Save your old mailbox, even if it has a bit of rust. Designer Janna Allbritton reused a discarded mailbox and crate to fill out a mantel and to display dried flowers, a Bible and a small succulent in a pot. "Use the unexpected to create levels and keep the eye moving for a great eye-catching vignette. Old books, a chippy step-stool, an antique box, or a child's chair are great items to start with ... this will give you a great framework from which to build," she says.
‘Kirigami’ ornamental oregano isn’t meant for the kitchen—it’s purely a garden delight with its colorful bracts and lightly fragrant flowers. In autumn’s cool nights, the rose-purple bracts on ‘Kirigami’ (Origanum x hybrid ‘Kirigami’) deepen in color. Look for this beauty in spring to grow all summer long and into fall. Or pick it up at garden centers in autumn to decorate outdoor spaces until hard frost arrives. This oregano is winter hardy in planting beds in Zones 5b-8b. Tuck it into the garden at least six weeks before hard frost to help ensure winter survival. Next spring, dig it and pot it, or enjoy its trailing stems in the garden.
The classic corsage flower, gardenia delivers fragrance—and ‘Sweet Tea’ is no exception. Pure white, tennis ball-size blooms contrast beautifully with waxy, deep green leaves. Plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, with a strong upright shape. The secret to a happy gardenia in the landscape is thick mulch, no soil disturbance (roots like to be left alone) and monthly feeding with an acid fertilizer, blood meal or fish emulsion. Grow ‘Sweet Tea’ as a hedge, or tuck it in a pot you can place beside your favorite outdoor seat to keep the perfume close at hand. Hardy in Zones 7 to 10.
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.
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.
Also known as oxalis, this is a versatile weed that grows in sun or shade, moist or dry soil. It’s a clover look-alike, with heart shape leaves and yellow flowers. Blooms fade to form upright seed pods that explode when ripe, flinging seeds away from the mother plant. It also roots from stem pieces. It’s happy to grow in lawns, planting beds, gravel drives or vegetable garden paths. Oxalis is a common weed in nursery pots, so be sure to check before adding plants to your landscape. The best way to beat it in the lawn is to mow high and fertilize to grow a healthy, thick lawn. In planting beds, carefully hand-pull or spray with herbicide.
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.