed.

Miscanthus and persicaria bring color and texture to the display garden in autumn.

Leaf imprints in concrete birdbaths are permanent. The fallen leaves are temporary.

I love how this pyramid of field stone echoes the shape of the baldcypress and spruce trees behind it.

Today is the day for the garden tour at La Ventose (the name of our home and garden), appropriately enough on Bastille Day. Last week I posted photos of the backyard. This week it’s the front yard.

The only shade garden we have is on the north side of the garage where hostas and astilbes thrive.

The hot, dry south-facing slope along the driveway is filled with Midwest native prairie plants and xeric Southwest perennials.

Hot colors from coleus, Flower Carpet Scarlet roses, potentillas, rudbeckias, daylilies, and California fuchsia fill the bed surrounding the mailbox.

The parking strip is filled with pink and purple annuals (petunia, gomphrena, vinca, and nicotiana) punctuated by daylilies, sweet flag, penstemon, and tradescantia.

New last year, this corner border uses a red maple as a focal point and backdrop for a garden bench.

This rock wall terrace faces southwest, so it contains drought-tolerant perennials.

The small waterfall into the front pond creates soothing sound when you rest on the front porch.

The entry garden disguises the walkway to the front door.

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