This formal garden with a two-story pavilion for entertaining is part of an extensive building and landscaping project by Cruickshank Remodeling. The homeowners had recently purchased the adjacent property which contained a mid century ranch house. After demolishing the structure, the yard was then graded and reconfigured into an upper and lower lawn and garden areas, taking advantage of the elevation change in the lot. The design goal was the creation of various entertainment spaces that can be viewed in our before and after visual tour.
Before frost arrives, take cuttings of favorite plants, like coleus, plectranthus, or scented geraniums. Stem tip cuttings from these plants root easily to allow you to overwinter starts for next year’s containers. Also take cuttings of herbs like pineapple sage, Greek basil, mint and basil to root in water and transplant into pots to grow garden fresh flavors on your windowsill.
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.
You could almost mistake beautiful ranunculi for roses. If you live in USDA zones 8-10, plant the bulbs 2" deep in the fall. In cooler climates, ranunculus won’t survive the winter, so wait until spring to tuck them into the garden or containers, and expect the blooms to open in late summer. (You'll need to buy new bulbs next spring.) Plant the bulbs with the claw-shaped side facing down.
Crunchy ‘Sweet Sunset’ banana peppers won the 2015 All-America Selection award. The fruits grow on compact plants that thrive in containers or the garden, and signal they’re ready to harvest when they change from pale green to light yellow. If you prefer, wait a little longer to pick, until the peppers turn red. This variety has better pest and disease resistance, and is more tolerant of drought and heat, than many older varieties.
Southgate Brandi rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Brandi Michele Raley’) is a heat-tolerant evergreen that grows well in gardens from Pennsylvania to the Deep South. Flowers start as pink buds that unfurl to reveal pink ruffled blooms. Brandi rhododendron stays small, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It’s a great plant for containers, hedges or edging a walkway or drive. Site plants in part sun to full shade. Hardy in Zones 6-9.
Enjoy all the great attributes of viburnum in a neat little package. Lil’ Ditty grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide, making it a great choice for perennial borders, containers or edging water gardens. Fragrant white late spring blooms—a big hit with pollinators—fade to form berries, which shift color as they ripen from green to pink to red to blue to black. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Botanical name: Viburnum cassinoides
Chrysanthemums contain chemical compounds that act as natural insecticides, which are processed and sold as pyrethrum. It’s a go-to natural pesticide for dealing with fleas, ants, ticks, silverfish and bedbugs. Certain types of mums do a better job at repelling insects than others. The ones used commercially for extracting pyrethrums include painted daisy (Chrysanthemum coccineum) and Dalmatian daisy (Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium). Use these perennial mums in the garden to add daisy-like flowers to planting designs.
For a bright pop of color in even the smallest garden, turn to Moscato barberry. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Lime green leaves provide strong color year-round. New leaves have orange edges that fade to lime. Use in containers, planting beds or along a walk. Hardy in Zones 4-7. Botanical name: Berberis thunbergii ‘BailAnna’
Take your yard to the dark side by adding a drift of ‘Purple Knight’ alternanthera (Alternanthera dentata). This easy growing annual thrives in whatever weather summer throws at it—heat, humidity, thunderstorms or drought. Use ‘Purple Knight’ to deliver color to planting beds, or tuck it into a container design where it happily plays a thriller or filler role. If you like to gather garden bouquets, include this dark-leafed beauty in your plant palette. Stems make a pretty addition to a vase. Pinch plants when young to increase branching. Leaf color is darkest in full sun, but plants adapt well to part sun or part shade conditions. Plants grow 18 to 36 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide.
You can buy commercially-prepared echinacea to make tea, but beware. WedMD warns that some echinacea teas are mislabeled and may contain harmful or even toxic ingredients. Some gardeners make their own tea by brewing a teaspoon or two of dried echinacea in boiling water, and adding a little honey for sweetening. These plants are often used to fight flu and other infections. Shown here: ornamental Big Sky™ 'Summer Sky'™ coneflower Echinacea purpurea x paradoxa.
Several varieties of blue fescue (Festuca glauca) are available on the market. ‘Elijah Blue’ is a classic form, offering powdery blue leaves that bring color to the landscape year-round. Wheat-like seedheads appear in early summer. This grass thrives in dry conditions and is an outstanding choice for rock gardens, troughs or containers. Drought-tolerant and deer-resistant, ‘Elijah Blue’ thrives in coastal conditions, too. Plants grow 8 to 10 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Evergreen clematis bring year-round color to gardens, and the variety known as Avalanche is no exception. This beauty offers an avalanche of snow white blooms in spring. Also known as Clematis x cartmanii ‘Blaaval,’ this clematis grows best in part to full sun. Vines grow 12 to 15 feet tall with support and belong to Pruning Group 1. This means plants don’t typically need pruning, but if you must cut stems to help contain growth or reduce height, make cuts immediately after blooming. Hardy in Zones 7-9.
Unusual hand-shaped leaves with a striking color mix make Gryphon begonia a star for shade gardens. Avocado green leaves have maroon veins and are splashed with silver. Leaf undersides and stems also showcase maroon shades. It’s a natural for containers, easily filling the thriller role. It looks beautiful paired with red and white Super Elfin impatiens (shown). Gryphon does best in part to full shade, growing 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. In Southern zones, protect Gryphon from hot afternoon sun.
Embrace a new boxwood that’s hardy, deer-resistant and beautiful. Variegated leaves sport green with a lime margin that deepens to gold as summer unfolds. This winter hardy boxwood adapts well to formal gardens, shrub borders or containers. Or use it as a hedge or foundation planting. Evergreen leaves provide good winter interest. Plants grow in sun or shade, reaching 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9. Good to know: This boxwood tolerates heavy pruning but doesn’t require any pruning. If desired, clip to shape in summer.
Want a little drama in your yard? Make room for Vertigo purple fountain grass (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Tift 8’). This gorgeous grass adds bold color with its deep purple—almost black—leaves. Stems stand strong, and leaf ends drape gracefully. Use it solo as an accent plant, or arrange it in mass as a dark hedge. Vertigo commands attention in the garden or containers as it grows 4 to 8 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 8-11. In areas with cold winters, treat Vertigo as an annual.
Beloved for its ability to beckon bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, bee balm (Monarda) also earns rave reviews for its mosquito-repelling qualities. For many insect-deterring plants to work, you have to crush leaves or blooms to release the plant’s volatile oils. Bee balm is an exception to that rule. As it grows and blooms in your garden, it releases fragrances mosquitoes dislike (so does basil, by the way). Bee balm is a perennial that flowers in a variety of colors and plant sizes. This beauty is Balmy Rose monarda, which is a compact type growing to 1 foot high. It’s a great choice for edging beds or tucking into containers.
Garden or shelling peas are super easy to grow and bring a lot of nutrition to the dinner table. Peas contain nearly every vitamin and mineral you need and are a low glycemic index veggie, helping to stabilize blood glucose. Packed with fiber, they also make you feel full longer. The trickiest part of growing garden peas is knowing when to harvest. Pods should be full and firm to the touch, which is a clue the peas are fully formed. If the pod is soft and the sides press in easily, the peas haven’t yet filled out. This variety is ‘Feisty,’ which is a tendril or afila type of pea. The vines produce more tendrils than leaves. With fewer leaves, pods are easy to spot and pick. The tendrils are edible and make a beautiful garnish or salad green.