|Bleeding Heart||Zinnias||Red Twig Dogwoods|
For a low-growing plant with incredible foliage, it’s hard to beat heuchera. When you add pretty, delicate blooms and the fact that most heucheras are evergreen, what you end up with is a “must-have” plant.
There are nearly 300 known varieties of heuchera (a North American native), also called “coral bells” or “alum root.” In general, heucheras grow to about eighteen inches tall (not counting the flower spikes) and around eighteen inches wide. Their blooms grow on spikes of delicate “bells” in shades of red, pink, white, and purple, generally blooming for four to eight weeks in late spring through early summer. [continue]
If you have a hot, dry area of your yard (don’t we all?) consider Russian Sage. It is a gorgeous, ethereal plant with silvery green, lacy foliage that is topped with spikes of lavender blue flowers from July until frost. Russian Sage grows up to four feet tall and three feet wide, though some varieties are more compact. This is one of those plants in my garden that I pretty much ignore, other than admiring it.
Hardiness: Russian Sage is a perennial that is hardy to zone 3. [continue]
Cosmos are quintessential cottage garden flowers. Their airy, delicate forms work well just about anywhere, whether it is a container, small annual bed or a large mixed border. And no matter what your color preference is, there is a cosmos out there for you. In addition, adding cosmos will almost guarantee that your garden will be visited by butterflies. While there are over twenty known species of cosmos, [continue]
If you have any area of your property that is anywhere from lightly to mostly shaded, and you are dying to plant something other than hostas there, consider bleeding hearts. Bleeding hearts bloom in white, pink, or red, and their blooms look like heart-shaped lockets strung along its graceful, arching branches. Even the foliage is pretty, being dark green and deeply lobed. The plants themselves reach about three feet tall and wide at their largest. Bleeding hearts typically bloom in late spring or early summer, but under the right conditions, yours may bloom sporadically until frost. [continue]
Zinnias are one of those annuals that offer something for everyone. If you love bright colors, or large flowers, or tall plants, there’s a zinnia for you. If you are a pastel person, like simpler flowers, and want something small for a container, there’s a zinnia out there with your name on it, too.
Zinnias come in almost every color of the rainbow, including everything from pure white to brown and bright green. There are three general forms to the zinnia blossoms themselves: single, double, and cactus flowered. [continue]
If the only reason you plant a Red Twig Dogwood is for the bright red branches in the middle of winter, it would be reason enough. And, even though that is what most people think of when they think of Red Twigs, it is only the beginning for a shrub that guarantees four seasons of interest in your landscape.
In the spring, the Red Twig Dogwood produces clusters of white blooms that have a light fragrance. During the summer, the dogwood has very pretty, medium green leaves that provide a nice backdrop for annuals and perennials. [continue]
Purple Coneflowers symbolize Michiganders better than any flower I can think of. They stand tall in everything from the muggy heat of July to the frosty cool of October mornings. They grow with their roots in clay soil almost as well as they grow in fertile loam. And through it all, they look good!
Purple Coneflower prefers full sun, but it will tolerate light shade. It doesn’t need to be fertilized, and established plants need no supplemental watering. If you have an area of your yard that you can’t easily get to, but would still like to look attractive, plant coneflowers there. In time, they will develop into nice sized clumps of pinkish purple blooms. [continue]
I’ll admit up front that the lilac is my favorite shrub. It has been since I was a kid, and my grandma had a huge lilac hedge along her alley fence.
The lilac can grow up to twenty feet tall, and blooms in lilac, dark purple, pink, or white. It has dark green heart-shaped foliage, and grows from shoots that come up from the base of the plant. Lilacs prefer full sun, and they do best when planted in an area where they will get decent air circulation. Without good air circulation, lilacs are prone to powdery mildew. They bloom in late spring and early summer. [continue]
The forsythia is perhaps the most recognizable shrub when it is in full bloom. Those masses of yellow flowers when almost nothing else is in bloom are the first real sign of spring. After the flush of yellow blooms, the leaves appear. They are a very nice shade of dark green, and offer a calm backdrop to any perennials or annuals that will bloom later in the season. Forsythia is best used in a mass planting in a corner of your yard, or as a long, informal hedge. The worst thing to do to forsythia is to try to shear it into a formal shape. Shaping it into cubes or spheres not only undermines the beautiful natural arching habit of the forsythia, but will also make it so the plant will only bloom on the very tips of its branches. If you have a formal garden, this may not be the shrub for you. But if you have a more informal, naturalistic landscape, the forsythia can’t be beat.
Forsythia can get anywhere from six to nine feet tall, and equally as wide. It is very low maintenance, thriving in nearly any soil as long as it isn’t waterlogged. [continue]
If you want a plant that you cannot kill, no matter how bad the conditions; no matter how much you neglect it; daylilies are for you. And they are not just those orange, tall ones you see growing everywhere. (Although, I happen to love those. Just about everyone in my family grew them, and now I do, too.) Daylilies come in a huge variety of heights and colors. You can get shorter, compact varieties (such as Stella d’Oros, which only get 12″ tall) and great big plants (such as those big old Orange Daylilies.) Daylilies also come in every color except blue and pure white. If you plant a few different cultivars, you will have cheerful blooms all summer long. Certain popular varieties, such as the ‘Stella d’Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns’ are re-bloomers, and will bloom on and off throughout the summer.
To plant daylilies, just dig the hole deep enough so that the crown of the plant is no more than one inch below the soil’s surface. Adding compost or manure to the soil will give you better growth and flower production, but it isn’t necessary. Water it in well, and keep watering until it is established. [continue]