Garden & Landscape Tips

Achillea Little Moonshine
Achillea 'Little Moonshine'
Photo courtesy of Blooms of Bressingham

How was your ornamental garden last year? All that you’d hoped for, or is it due for a gentle update with some of the new plants on the block? There’s nothing wrong with daylilies, daisies, and hostas, but a coral red hot poker (Kniphofia) or the blue spiky heads of sea holly (Eryngium) might be just the thing to stir the curiosity of your neighbors. Give your Eden a boost with some of the new perennials that just hit the nurseries and garden centers.

Achillea ‘Little Moonshine’

Baptisia Decadence 'Lemon Meringue'
Baptisia Decadence 'Lemon Meringue'
Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

For a sunny spot, yarrow is hard to beat. Long-blooming and on strong stems, many of you will be familiar with the horizontal “plates” of flowers in pinks, reds, and yellows, that attract butterflies and other pollinators all summer. ‘Little Moonshine’, bred especially for the smaller gardens that are so prevalent today, is a dwarf selection of much beloved ‘Moonshine’. It is just as water thrifty, deer resistant, and low care, but on a smaller plant. Plant in containers, rock gardens, at the front of sunny borders, or along a pathway. 9”-12”tall; 10”-12” across. USDA Zones 4-8.

Baptisia Decadence ‘Lemon Meringue’

This yellow-blooming cousin of native blue false indigo (Baptisia) has spikes of mouth-watering lemon, pea-shaped flowers on upright, contrasting charcoal stems in early summer. These rise above compact mounds of blue-green foliage that remains handsome through the summer. Black seedpods follow the flowers for more interest in fall. The roots go deep for moisture and do not appreciate being moved. Attractive to butterflies, but resistant to deer. Display them in containers or in beds and borders (maybe with Siberian irises), among shrubs (such as cinquefoils, Potentilla fruticosa), or in foundation plantings among dark evergreens. 30”-36” tall, and as wide. USDA Zone 4-9

Eryngium x zabelli 'Neptune’s Gold'
Eryngium x zabelli 'Neptune’s Gold'
Photo courtesy of Plants Nouveau

Eryngium x zabelli ‘Neptune’s Gold’

Sea holly is not planted as widely as it might be. Its interesting habit and flowerheads in summer are striking and unusual, and it provides great architectural interest to beds and borders. The spiky leaves of ‘Neptune’s Gold’ emerge gold and fade to chartreuse, combining beautifully with steel blue stems and flowerheads that are surrounded by spiny blue and gold bracts. Deer tolerant. Ideal for sunny gardens maybe among black-eyed Susans or speedwells in flower borders, or in containers with hot pink petunias or calibrachoas. 20”-24”tall;10”-12” across. USDA Zones 4-9.

Sedum telephium 'Chocolate Cherry'
Sedum telephium 'Chocolate Cherry'
Photo courtesy of Cultivaris

Sedum telephium ‘Chocolate Cherry’

With the recent trend for perennials that tolerate dry soils, succulent sedums have become more popular than ever. A border type sedum, ‘Chocolate Cherry’ is eye-catching for its glossy, dark grayish-purple foliage and for its clusters of bright purple-red flowers that bloom in full sun in late summer into fall. But these attributes alone do not make it special. Its broadly upright habit is a result of stems that branch from the base, making staking or pinching unnecessary. Grow solo in a container or mix and match with other perennials (perhaps dwarf baby’s breath, Gypsophila, or an ornamental grass) or annuals; in the landscape ‘Chocolate Cherry’ contrasts well with silvery lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) or dusty miller (Cineraria maritima). 14” tall; 18” across. USDA Zone 5-9

Heucherella 'Leapfrog'
Heucherella 'Leapfrog'
Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Heucherella ‘Leapfrog’

Foamy bells is a cross between native coral bells (Heuchera) and foamflower (Tiarella). Striking ‘Leapfrog’ is grown for its interesting and attractive foliage that remains evergreen in mild climates. In spring, the young bright yellow leaves appear to have been splashed in the center with red wine; as the foliage matures it increases in size and becomes green and purple. Bottlebrushes of white flowers rise above the clumps in spring. Superior as a groundcover in shaded or partly shaded spaces; try ferns, hostas, or other shade-lovers as companions. 10”-12” tall: 18”-24”across. USDA Zones 4-9.

Kniphofia uvaria 'Poco Red'
Kniphofia uvaria 'Poco Red'
Photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

Kniphofia uvaria ‘Poco Red’

Red hot pokers are always attention-getters, and dwarf ‘Poco Red’ is no shrinking violet. Its vivid coral-red tube flowers appear in summer into fall, and are held on strong upright stems that rise 20” from clumps of grassy leaves; superior as cut flowers. Hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators flock to the nectar-rich blooms. Perfect for gardens in the Deep South where heat and humidity challenge many plants; low water situations are no problem for established plants. Deer resistant. Group plants among shrubs such as bluebeard (Caryopteris) or combine with Russian sage (Perovskia). 12”-14” tall and wide. USDA Zones 6-9.

Lychnis flos-cuculi 'Petite Jenny'
Lychnis flos-cuculi 'Petite Jenny'
Photo courtesy of Blooms of Bressingham

Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘Petite Jenny’

Commonly known as catchfly or ragged robin for its fluffy, rather informal flowers, this early-bloomer is always welcome with its double, strong lavender pink flowers. Since these are sterile, they are long lasting and make good cut flowers. The blooms rise above low, bushy clumps of foliage. Provide moist soil in a sunny or lightly shaded spot in beds and borders, containers, cottage and rock gardens, or plant as edgings. Deer seldom browse ‘Petite Jenny’ but butterflies and hummingbirds are frequent visitors. Upright speedwells, low iris, creeping phlox, and avens are attractive companions. 14”-16” tall; 18” across. USDA Zones 3-9.

Dicentra spectabilis ‘White Gold’ [now called Lamprocapnos]

Old-fashioned bleeding hearts are among the favorite flowers remembered from Grandma’s spring garden. Usually pink or reddish, the heart-shaped flowers are carried on elegant arching stems above loose clumps of divided leaves. Pink-flowered selections are certainly romantic but white-flowered ones such as ‘White Gold’ really sparkle and pop in lightly shaded places where they grow well. A sister to popular pink-flowered ‘Gold Heart’, it also sports golden foliage. Vigorous and easy-to-grow where soil remains moist; not as prone to summer dormancy as other cultivars. Plant with white-blooming astilbes (eg. Bridal Veil’, ‘Deutschland’) for a later floral display. 20”-24” tall; 36” across. Zone USDA 4-8

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