Straw Foxglove

Unlike foxglove that are biennial, straw foxglove (Digitalis lutea) is a true perennial. The light yellow bell-shaped downward-facing flowers are smaller than their biennial relatives, but what is lost in flower size, straw foxglove makes up for in reliability and ease of growth.   Straw foxglove does best in average garden soil in a site…

Spring, Summer, Fall Blooming Perennials

Perennial flowers offer great appeal in the spring, ringing the bell of activity of the gardening season.  The great news is that perennials do not bloom only in spring – they offer ever-changing garden views in all seasons.  If you plan your garden well, it will offer texture, color and movement appeal whenever you look…

Woodland Phlox

Woodland phlox, Phlox divaricata, also known as wild sweet William, is a shade-loving perennial that produces lavender blue five-petalled flowers in spring. It has a wonderfully long bloom season. In my garden, it has been sending out flowers for a solid month now.   Woodland phlox does best under trees in soils rich in humus….

Plant Groundcovers Under Shade Trees

Is the vegetation under your shade tree thin and lifeless?  If so, you may wish to consider planting a groundcover instead of turfgrass.  Periwinkle, English ivy, lamium, pachysandra, some cultivars of coral bells, ajuga, plumbago, euonymous, Virginia creeper and Hall’s honeysuckle are good options to consider.  The bottom line is Right Plant, Right Place, and…

Helen’s Flower

Helen’s flower, Helenium autumnale, is a native perennial of the sunflower family, producing show-stopping 2-inch flowers in colors of yellow, gold, orange, red or variations in between.  The notched petals, surrounding a yellowish brown globular cone, are a nice touch, giving the flowers the appearance of a ruffled skirt. The specific epithet “autumnale” refers to…

Flowering Plants for the August Garden

When it comes to August’s garden, many gardeners, plant enthusiasts and landscapers are willing to skip the month entirely because of the challenge posed by the seemingly few plants that provide interest during August. I’d like to challenge that notion, mainly because August is a perfectly fine month of frost-free weather and why not make…

Double Trouble

Visit any of your favorite garden centers and you will see new introductions of old familiar favorites.  For instance the purple coneflower is no longer purple.  It comes a range of colors from red, yellow, orange, green, and white.  You will even find cultivars where the traditional cone has been modified into flower petals often…

Caterpillars on Coneflowers

The silvery checkerspot caterpillar, Chlosyne nycteis, can be found right now, happily munching away on the leaves of sunflower, aster, Echinacea, goldenrod and Rudbeckia.  The checkerspot caterpillar has branched spines on its back that are black in color. Sometimes the caterpillars will have an orange stripe or two.  Depending on weather conditions, there will be…

Newly Planted Trees, Shrubs, Perennials – Aftercare

You’ve installed some new trees, shrubs and perennials…now what?  In order to keep them looking great, there are a few simple care steps that should follow planting, especially in June.   A thorough soaking of water, followed by moisture monitoring. Nothing special here; use a sprinkler can to place water evenly throughout the entire root…

Going Soft

After cleaning up the damage to my plants from the hail storm on May 28th I didn’t cut back the damaged flower spikes to my German iris.  Not sure why I didn’t.  Probably because the flower stalks had injury but they didn’t seem to need immediate care. However, making that deceisoin I probably did more…