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.
No matter what makes someone cherish a plant, for it to remain a garden favorite it must tolerate a wide range of soils and climates. The bright red berries of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), the large winter flowers of Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’, and the fragrant stems of paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) are from plants grown at my family home place for over 75 years with no care at all. And they have been shared from cuttings and divided clumps and bulbs throughout our whole family.
Moonflower vine is the after-dark cousin to morning glory. This annual vine opens stunning 6-inch-wide white blooms—loaded with fragrance—starting at dusk. On a warm summer’s evening, it’s pure joy to sit on a patio and watch the moonflowers twirl open. Plant moonflower on a trellis with morning glory for a spectacular sunrise to sunset show. Like morning glories, each moonflower blossom lasts a single day (night). This annual vine grows to 20 feet, twining its way around supports. Soak seeds overnight or nick them prior to planting. Why we love it: The sweet fragrance is tough to beat, and the moths that pollinate the flowers are a delight to watch.
This formal living room is likely Angela's favorite place to get inspired, primarily because she's always wanted a pink room (Sherwin Williams, Lotus Flower). Her design books, magazines and some of her most prized vintage finds are housed in this space. I love that this angle of the room is perfectly balanced and there is a relationship between each of the pieces. The vintage print framed by the pair of lamps, compliments the chairs flanking the console, which is grounded by the ottoman. Angela’s use of black and white in this room and throughout the house adds a dose of classic design in spaces with unconventional wall colors and bold abstract artwork.
It’s tough to beat the floral perfume of lilacs. These flowering shrubs open blooms from late spring to early summer, depending on variety. The blossoms offer traditional colors, like purple, lavender and white. You can also find lilacs with pink, yellow and even bicolor blooms. A few lilacs actually lack fragrance, so it’s important to do your homework before buying a plant. Some of the most fragrant varieties include light blue ‘President Grevy (Zones 3-7, shown), wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7) and white ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Zones 3-7). Plants grow from shrub to small tree size, reaching from 3 to 15 feet tall. Hardiness depends on variety, from Zones 2-9.
Black-eyed susan vine (Thunbergia alata) takes on a new hue with Lemon A-Peel. The flowers on this variety unfurl in a clear lemon yellow hue like living sunshine. Easy-growing black-eyed susan vine covers a trellis with non-stop blooms all summer long. It adapts well to growing in pots on a tepee trellis. Give this vine full sun, except in the Deep South, where afternoon shade is welcome. Butterflies and other pollinator insects visit blooms, adding to the color show. Plants grow 5 to 8 feet tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Annual vine, hardy in Zones 10-11. Why we love it: This vine opens non-stop flowers—and it never needs deadheading.
Greenhouse-grown hydrangeas often hold their blooms for weeks indoors. Don't let your potted hydrangea completely dry out, and keep it in a cool, bright room, out of direct sun. After the last frost in spring, move your hydrangea outdoors to a shady spot for a week or two. Then gradually give it some morning sun, to help ease its transition. Finally, plant it in a location that gets morning sun (unless you have a variety that's labeled with different sun or shade requirements). Hydrangeas should be kept watered and mulched as the weather warms up. it may take them a year or two to start blooming again at the normal time of year. Gardeners in cold winter regions sometimes lose their flower buds to late cold snaps.
You may not think of a chipmunk as a pest, but when it starts digging under shrubs or patios, your view may change. Chipmunks actually cause the costliest damage to established landscapes, unseating retaining walls, destabilizing walkways and even killing mature roses or shrubs (by digging directly under the trunk). Once chipmunks dig tunnels, other critters arrive to set up housekeeping in those tunnels, including voles, shrews and snakes. Chipmunks visit gardens with bird feeders and other ready sources of food or water. An outdoor cat or dog can help keep these critters at bay, as can garlic oil pegs you toss into tunnels or various repellents you sprinkle onto flower beds or near tunnel openings.
Yellow is the perfect color for spring; especially citron—a warm, smile-inducing shade that evokes sunny skies and bright, cheery flowers. This year citron yellow is one of the most popular choices in design and decor. The shade is having an incredible moment, being spotted in everything from bright and cheery textiles to colorful wallpaper. You likely even spotted it at the Royal Wedding, a la Amal Clooney’s stunning dress. While yellow is immediately stunning when you’re wearing it, designing with it at home can be a little tricky. But don’t get discouraged; with just a little work it can be one of the most beautiful colors in your space. Here are just a few of the ways that citron yellow can brighten up your home.
