Purplish to eggplant-brown ‘Black Jack’ figs are sweet and juicy and elongated in shape. This variety is a semi-dwarf, so it’s great for small garden spaces. Rated for hardiness zones 7 to 10, the trees grow about 15 feet tall and wide, but can be pruned to stay around 6 feet tall.
Naturally dwarf, Mr. Bowling Ball arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’) grows in a spherical shape. Plants never need pruning, topping out at a tidy 30 inches tall and wide. Use Mr. Bowling Ball as a path or driveway edging, foundation planting or container plant in the warmer end of its range. Hardy in Zones 3-8.
Also known as ‘Rouge Cardinal’ clematis, this vining beauty opens flowers with wine-red petals surrounding a creamy center. Each blossom measures 4 to 6 inches across. Flowers appear from midsummer until fall frost. Vines grow 6 to 10 feet tall and can be pruned as belonging to Group 2 or 3 clematis. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
This is a classic clematis that’s easy to grow and beautiful. ‘Jackmannii’ unfurls purple flowers with yellow center stamens. Each blossom measures 5 to 6 inches across. Flowers appear from early summer until fall frost. Vines grow 8 to 12 feet tall and belong to Pruning Group 3. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Evergreen clematis bring year-round color to gardens. Avalanche delivers, as the name suggests, an avalanche of snow white blooms in spring. Also known as Clematis x cartmanii ‘Blaaval,’ this vining beauty grows best in part to full sun. Vines grow 12 to 15 feet tall with support and belong to Pruning Group 1. Hardy in Zones 7-9.
It’s not unusual to find dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) sold in various forms. In the nursery trade, this type of pruned spruce is known as a topiary spiral. Its unusual silhouette makes it a good choice for a focal point shrub in the landscape. When adding dwarf Alberta spruce to your yard, choose a spot with full to part sun and well-drained soil.
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.
Also known as bearberry, this ground cover brings multi-season interest to the garden with white summer flowers followed by bright red berries. Plants grow quickly, reaching a height of 12 inches with a spread of up to 8 to 10 feet. Prune plants as needed to keep them in check. Hardy in Zones 5 to 8. Botanical name: Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Eichholz’
Fill your summer with the pink-on-pink blooms of Pink Mink clematis. This beauty unfurls pink blooms that have a deep pink stripe on each petal. Blossoms open all summer long. Give this clematis a sturdy support for its vigorous vines that grow 9 to 10 feet tall by 6 to 6.5 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Pink Mink clematis belongs to Pruning Group 3.
Pot up your coleus before the first frost to overwinter them as colorful, showy houseplants. Coleus grow nicely in an eastern exposure, and if they start to look leggy and stretched, simply prune them back. Stick the cuttings into a glass of water or a small container filled with potting mix, and roots will soon form, increasing your windowsill garden. Shown here: Coleus 'Sun Rose To Lime Magic'
'Mango Lemonade' is eye-catching and unusual. It’s also the newest variety in Star Roses and Plants’ Eyeconic series, a collection of Hulthemia roses that have hybridized to bloom repeatedly with little pruning. The flowers are apricot-orange and pink, with bold, red centers. Use the compact, rounded plants in small spaces; they grow about 2½ feet wide by 3 feet high and bear lightly-scented blooms. This variety is recommended for western gardens.
Shrubs and trees planted too close to your house can trap moisture, damage siding when the wind blows, and fill gutters with debris. “I want to be able to walk behind shrubs — they need to be at least three feet from the house and from air conditioning units because they block airflow,” says Steve Gladstone, owner of Stonehollow Fine Home Inspection in Stamford, Conn. “With trees, you don’t want them rubbing against the house at all. If the sun can’t dry your house, you’ll have to repaint more often because mold and pollen will build up.” Prune regularly to keep your house envelope clear.
Climbing vines like ivy, although beautiful, can splinter and rot wood siding and even weaken the mortar between bricks. Prune any existing ivy so that it stays away from windows, gutters and trim. If your heart is set on adding a climbing vine, choose a twining vine that wraps around a trellis or other nearby structure rather than a vine that climbs by tendrils or rootlets that cling to the surface of your house.
Think about tree safety. "My magnolia in the front of the house has been pruned up, so I put a mulch island under it," says Josh Fuder, agriculture and natural resources agent for UGA Extension - Cherokee County. He suggests getting the mulch island as close to the drip line as possible. This example does not go all the way out to the drip line, but with a diameter of 21 inches, it is a little more in proportion with the size of the tree.
Hot summer sun can burn tomatoes, causing a condition known as sunscald. It’s not much different from a sunburn on your skin. Sunscald results in a white patch that has very thin skin. The flesh beneath doesn’t taste good. The problem occurs when there aren’t enough leaves to shade fruit. Staking tomatoes or using cages helps leaves to dangle and cover fruit. Use care when pruning tomato leaves. Make sure you don’t remove all the leaves that shade ripening tomatoes.
English Rose 'Tranquillity' has beautifully rounded flowers with neatly placed petals, making up a perfect rosette. The buds are lightly brushed with red and yellow but as the flowers fully open the petals show as pure white. There is a light apple fragrance. 'Tranquillity' has excellent vigor and is very healthy. It is almost completely thornless. Grows to 4 feet tall x 3 feet wide, although it could easily grow taller if lightly pruned. Repeat-flowering. (David Austin 2012, Ausnoble).
Who doesn’t want color in every season? As an old-fashioned but dependable alternative to mass-produced “cushion” mum, which are often short lived, there are many larger-flowering antique chrysanthemums which are easy to root from stem cuttings or divide from old clumps. Stake them to keep them from being floppy, tip-prune new growth in late spring and mid-summer to keep plants compact with more flowers. Root the clippings to share with others.
Hedge maple is a versatile tree. Use it alone as a pretty shade tree, or arrange plants side by side to form a hedge. First Editions Jade Patina hedge maple (Acer campestre ‘Baillee’) has an unusual leaf form that’s eye-catching. Jade Patina withstands pruning well and tolerates dry soils and salt, which makes it a good choice for planting beside roads or driveways. Fall color is a yellow shade. Trees grow 20 to 35 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-7.
Usually dwarf Alberta spruce is a go-to plant for adding an air of formality to gardens. But the topiary forms also lend themselves to playful garden whimsy, like this pom-pom spruce decked out with sun hat and shoes. It’s a great choice for a children’s garden. If your dwarf Alberta spruce develops brown needles or dead spots due to winter burn or spider mites, you can always prune out those branches to create your own one-of-a-kind topiary style.