If you’re looking for an ornamental grass that delivers fall interest, check out Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha). Large, foot-long seedhead plumes soar above leaves in late summer, donning a pink tinge that matures to tan. Seedheads dry well and make a nice addition to dried arrangements, or let them age naturally in the garden where they’ll add interest all winter long. Korean feather reed grass likes moist soil and tolerates heavy clay soil. Cut plants to the ground in early spring. Leaves grow 36 inches tall and 20 to 24 inches wide. Seedheads stand 12 inches above leaves. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
These perennial weeds smell like their namesakes, and there’s no mistaking their presence when you mow over them. Wild onion has flat leaves, while garlic is round. They both grow from bulbs and form clusters similar to chives. To remove them, avoiding hand-pulling. It only serves to separate the main bulb from the tiny bulblets surrounding it, which remain in soil and sprout. To dig wild onion or garlic, excavate about 6 inches deep to get the whole bulb. Otherwise, spray with herbicide. The kind that kills nutsedge works on wild onion and garlic. In late spring, these weeds produce small bulbs atop long stems. Snip these and destroy them. They contain new bulbs—they’re this weed’s way of spreading and covering new ground.
The client wanted a room that reflected their boy's name, "Jonah" without being literal. This nursery is a perfect example of how a room can rock a theme and stay sophisticated, timeless and relevant. This big boy's space will not time out through the use of bold color, dramatic pattern and mature furnishings.
Tricks of the Trade:
1. How to Balance a Bold Pattern: Make sure your colors have a weight to it that can hold up to the bold pattern. Designer Karen Wolf used bright mid tones to balance the whales and also showcase them.
2. Why Red?: The black pattern called for a "power pop". The playful and strong red color was able to shine on its own in just right amounts in the room.
3. Sweet and Strong: A great mix for a room to grow. The sweet patterned window treatments are offset by the strong wallpaper.
4. Pattern Mixes: The dense wallpaper was mixed with a small window treatment print and open graphic with white field on the floor.
‘Sweet Summer Love’ clematis is the hot weather cousin to sweet autumn clematis, a classic fall bloomer that opens sweetly scented flowers. ‘Sweet Summer Love’ clematis unfurls flowers all summer long—from July through September—that exude a sweet fragrance. On hot humid days, the scent hangs deliciously in the air. Blossoms start a cranberry hue and shift to purple as they age. Best of all, ‘Sweet Summer Love’ won’t invade your garden with unwanted seedlings (like its cousin, sweet autumn clematis). Plants benefit from a hard pruning (cut stems to 6 inches tall) in late winter. Vines grow 10 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide—a great choice for an entry arch or trellis. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
When it comes to violets, opinions are divided. To some, it’s a weed of the vilest kind; to others, it’s a dainty wildflower. No matter which camp you support, it’s vital to know that while violets have a literary reputation of being shy, in the landscape, they are anything but that. This perennial bloomer boasts a prolific personality, spreading easily by underground stems and seeds. In the lawn, it adapts quickly to lowered mower heights, growing shorter as needed to dodge the blade. Violets thrive in moist, shady sites, but mature plants are drought tolerant. The solution to eliminating violets? Vigilant hand-weeding (be sure to remove all the rhizome) and targeted herbicide use.
Take time to select tomatoes that suit your growing conditions. Typically if a tomato is for sale in your area, you’ll get good results. If local garden clubs, master gardeners or public gardens have plant sales, that’s a terrific spot to find tomatoes adapted to your region. Also select tomatoes that work for how you intend to use them. You can find ‘maters for slicing, sauce making or salads. This orange roma tomato (above) is ‘Sunrise Sauce.’ It’s the only non-heirloom orange paste tomato on the market and whips up a bright sauce that’s as delicious as it is colorful. Lastly, choose varieties that deliver the flavor you crave. For instance, tomatoes exist that offer low acid, higher lycopene content, smoky overtones or intense sweetness.
Purple flower clusters (8 inches long) cover this small tree all summer long. Blooms beckon pollinators of all kinds—it’s a great plant for a bee or butterfly garden. Gray-green leaves have purple undersides that complement blooms. Look for other chaste tree varieties with flowers in shades of pink or white. The branch structure is very architectural and adds good winter interest to a landscape. If your chaste tree develops lots of twiggy growth and starts looking more shrub-like, prune it in late winter. Remove all smaller twigs along five or six major trunks to create a tree-looking plant. Size: 6 to 8 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 6-9.
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.
