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This is a compilation of features written over the summer of 2001 and covers four seasons of interest including winter!
Many gardeners focus on spring, summer and fall leaving the landscape virtually bare and lifeless during the winter months. Which is why buried herin are some very interesting selctions for both sun and shade gardeners to have some life to enjoy in the garden while so many others are sleeping :) There are litterally thousands of choices for four seasons of interest above and beyond those mentioned here, but even the beginner by choosing but a few peices from this selection will yeild a beautiful garden for all four seasons :)
The selections are listed in the order that they were originally featured....
Veronica "goodness grows"------------
This is an all summer flowering beauty that grows to about 15" in height and will spread out about the same distance. It's flowers are thin azure blue spikes about 1/2" in diameter and range from about 4-6" long borne just slightly above blue gray foliage. As with most veronicas it prefers sun but will do fine with morning light or bright shade. It is also a nectar source for butterflies of many species :) It is hardy to zone 4 making it a relaible choice for our zone 5-6 conditions. Veronicas are also fairly tolerant of most soils but I've found they perform best in a good ammended garden soil that drains well. This is a good rule of thumb with blue gray foliage perennials and can be acheived even in soppy areas by mounding up the soil above the surrounding area giving the plants' root a place to breath :)
Hemerocallis "stella d' oro"-----------------
Translated the species name is "star of gold" and
what a shining star in the landscape she is! Reliable, tough and
as pretty as can be throughout the entire growing season. The
foliage grows to about 15-20" depending on location (taller
in shade, shorter in full sun) and is the typical daylilly grasslike
spikes of deep green in fertile soil and somewhat yellower in
She will, as with just about any daylilly I've found do well even in our hard clay soil, but will absolutely thrive in good amended garden soil.
The flowers are trumpet shaped golden yellow about 3 1/2" in diameter and appear continuously from May until frost. It makes a wonderful companion plant to the azure blue of the "goodness grows" Veronica and other long term bloomers like Russian sage :)
Asiatic lillies (Lillium x hybrida)------------
This group of hybrid lilies blooms in the garden starting in late May/Early June for the earlies and finishes up sometime in Early-Mid August with the late flowering variteies. They come in a multitude of bright "candy" colors. The familiar Easter lily and Tiger lily are amoung this group of hybrids.
Two exceptional varieties within this group are "Casa blanca" which has large white trumpet shaped flowers that are VERY fragrant borne atop 3-4' shafts with waxy green leaves. This variety makes a great addition to "moonlight" gardens where you spend time after dark. The delightful fragrance is also a nice addition for daytime enjoyment.
Stargazer also has rather large (5-6" diamter) trupet shaped flowers common to asiatic hybrids with a beautiful pink center dotted with darker spots fading out to a light pink or white petal edge. Truly spectacular!
There are a multitude of other colors ranging from bright yellows
through oranges to reds, and of course the aformentioned pinks
Blue is the only color I've not seen amoung them :)
They are easy plants to grow in direct sun and I have seen them perform well in areas as dark as "bright" shade. Bright shade is a term I user to describe areas that are not in direct sun but have a lot of sun nearby that is reflected back into these areas of the landscape.
They are fairly tolerant of soil as well and I have seen them survive and even multiply in unammended soils and absolutley thrive in good well ammended garden soil! They do like to have good drainage and I reccomend mounding the soil in swampy areas when plating these exotic flowered beuaties :)
The plants originate from a bulb that resmbles an artichoke
and will multiply by doubling or tripling each succesive year
until a mature clump is established. They can be divided by digging
them up and simply splitting off the bulbs from the clump.
Spring or fall are the best times for division but as with most perennials they can be successfully dived by a savvy gardener anytime throughout the growing season :)
They come in a range of heights also. Ranging from smaller varieties that only grow to about 12" to dramtic showoffs that can reach 7'!
They are tough and reliable and you will most certainly enjoy them, especially if you like bright colors! :)
Russian Sage (Perovskia Atriplicifolia)---------
I could never pronounce the species of the latin name until one day I discovered that it mates well and has the same meter as "supercalifragilistic" from Disney's Mary Poppins :) hehe... Whenever I her that song now I want to sing it as Supercalifragilistic atriplicifolia! yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a big goof, but ya gotta have fun with this stuff right? :)
This is an awesome plant with silvery blue fine textured foliage raeching about 4' in overall height and when it pops into bloom with it's blue 8- 10" long by 1/2" wide flower spikes in mid-june to early july it doesn't quit unitl frost shuts it down sometime in November!
As with other blue gray foliage perennials it does want to have good drainage and will yellow out if kept too wet but other than that this camper will grow just about anywhere. It prfers full sun but can be planted in somewhat shadier areas. If the shade is too dark it will grow but won't bloom.
