Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra ‘Burning Hearts’ My heart went THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! when I saw this beauty for sale in 2019 at the garden center where I work. I quickly purchased one for my little condo garden. It was stunning the first year but before raving about it, I wanted to see how it would overwinter in Maine. It came through with flying colors. It started blooming in late July and kept pumping out flowers through September, much to my delight as well as to the swarms of bees and butterflies. Songbirds enjoyed the dried seeds late into fall. ‘Burning Hearts’ can grow to 3’-4’. If you want a shorter bushier plant, simply pinch the stems back by 1/3 in mid-June. The foliage and stems have a dark purple cast – more so later in summer. This native is tolerant of poor, dry and clay soils plus it’s deer and rabbit resistant. It also makes a sweet cut flower. It likes full sun and is hardy in Zones 3 – 8. Here it is pictured in my front garden next to a garden vessel by artist Stephen Procter.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Wedding Gown’ It is rare that I rave about bigleaf Hydrangeas (those in the macrophylla species) for gardeners in colder climates, like Zone 5 where I live. Many bigleaf Hydrangeas, including ‘Endless Summer’, can cause more frustration than joy, due to inconsistent blooming. Hydrangea m. ‘Wedding Gown’ (also known as ‘Dancing Snow’) is one tough little gem that covers itself with gorgeous double white flowers from early summer to fall (with deadheading). I have grown mine in a container for three years; my horticulturist friend Cheryl, has had it in her landscape for the same amount of time (she lives farther north in Saco, ME). We both are astonished by this Hydrangea. It only gets 2’-3’ tall and has a lovely mounded habit. The flower color is not affected by soil pH or aluminum. The pristine white blooms only turn color in fall when they take on a rich burgundy hue. One of the other attributes I love about ‘Wedding Gown’ is its almost equal combination of large sterile and small fertile florets. This makes it more beneficial to pollinators seeking nectar. ‘Wedding Gown’ blooms on old and new wood and is hardy in Zones 5-9. It prefers part sun – to part shade (more shade in hotter zones). (Photo taken in September of my container grown ‘Wedding Gown’)