Along with their unique attributes, heirloom plants have the power to bring generations together. My grown children learned to make fruit preserves from their great-great-grandmother’s fig bush, and now they each have a “start” of the original tree in their own gardens.
Caring for peonies starts with choosing the right planting spot and making sure soil is exceptionally healthy. Once you take care of that, maintaining healthy plants depends on the basics: watering and fertilizing peonies. Less frequent chores, like deadheading peonies after flowering and cutting back peonies in fall are not demanding tasks but play a key role in keeping this perennial productive.
Trade in traditional green beans for a colorful shade of purple with ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans. These beauties offer a green interior, which makes for a stunning raw salad. Cooked, the purple fades to typical green bean hues.
Pruning causes plants to produce new growth, which is tender and highly vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Wait to prune shrubs, including butterfly bush and caryopteris, until spring, when all danger of frost has passed. At that point you can remove any winter killed branches. In future years, aim to get pruning done by late August, so plants have time to harden off before freezes arrive.
Why we love it: Butterfly bush is a winner in any color with its nectar-rich blooms that bedazzle butterflies. ‘Miss Ruby’ takes the game to a whole new level with her deep pink flowers. Butterfly bush is low maintenance and easy growing. In regions with freezing winters, prune in spring, cutting back to 6 to 12 inches tall.
Design Tip: do not be scared of planting English Roses close to the edge of the path or seat where they may spill over. Their proximity makes it all the better for appreciating the beautiful flowers and delicious fragrances. Michael Marriott, technical manager and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses.
If you think you know butterfly bush, think again. ‘Blue Chip Jr.’ has outstanding qualities, including fragrance, continuous blooming without deadheading, non-invasive and drought tolerant. Of course, it also attracts butterflies by the dozens. It grows to a tidy 18 to 30 inches tall and wide—a perfect size for edging a bed or walkway. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Called “summer lilac” in Oregon and Washington, where it is approved for sale.
Japanese beetles love the soft tissue of flower petals, whether it’s butterfly bush, roses or purple coneflower. These eating machines can destroy beautiful blooms, turning pretty petals into raggedy, rotting messes. To get a handle on Japanese beetles, knock individual bugs into soapy water. They lay eggs in moist lawns, so cut back watering from late June to late July, when beetles are mating (check with your local extension office for precise timing for your area). Don’t hang Japanese beetle traps—they’ll only lure more beetles to your yard than you already have. Use caution with systemic pesticides, which you water into soil for roots to absorb and move through an entire plant. If the active ingredient is imidacloprid, this chemical has been implicated in bee colony collapse disorder.
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.
As soon as they step through those double doors, the owners leave the desert behind and enter a gorgeous European garden. With blooming perennials and bushes all along the side of the house, they'll have no problem stopping to smell the roses.