It makes a nice companion plant with Stella d' oro daylillies as well as Echinacea (purple coneflower) or Loosestrife (Lythrum sp.) or any other other pinks, yellows or other colors that pair well with blue :) I have an established plant on the "killer" test mound out front paired with grandiflora coreopsis and Shata daisies.
It is what us aggies call "stoloniferous" which simply means it spreads from the roots. It is not so aggressive however, that it cannot be kept within bounds. If a piece pops up where you don't want it just yank it out and it will get the message. Like a cat it may decide to try again but just give it a yank and it will behave, at least for awhile :) Typical cat, er.. plant huh? :)
Once again as with previous features this is a good "no brainer" for low maintainance reliable color in the landscape!
This genus contains several species.
The most familiar is perhaps fulgida which is most commonly seen as the "black eyed susan" that blooms in August and early september in spreading clusters yellow daisies with black centers about 3' tall.
This species is a true perennial and returns from the root system forming a larger clump each successive year. Occasionaly in some locations it may get a a bit "floppy". This is easily overcome by placing a small tomato cage over the plant as it braeks ground in the spring. The plant will fill the cage to the point where the wire isn't seen and give the plant a needed lift to keep it upright and showy :) This trick is also good for tall shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) and purple coneflower (Echinacea). Even though this genus prefers sun I have successfully grown it in as little as 2 hours of mid morning light. I know it's tough and hardy if it survives in my severely neglected "kitchen" garden!
The next species within the genus most often seen is hirta.
This species of the genus Rudbeckia tends to be more of a self
sowing biennial and includes varieties like Indian summer and
Irish eyes. The former having very large and showy flowers. I've
heard reports of flowers up to 9" in diamter! The stand just
inside the south gate of Spring grove cemetary is currently showing
6" flowers and the growing season is really just starting
:) The strong point with this species is that they bloom beginning
in late may and go clear though summer into fall yeilding month
after month of pure show!
The latter (irish eyes) has unique green centers surrounded by the familiar yellow petals of the genus. It makes a nice accent where something just a little out of the ordinary is desired :) Both of these varieties will do fine in full sun to part shade.
There is also an unusual species in this genus which is a prairie native to this continent. This is the species R. Maxima. It, like fulgida, is a true perennial and once installed look out! Not because it is invasive but rather for it's size and dramatic effect :) This species has large rounded silvery gray leaves forming a mound of about 4' in diamter. From this mound of large leaves it sends forth flower spikes reaching to 6-8' tall on top of which are formed black cones aproximately 3" high by 2" wide or larger. From thses cones droop the yellow petals common to Rudbeckias. Being a native it will grow in our native soils but I have seen this plant reach monstrous proportions in ammened soil :) It attracts butterflies and makes a nice cut flower also :)
Monarda didyma------a.k.a. Bee balm---------
I always chuckle at the species name of this plant. It reminds me of all the "didyamas" I used to ask Mom when I was a younger kid than I am now :) Didja get my luck charms from the store ma? didyma??? Didja get my jeans washed ma?? didyma??? hehe...
Monardas are very easy to grow and provide great mid-late summer color in the garden. The most common color is red but there are good purply lavenders, pinks and whites also.
A "must have" for the butterfly gardener the reds are also known to attract hummingbirds.
This plant grows to about 3' in height and will spread from the roots. In rich fertile amended soil it can spread quite rapidly making it a good choice for areas of the garden with poor soil. It likes full sun but will do fine in morning sun.
A nice 4th of july bed can be had by planting some of each color together. Prairie night for the blue, gardenview scarlet for the red and snow white for the white.. Now what I wanna know is where are the seven dwarfs??? :)
If you like "no brainers" Monardas are a good pick :) They are susceptible to powdery mildew in wet weather. If this happens a quick spray with a broad spectrum fungicide cleans them right up :)
Speaking of dwarfs though.....
Ajuga Reptans----- a.k.a. Bugleweed--------
I keep wanting to call this one "beagleweed" probably 'cause I have a beagle who you've probably heard if you've spent much time poking around the range :) She's taught me to howl.. hehe...
Back to Ajuga (ahhooogaaa? like the old car horns?)
If a garden were a rock band this little crawler would be the keyboard player.. At least the way I played it anyways :) It weaves it's way around the garden filling in the gaps in the song :)
Growing nearly flat on the ground it comes in more than several varieties.. dozens, actually... but basicly just 3 basic colors the most common of which is a purple foliaged type.. We currently have a variety called purple brocade in stock..
The next is a tri-color model with intersting pink, cream and green foliage.. The only variety I've seen with this foliage is called burgundy glow which is kind of misleading given it's distictive tri-color foliage :)
The third foliage type is a staright green and white variegated type. In this type we currently have a variety called silver queen..
