Finding striking, no-fuss annuals for shady gardens and containers can be challenging, especially if you are seeking something other than common impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). Since most of my gardens are in part shade or shade, I’m always on the lookout for striking annuals to extend the floral display through fall. A few of my favorite…

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After a long cold winter, gardeners are starved for color in the garden. Spring blooming Phlox is one of the first perennials to greet us with colorful flowers. When I mention spring blooming Phlox, most people think of Phlox subulata, commonly called Creeping Phlox. But there are other fantastic Phlox that are just as effective…

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Salix candida ‘Iceberg Alley’ This striking native shrub, commonly called Sageleaf Willow, has powdery, silver leaves that make it a wonderful companion plant. Silver partners so well with many colors! Can’t you just picture this ‘silver fox’ alongside threadleaf Sambucus ‘Black Lace’, or underplanted with Heuchera ‘Black Pearl’ or Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon p. ‘Nigrescens’)?…

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A recent gardening article reminded me of two enchanting reseeding annuals that I’ve admired in friend’s gardens and INTENDED to add to mine. I was fascinated when I first saw Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata, Pictured above. Photo compliments of Select Seeds) at my friend, Gail’s garden in Albany, NY. The soft green leaves surrounded by wide…

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Gaultheria procumbens, commonly known as Wintergreen or Eastern Tea, was a fast seller at Estabrook’s – and I’m talking about a December sellout! This North American Northeastern native has lovely evergreen foliage, sweet nodding, waxy white flowers in spring, and rich red fall berries that persist through winter (unless they are devoured by pheasant, grouse…

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Vernonia.  Commonly called Ironweed, this genus includes about 1,000 species of perennials, shrubs and trees native to North America. The plant supposedly gets its common name from the fact that it has tough, erect stems and rusty looking seed clusters as flowers age. Most species can tolerate clay soil. In this feature I will zoom…

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Astilbes are the drama queens of the shade garden.  You cannot help but admire these ‘no-fuss’ divas for their beauty and grace. Flowers can be delicate and frothy or stiff and compact.  Blooms range in color from red, burgundy, white, purple, rosy-purple, peach and various shades of pink. The handsome, fern-like foliage is a delightful…

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Not all Hydrangeas are created equal.  In beauty, yes; but in ease of care, not so much.  Smooth Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are a no-brainer.  Smooth Hydrangea is native to the eastern United States.  The shrub flowers on new wood. Translation: it doesn’t matter how windy and cold the winter; flower buds form in spring after Old Man Winter’s…

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The fragrance of Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), like some Oriental and Orienpet lilies, can either cause you to swoon or gag. Some find the fragrance intoxicating – others find it overpowering. Hyacinth is one of the longest-lived spring blooming bulbs.  They come in all colors from white, cream, pink, deep purple, lavender, apricot, cobalt blue and…

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Sedum mexicanum ‘Lemon Coral’   This is one dazzling workhorse of an annual – although it is a perennial for those of you in Zone 7 or warmer. The screaming yellow foliage never stops drawing attention. It is a terrific filler or spiller for containers, although I use it more as a weed-smothering mat around perennials…

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