The nightmare of dandelions is the deep taproot (up to 15 feet long) and puffball seedhead, which disperses seeds on every breeze. The best defense against dandelions in the lawn is growing thick, healthy turf, which means mowing at the right height and fertilizing correctly. In planting beds and paths, these familiar weeds tend to show up in the worst places, such as rooted in the center of a perennial clump or tucked right in the edge row of paving stones. The best ways to get rid of dandelions? Spray them or dig them. When spraying, kick dandelions a bit first to scuff and wound the leaves—it helps the spray penetrate better. With digging, make sure you get at least 2 inches of taproot or they’ll return as two plants.
Bagworms are the larval form of a moth that attacks evergreens and other trees. The worm inside each bag feeds on the evergreen bush or tree, building a case around itself for protection from predators. The case is made from bits of the plant the insect is feeding on and slowly enlarges over time as the insect grows. Females lay eggs in the bags in late fall. The best control, if you only have a few bagworms, is to handpick the bags and drop them into soapy water or put them out with the trash. Predatory insects including wheel bugs or insect-eating birds will attack these insects, even inside their bags. You can also spray traditional or bioinsecticides. Follow directions carefully on timing. Once larvae are more mature and tucked into thicker bags, the chances of a spray reaching the worm itself are small.
Clematis flowers come in many shapes and sizes. Clematis texensis is known as a small-flowered clematis because it opens little blooms. ‘Duchess of Albany’ features bell-shaped pink flowers with deeper pink stripes down the center of petals. This kind of clematis is also referred to as a late-flowering type, because its first flowers start appearing in midsummer and keep opening through September in most regions. Once vines are established, they’re drought tolerant. Small-flowered clematis work well as a vine that weaves through other plantings, such as shrub roses, perennials or other shrubs. For best flowering, cut back in early spring to 6 inches tall. Vines grow 8 to 20 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
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.”
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, and 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 wine-red ‘Congo’ (Zones 4-7), pink ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Zones 2-7), light blue ‘President Grevy' (Zones 3-7) 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.
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.
Go native with false indigo, a prairie plant that’s low maintenance and gorgeous. Pretty blue-purple flower spikes appear in late spring and make a great addition to a garden-fresh bouquet. Leaves have a blue-green tone that looks stunning in a vase—harvest stems all season long. Dried seedpods make a nice addition to fall arrangements. This is a tap-rooted perennial, which means it’s not easy to move once established. Plant it where you know it can stay put. False indigo offers different flower colors, including blends of blue, yellow, brown and white. The variety shown is ‘Blueberry Sundae.’ False indigo are deer-resistant plants that grow 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for false indigo: bearded iris, peony, clustered bellflower, purple coneflower and echibeckia.
Cutting tools are vital to successful gardening. Start with the dynamic duo of hand pruners or shears and loppers. Hand pruners are the tool of choice for stems up to ¾ inches thick. It’s a go-to tool for deadheading or pruning perennials, trimming new growth on shrubs and snipping thick pepper and squash stems. With hand pruners and loppers, a bypass blade design (blades work like scissors) give you more cuts and versatility in the garden. Also invest in a sharpening tool of some type, along with lessons on use. Clean and sharpen cutting blades regularly to keep them in tiptop shape. Last but not least, pick up a good pair of sturdy scissors (bright handles are preferable—helps in not losing them in the yard). You’ll grab those for snipping twine, herbs, flowers for bouquets, greens and a host of other items.
Native perennial anise hyssop earns its keep in the garden by filling many roles. Offering beautiful cut flowers is just one of them. Known botanically as Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop is a strong pollinator plant, bringing bees, butterflies and many beneficial insects to the garden. Leaves can be used to flavor drinks with a hint of anise, and small purple petals offer a burst of licorice flavor. Flower spikes are sturdy and work in a bouquet with or without the actual tiny lavender blooms. They provide structure and a vertical accent in arrangements. Deer-and rabbit-resistant plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 18 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8. Good vase companions for anise hyssop: purple coneflower, echibeckia, hosta, gas plant and garden phlox.
How gorgeous is this combo of copper pot, chunky purple amethyst, hawthoria 'Zebra' and sempervivum? To create this look, cut your hen and chicks (sempervivum) and position at an angle in the pot, filling your container with cactus potting mix. Rocks at the bottom of the container help with drainage. End the design with your amethyst and moss. Don't forget to soak your hen and chicks every two weeks and replace. Lightly water your hawthoria with about one tablespoon of water every two weeks.
Keep in mind, says Fried, that you can make your succulent designs even more easy care by using succulent cuttings rather than planting them in containers. Cut where the root begins, says Fried and position in your container. Cuttings can be easily changed out. Just remember to soak your cuttings every two or three weeks in a bowl of water and they should last for months without roots. When you are done with your arrangement you can place the cutting in soil in a container or in your backyard and "watch it root and grow" says Fried.