Ajugas are most commonly used as ground covers for shady areas. They are also great for filling in those "gaps" in rock gardens, pathways, piled stone walls or other similar areas.
I haven't tried burgundy glow or silver queen in bright sun but I have seen the purples in brighter areas of the ladscape and they seemed quite happy although the foliage was squatter and smaller than the same variety would be in more shade.
They are easiest to get going in good amended garden soil but I have seen them grow even in harder clay soils.
They also produce a mass of blue flower spikes about 4" tall by 2"wide in late April/Early May making a wonderful accent to other plantings blooming at the same time or adding some color to beds that are "between" seasons at that time in the landscape.
In some locations they will even retain foliage over winter adding some interest in that season as well :)
We produce a selection of Junipers that range from the crawling J. horizontalis cultivars through the shrubby chinensis varieties to the dramatic tall conical and columnar Juniperus scopularum selections. Shades of color range from green to blue and even some interesting variations with gold tips or variegated foliage.
These evergreen beauties prefer sun but some of the varieties such as Parson will tolerate shade. They are easy to grow and are fairly tolerant of our crummy clay soils. But as with most plants performance is increased with some organic ammendments to help the root systems become established :)
Hardiness questions can be answered with a word, VERY! Most varieties withstanding at least 20 below and some laughing in the face of tempertures of -40 degrees :)
No matter what your sun, space or taste theres alomost surely one of these varieties that will give your garden a breath of life in the dead of winter not to mention the wamermonths of the growing season!
Another interesting plant for winter interest is....
This perennial is what I often refer to as a "sleeper". Often overlooked and underused the large succulent rounded leaves turn from green during the growing season to purplish in winter.
It grows virtually anywhere from sun to shade and produces flower stalks with clusters of blooms in shades of pink or red.
The ones I had on the mound garden out front grew to about 20" tall and wide in good soil over the course of two years. These were in full exposure right along the roadside of our busy street. I saw similar performace in a shady spot in a quiet suburb in Ft. Thomas.
It's sheer durablity, spring flowers and pest and disease resitance combined with evergreen foliage make it in my opinion a "must have" for the "no brainer" garden :)
Persicaria affine "dimity"--- a.k.a Himalayan fleeceflower.
This great little groundcovering perennial is also one of those "sleepers".
It has a nice dense foliage and pink flower spikes from mid to late summer that are about 1/2" in diameter and about 4" long.
This plant will also tolerate moisture and is a good choice for areas that tend to be a bit swampy during rainy seasons.
It would make a good edger for ponds and streams is is also well suited to rock gardens...
hmmm... sounds like what I was up to after work last night when I pulled out my guitar and was rockin' in the garden! hehe...
One night last week I actaully had about 5 cats sitting in row listening to me :) I didn't didn't hear any "cat calls" so I guess I sounded ok :)
Back to Persicaria :)
This plant is a native to the himalyas and is quite hardy here and natuarlizes well.
The stock we have is located in the rear nursery and you can't miss the pretty pink flower spikes atop the fat and bushy green foliage :)
Check it out, I think it'll be a joy both to you and also to your vistors and guests :)
Talk about "no brainers"!
These familiar white daisies with yellow centers have a new twist to thme in the form of a variety called summer snowball.
Summer snowball is the first truly double shasta I've seen. It lives up to it's name with the flowers that really do resemble 3-4" diameter snowballs!
There are also two shorter varieties snowcap and silver princess that only grow to about 12-15" tall for spots where a more compact plant is desired.
The cool thing with shastas is that if they ever get a little ratty looking a quick snip with the shears down to about 6-8" above ground level brings them back thicker and fuller and within a couple of weeks new flowers throughout the growing season!
If allowed to set seed they will also self sow foriming masses of pretty daisies over the course of several seasons.
A good choice for those who also like to take cut flowers inside with them :) especially the taller varieties with nice long stems :)
The trick to clematis is "heads in the sun and feet in the shade". The root systems don't like to bake in the hot summer sun but the foliage apprecites the light to make all those wonderful sugars to feed back down the vines to the roots. They can be effectively used to clibm up some form of support whether it be chain link, porch or deck railings, wire supports on any vertical surface including brickwork and of course, arbors, trellises or other vertical accents. The vines do not have aggressive root nodes so they do need some support to climb but this also makes them very "mortar friendly" since they won't dig into your foundation :)
I have even seen them used with a tomato cage giving the effect of a big floppy bush. My birthmother Pat, does this quite effectively with one on either end of her porch in a southeaster exposure. She also took the time to add some compost to soil there giving the roots a very happy place to thrive!
