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Coneflower Crazy

Thu, 07/29/2021 - 7:47pm

Coneflowers (Echinacea) are the stars of the summer garden.  It is almost impossible to take your eyes off of the masses of colorful flowers that stand in a long-lasting display. Their colorful petals are arranged around beautiful cones that show in orange, bronze, yellow, and green. Flowers come in an array of colors from purples, pinks, oranges, reds, yellows, and white. There are even green flowering varieties! 

Aside from being gorgeous, these plants are tough, withstanding both cold winters and hot summers. Coneflowers perform best in fertile soil but are adaptable to dry, lean sites and tolerant of clay as long as it’s not constantly soggy. They’re low-maintenance once established, drought-tolerant, and reliable. Though they can be short-lived, they are happy to self-seed and easy to count on for years to come. 

Gardeners aren’t the only ones that love Echinacea! A host of pollinators are crazy about them too. Butterflies and bees are easy to find if coneflowers are nearby, so they’re a must-have plant for pollinator gardens. As the cones dry later in the season, birds feast upon their many seeds, so be sure to wait until late spring to cut coneflowers back so that birds can enjoy them.

Coneflowers We Love

White Swan A beautiful variety with white flowers and large orange/bronze cones. The medium sized plants bear many white, honey-scented flowers. Worth it for the fragrance alone!

White Swan Coneflower

Purple The purple coneflower is a classic. Tall, vigorous plants are covered in light purple to pinkish flowers. Show-stopping planted in masses and at the back of the garden where they create an amazing backdrop for other midsummer bloomers.

Bee on Coneflower

Anything Bright There are so many bright colors to choose from, whether it be oranges, pinks, reds, or yellows that we hesitate to pick a favorite. Many varieties come with a more compact habit, so it’s easy to find a spot for them! 

 

 

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Fantastic Foliage

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 8:45pm

Under colorful blankets of blooms and tall inflorescenses, our plants’ foliage can remain overlooked. This isn’t entirely fair. Afterall, foliage faithfully absorbs light, makes food, breathes, and releases excess water for our plants. It is, in a word, essential.

Lucky for gardeners, foliage isn’t only utilitarian, but also often beautiful. Why not celebrate leaves, these heroes of photosynthesis and landscape interest, with a feature on some fantastic foliage? 

Leaves We Love

Heuchera, commonly called coral bells, are known for their colorful leaves. Varieties come in pinks, purples, reds, bronze, chartreuse, and greens- and that is just the short list of color choices. Want more? How about spots, splotches, streaks, and squiggles? Branch out and try Tiarella (aka foam flower) for even more exciting patterns and colors. And don’t forget Heucherella, a cross between coral bells and foam flowers. Great for shade with certain varieties tolerating more sun.

Timeless Night Heuchera

Tiger Eyes Sumac is nothing but striking. Deeply cut, chartreuse leaflets almost drip from the upright branches. The feathery foliage and architectural form create an elegant look in the garden and make a superb focal point. The fuzzy reddish stems add even more interest, and the vivid orange and red fall color is stunning. Less aggressive than its parent, staghorn sumac, Tiger Eyes is a beautiful addition to gardens in need of some fantastic foliage.

Tiger Eyes Sumac

Ninebark has nice flowers, but it also has incredible leaves. In fact, the foliage and exfoliating bark of this shrub are the real showstoppers. Leaf colors vary from bright green to burnt orange to nearly black. The naturally open form is best left to its own devices, with minimal pruning needed only every few years to remove dead or damaged stems and improve air circulation. For best vigor, leaf color, and flowering, plant ninebark in full sun.

Amber Jubilee Ninebark

 

 

 

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Beautiful Black-Eyed Susans

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 6:00pm

The beauty of Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) is hard to overstate. Reliable and quick to establish, these beautiful perennials attract birds, butterflies, and bees. The bright golden yellow flowers have black or brown centers and make a bold color statement in the garden from midsummer to fall.

Black-Eyed Susans are versatile when it comes to placement because they are just as useful in pollinator gardens and wildflower plantings as they are in formal landscapes. They tolerate some shade too, so they’re great for transitions between sunny and shady plantings. What’s more, Rudbeckia makes an excellent cut flower.

Black-Eyed Susans We Love

American Gold Rush is an improvement on classic Rudbeckia. The foliage boasts improved disease resistance and narrower leaves that stay clean throughout the season. The pale green leaves are slightly fuzzy and make a lovely backdrop for the riotous flower show from midsummer to fall. Their bright yellow flowers look stunning with purples, reds, oranges, and whites. 

Little Goldstar is a more compact variety of the classic Black-Eyed Susan. A blanket of cheerful yellow flowers tops dark green foliage from midsummer to fall. The smaller size makes it great for tighter spaces that need a pop of yellow. Try Little Goldstar with Liatris, Echinacea, and Asters for a beautiful show.

Prairie Glow features bright red-orange flowers with yellow margins above a basal rosette of three lobed foliage. The small flowers dot the landscape with cheery color and they look great with grasses, purple coneflowers, sneezeweed, and other prairie plants. Prairie Glow is easy to grow and great for naturalizing!

 

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Drought Tolerant Plants

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 6:00pm

This year’s dry weather and oppressive heatwave have had many of us scrambling to keep up with watering.  Moisture loving plants pout, crisp, and languish in the relentless dry heat. Luckily, there are many plants that can withstand dry periods after they’re established. Read on for our list of drought tolerant plants that ease the watering burden.

Drought Tolerant Shrubs

Barberry This shrub is tough. Hot, dry spells don’t phase barberry one bit. They are tolerant of some shade, but planting barberries in full, direct sun encourages more vibrant color. The barbs add deer and rabbit resistance, too!

Spirea There is a reason Spirea is planted in parking lots far and wide. It is tough and floriferous even in less than ideal conditions and has good drought tolerant once established. Varieties range from large and arching to more compact and colorful. 

Aronia An excellent shrub for problem sites and dry spells. Aronia features spring flowers, summer berries, and excellent fall color. Low growing varieties make great ground cover and taller types make a reliable hedge. Flexible sun requirements but better flowering, fruiting, and color in full sun.

Drought Tolerant Trees

Hackberry You saw this tree on our list of plants for wet soil, and here it is again. Hackberries are incredibly tough. This is a tree that will stand up to whatever nature throws its way, be it drought, heat, or storms. 

Honeylocust A beautiful and drought tolerant tree. Bright green spring growth puts on a spectacular show and thousands of airy leaflets create a marvelous dappled effect as the sun shines through them. Several thornless varieties are available.

Ginkgo These ancient trees have interesting leaves that command attention. Once established, they tolerate dry sites and their disease and pest resistance makes them even better. Plant male selections to avoid the stinky fruit that gives ginkgos a bad reputation. 

Drought Tolerant Perennials

Sedum This darling of xeriscaping is a perfect choice for dry areas and drought periods. Sedum’s fleshy leaves act as water storage units, making it one of the finest drought tolerant plants. Many upright and low-growing varieties are available, so finding a place for sedum is easy.

Russian Sage Russian sage’s preference for dry soil, benefit to pollinators, and minimal care needs make it a perfect choice. Silvery, deeply cut foliage is topped with spikes of lavender flowers throughout summer. 

Heliopsis This perennial prefers poor, dry soil. Tough sites keep Heliopsis standing tall and proud, while rich, moist soil can lead to flopping. Bright yellow or orange flowers stand atop handsome green or dark green to bronze leaves. 

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