Over 4,000 different types of aphids exist and attack plants. If their numbers are low, they might be unsightly, but won’t actually harm plants. It’s when populations boom that their feeding damages plants, causing leaves to curl or flower buds to fail to open. As aphids feed, they release a sticky honeydew, enriched with plant sugars. These sugars grow mold, attract ants and create another layer of problems. Ants will actually guard aphids to protect them from predators so the ants can harvest the honeydew. When you spot a cluster of aphids, remove them with a spray of water from the hose, or kill them with insecticidal soap or a sprinkle of diatomaceous earth. Birds and predatory insects eat them, including ladybugs and lacewings. Avoid using pesticides in your garden and let these natural controls help take care of aphids for you.
Mint is a workhorse in the garden when it comes to giving insects the brush off. To release the strong mint oils in leaves, brush against plants or crush leaves and rub on skin or clothing. Try tucking lightly bruised leaves (still attached to stems) into pockets or bouquets on your porch or patio to confuse and repel mosquitoes. This minty beauty (foreground) is variegated pineapple mint, but you can also use any mint, including spearmint, lemon mint or peppermint. Mints spread aggressively in the garden. Always plant it in containers, even in beds, keeping the edge of pots elevated at least an inch above soil. When mint flowers, the blooms attract beneficial insects, including ones that sting, like wasps. If you don’t want these insects near seating areas, keep plants trimmed so blooms don’t form.
Hops offers a nice ornamental form that works well in the garden on a pergola or strong, well-anchored arch. The flower, known as a cone, forms in late summer. This is the part you harvest to make beer. ‘Cascade’ hops (Humulus lupulus ‘Cascade’) is a disease-resistant vine that ripens cones used to make American pale ales. Pick cones in late summer, dry them in a warm, dark place, and freeze in airtight bags until you’re ready to brew your own craft ale. Undemanding hops vines are easy to grow. After vines die to the ground with frost, prune to ground level and wait for new growth to appear in spring. Vines can grow to 25 feet high in one season and up to 6 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Earwigs inspire terror with those giant pincer claws on their backside. Those claws are used to grasp prey, including slugs, aphids and insect larvae. They’re also used to fend off predators. Earwigs fill two roles in the garden. On the positive side, they scavenge and consume decaying organic matter and eat other plant pests. But when populations are high, they can damage desirable plants by feeding on the soft tissue of seedlings, new shoots and flower petals. One easy way to deter earwigs is placing rolled up newspapers around the garden as traps. The earwigs crawl inside, and you can shake them into a bucket of soapy water. Diatomaceous earth also works against earwigs. Sprinkle it at the base of plants, on earwig clusters or anywhere earwig populations are high.
Black-eyed susan vine (Thunbergia alata) takes on a new hue with Tangerine Slice A-Peel. The flowers on this variety unfurl in playful shades of orange and red. Black-eyed susan vine is a cinch to grow. It happily clambers up an arch and delivers non-stop blooms all summer long. This vine also adapts well to growing in pots on a tepee trellis. Give this beauty a spot in full sun, except in the Deep South, where afternoon shade is welcome. Butterflies and other pollinator insects visit blooms, adding to the color show. Plants grow 5 to 8 feet tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Annual vine, hardy in Zones 10-11.
Meet a clematis that adds a cool note to any garden with its ice-blue blossoms. ‘Diamond Ball’ clematis unfurls beautiful double blooms up to 5 inches across. It flowers on both new and old stems, making it an easy clematis to prune. Simply cut vines back to 18 inches tall in early spring. Give clematis a trellis or netting to climb in a spot with the head of the plant in sun and the base shaded. Vines grow 5 to 6 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Why we love it: Blue is a must-have color in the garden, and this shade of ice-blue is especially unusual—and on an easy-to-grow plant.
This semi-miniature African violet, ‘Mac’s Strawberry Sundae’ (G. McDonald, hybridizer), has coral-red blooms. African violet blooms have many different flower shapes, including singles, stars (5 petals in a star shape), doubles, semidoubles, ruffled doubles, ruffled stars, and wasps (5 petals, with the upper two slightly curled back). Winston J. Goretsky, president of the African Violet Society of America, says the plants will bloom when they get sufficient light. “No amount of care or feeding will encourage them to bloom if they are not receiving enough light. Available light diminishes drastically, the further distance away from a window the plant is grown. A plant grown on a coffee table in the middle of a room will grow, but may not bloom.”
A native plant, trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is a fast-growing beauty that scales an arch or pergola in a season. It’s famous for trumpet blooms that unfurl in bold orange shades, although you can also find varieties with yellow or red flowers. Blooms are a magnet for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Trumpet vine stems can wander underground, invading planting beds and disrupting patios. It’s best planted not too close to buildings, but makes a perfect choice for training on a yard or garden entry arch or pergola. Prune vines hard in early spring. Plants grow 20 to 30 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9. Use caution planting trumpet vine in Zone 6 or warmer, where mild winters allow rampant (some say invasive) growth.
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.