Plant ‘Compass’ fruits to make into jams and jellies. The small, juicy fruits are a cross between cherries and plums. Hardy in zones 3 to 8, the trees bear in the second year after planting and mature at 3 to 8 feet high.
If you want to skip the evergreen sprigs, craft something that will last year after year with these ombre kissing balls. You'll need: 9x12-inch sheets of felt (in your desired hues); 3 floral foam spheres in different sizes; fabric scissors; hot glue gun; hot glue sticks; twine; marker; furniture tacks or push pins.
Crabapples are usually planted as ornamentals, not edibles, but 'Centennial' bears fruits that are good for eating fresh or turning into sauce. It's also a very cold hardy tree, rated to USDA zone 3. While 'Centennial' bears heavily, and has good disease resistant, the crabapples don't last long in storage, so use them soon after harvesting.
Discover the shrubby side of clematis with this upright version of the classic vine. ‘Stand By Me’ grows to a shrub-like form that doesn’t need a trellis like a traditional vining clematis, although it does benefit from a little support. This clematis features beautiful blue blooms that dangle like bells and open from late spring through midsummer. After flowers fade, they form fuzzy seedheads that are eye-catching and fun. Plants grow 34 to 38 inches tall by 24 to 28 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7. ‘Stand By Me’ clematis belongs to Pruning Group 3.
Bring on the color with Honeybelle honeysuckle. This beauty opens gold blossoms from late spring to fall frost. The first flush of flowers is the strongest, transforming the vine into a golden waterfall. After that, blooms continue to appear well into fall. Honeybelle is not an invasive honeysuckle, although it will form a few red berries. Give it a spot in full sun for best flowering, but it will bloom some in a part shade location. Honeysuckle covers an arch or pergola in one growing season, and flowers beckon hummingbirds and butterflies. Vines grow 10 to 20 feet tall by 3 to 5 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Once the paint has dried (after about 2-3 hours) you can go back over the pattern with your paint pens. Have fun with this part: the paint pens make it super easy to draw patterns and small details in your design. And the best part: if you don’t like a color you used, you can go right over it with another color. So easy!
Cheerful daffodils are classic spring flowers. For a natural look, toss them around your yard or landscape and plant them where they fall. Choose big, healthy bulbs and plant them 6" deep about 2 to 4 weeks before your ground freezes. They need sun to part sun and will come back year after year; they're hardy in USDA zones 3-8. 'Sunshine Boys,' pictured here, is a blend of early-blooming daffodils.
A striking heirloom lilac, ‘Madame Lemoine’ was bred near Nancy, France, by the famous lilac breeder Lemoine. He named this beauty after his wife. Strongly fragrant double white blooms grace this lilac in late spring to early summer. Flower buds are cream and open to pure white. This French hybrid lilac grows 8 to 15 feet tall and up to 15 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-7.
Native penstemon is a go-to perennial for hot and dry spots in full sun, which makes it an ideal choice for meadow plantings. ‘Midnight Masquerade’ penstemon offers deep burgundy-purple leaves that sound a strong color note all season long. In early to midsummer, lavender flower spikes top the dark hued leaves. Penstemon is a hummingbird and bee favorite. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Mulch lightly in winter after the ground freezes to help plants survive.
Aphids appear in great concentrations in early spring, when plants are pushing new growth. These sucking insects love to feast on tender, juicy new growth.
Easy Solution: Knock aphids off plants with a spray of water. Or mix your own spray using 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 1 cup of water. This solution must touch the aphids’ bodies to kill them. Apply every few days as needed. Rinse the solution off plants after a few hours.
When choosing dwarf Alberta spruce for pots, consider miniature varieties, like Tiny Tower (Picea glauca conica ‘MonRon’). This little cutie reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. The slow growth rate means you can keep it tucked into containers for a few years. Tiny Tower has bright green leaves that shift to gray as they mature. It’s hardy in Zones 3 to 8. At Christmas, you’ll often see mini Christmas trees in pots. These are usually dwarf Alberta spruce and can be planted into the landscape after the holiday.
Fall’s classic bloomer is the garden mum. These colorful beauties paint the autumn landscape in nearly any shade imaginable, from pastel tints to bold hues. Garden mums grow best in full sun with well-drained soil and work well in containers or beds. To enjoy the longest show, choose mums with flower buds that are just beginning to crack open. To overwinter plants as perennials in colder zones, get mums into the ground as early as possible in fall. Mulch well after the ground freezes. Plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Fountain grass comes in a variety of sizes, as well as leaf and seedhead colors. It gets its name from the fact that the flowers and seedheads erupt from the arching mound of leaves like water from a fountain. This duet of fountain grass features (left) Prairie Winds ‘Desert Plains’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) and (right) purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’). ‘Desert Plains’ is hardy in Zones 5-9 and grows roughly 4 feet tall and wide. The bottlebrush flowers start dusky purple and fade to tan. Purple fountain grass is an annual in most regions (Hardy in Zones 9-11), growing up to 3 feet tall and wide. Cut it down after frost once leaves turn brown.
Welcome butterflies and a host of other pollinators (including bees) by planting butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Despite the name, this native plant doesn’t behave like a weed, taking over a garden. Plants are slow to emerge in spring, appearing long after other plants. It’s a good idea to mark its spot to avoid disturbing it. Removing spent blooms keeps the flower show going, but stop in early fall to let seeds form. Seed pods make a nice addition to fall wreaths or arrangements. This is a host plant for monarch butterflies, feeding both caterpillars and adult butterflies. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall by 1 to 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Camellias steal the show when they burst into bloom, and Pink Perplexion is no exception. This is a sasanqua camellia, known for its small leaves and ability to grow well in containers and landscape beds. Pink flowers up to 3 inches across cover this beauty in fall. Those pink blooms boast a color that defies description, which is why it’s called Pink Perplexion. Give it a spot in part shade to full sun with acidic soil. Plants grow 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 7-9. Good to know: Sansanqua camellias take well to pruning and shearing. Best timing is after flowering, in spring, before new flower buds form on stems in summer.
If you don’t have room for a 50- to 100-foot tree, check out Hot Wings maple. It’s a type of tartarian maple (Acer tartaricum ‘GarAnn’) discovered and developed in Colorado, which means it tolerates dry, alkaline conditions. Trees open typical small, yellow maple flowers in spring after leaves appear. Flowers fade to form bright red seeds (helicopters) in summer, which contrast brilliantly with the green leaves. Fall color features shades of orange-red and yellow. This is more of a spreading maple that can be grown as a shrub or small tree. Expect trees to grow 20 to 25 feet tall and 18 to 20 feet wide in ideal conditions. At higher elevations, Hot Wings grows 15 to 18 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10.
For summer bloom, turn to native, easy-care shrub sweetspire. Scarlet Beauty sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Morton’) unfurls long white flower clusters mid-June to early July, flooding summer days and nights with luxurious fragrance. Blossoms buzz with pollinator activity, including bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. This is a must-have plant for wildlife gardens. The fall color season unfolds slowly with leaves in shades of vibrant scarlet-reds and deep oranges that hit their peak in early November. Plants thrive in sun to shade, tolerate moist soil and grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good to know: If pruning is needed, do so immediately after flowering, before blossom buds form on mature stems. In early spring, remove any stems that fail to leaf out.