They bloom from spring into early summer and the Sweet autumn variety (Clematis paniculata) does just what it's name suggests with masses of small white flowers with a sweet fragrance in august and into september :)
In any given season we have at least a dozen or more good varieties in a range of colors to choose from :)
Tradescantia andersonia "blue stone"------
This hybrid of the Virginia spiderwort has beautiful mid blue flowers about 1 1/2" in diameter atop grassy green foliage. It will grown in full sun but the prettiest ones I've seen are in partial shade or morning sun locations. It blooms from June to September making it a good all summer color choice for the perennial garden. It also tolerates most garden soils including our wonderful (yeah right!) Southern Ohio clay :) It will spread out makiing a nice "filler". Height is about 2-3' depending on location.
Heuchera "palace purple"----------
This wonderful coral bell hybrid has rich purple foliage making
it true royalty in the partial shade garden :) The deep purple
folaige works well as a contrast to blue/gray or golden foliaged
counterparts in the perennial garden. It grows to about 18"
with dainty pinkish flowers borne on spikes about a foot above
the foliage through the mid summer months. I have seen it used
in mixed borders and very effectively combined with Hostas like
Golden bullion or gold tiarra and also as a background for low
grwoing blue junipers :)
The best performace from this plant is in well amended garden soil.
Cardianl flower lives up to it's name with it's true red flowers, not rosey, not orangey but truely red :) It's purple foliage is also an attarctive accent. This plant will get some height to it making it best suited as a mass planting or in the background since it can reach up to 60" when mature in the landscape. It prefers moist soils making it a good choice for swampy areas or water edges or areas of the garden that get hit regularly with sprinkler systems. It also prefers partial shade and unlike mad dogs and englishmen is happiest out of the noonday sun.:)
I have also seen this plant potted in heavy soil and used in shallow water as a pond/bog plant.
If you haven't discovered this beauty yet check it out!
Asclepias incarnata "ice ballet"-----------
This hybrid of the wild swamp milkweed is a truly hardy camper (-40 degrees!) for full to part sun. It is also a superb addition to the butterfly garden!
It grows to about 3' tall and produces tufted pure white flowers in early to mid summer and has long staright stiff stems making it a great addition to the cutting garden as well.
One of the most outstanding features of this plant is it's ability to perform where others won't. It tolerates nearly all soils from soppy to dry as a bone :)
If you have one of problem spots this plant could be a solutions for you and bring beautifull butterflies to your garden at the same time :)
Since I already did quite a dissertation during the herbs series I'll focus on growing it here :) If you missed the full write up on lavender it's on the site at www.funkes.com in the herbs section :)
Many moons ago an avid gardener of 40+ years experience and regular customer of my Dad's told me that blue gray foliage perennials don't like wet feet. This is particularly true of Lavender. It is best grown in a raised bed or simple mound of dirt where excess moisture can drain away from the roots. Hidcote and the more common munstead varieties have blue flowers for a large portion of the summer. The less common Jean Davis has pale pink fragrant flowers during the same period. It likes full sun but will do with morning sun or bright "dappled" light provided the drainage and soil are good. It will grow 24" to 36" depending on variety and sunlight.It's many uses and beautiful summer flower spikes make Lavender a wonderful addition to any herb garden or perennial border!
Lamb's ear (Stachys sp.)..............
This creepy crawly ground cover is a tough camper indeed and
well suited to our crummy clay soils.
The soft furry leaves are the trademark of this plant giving it the touch and feel of it's common namesake.. It's just simply snugable! hehe...
Perhaps my favorite cultivar of this genus is one called "Helen Von Stein" which has leaves twice the size of other varieties. Lamb's ear will also tolerate heat and drought well and will also grow in partial shade. Being a "blue gray" it does like to have good drainage to perform well but it will tolerate periods of wet provided it gets a chance to dry out.. hmmmmm "blue gray"... does that mean it fought for the North and the South? I wonder (scratching my chin) hehe....
Gaillardia...a.k.a. Blanket Flower...........
Another blue gray and another for those unammended spots due it ability to do well in our crappy clay soil :) A long bloomer as well with brightly colored daisies in shades of orange and yellow and even a solid red called "burgundy". I love those creative names don't you? hehe...
They bloom nearly continuously without "deadheading" throughout the spring and summer into fall. They are relatively short growing maybe about 12-18" for the most part. Their spreading habit also makes them well suited for spilling over rocks, railroad ties or other raised bed edges.
Gaillardias are not quite as finicky about drainage as Lavender but will yellow out and rot if left too wet. They love hot sun but will work in lesser light provided the drainage is good.
Their long bloom time is perhaps one of their best attributes since there are so few all summer blooming perennials hardy in our zone 5/6 location..
Just in case your not familiar with USDA hardiness zones the
U.S ranges from zone 3 at the northernmost to zone 10 at the far
southern reaches. Most of the houseplants we grow here are zone
The lower the number of the zone the colder it gets in the winter :)