Camellias steal the show when they burst into bloom, and Pink Perplexion is no exception. This is a sasanqua camellia, known for its small leaves and ability to grow well in containers and landscape beds. Pink flowers up to 3 inches across cover this beauty in fall. Those pink blooms boast a color that defies description, which is why it’s called Pink Perplexion. Give it a spot in part shade to full sun with acidic soil. Plants grow 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 7-9. Good to know: Sansanqua camellias take well to pruning and shearing. Best timing is after flowering, in spring, before new flower buds form on stems in summer.
As you select plants for your landscape, take time to place plants where they’ll thrive. Be sure to give them the right amount of sunlight, the proper soil and enough elbow room to reach their mature size. There’s nothing worse than planting a shrub you have to prune constantly to make it fit your space. If a plant catches your eye, like this Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra, grows 6-8 feet tall and wide), do some quick research to learn if there’s another similar plant that might fit your spot better. Black Beauty elderberry grows even bigger (8-12 feet tall and wide), while Laced Up elderberry is the choice for small spaces, growing 6-10 feet tall and only 3-4 feet wide.
When clematis flowers fade, they form quirky mophead seedheads that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story. Each individual stem in the mophead holds a seed at its base. As the seedheads mature, the mop “strings” become fuzzy. Clematis seedheads made a wonderful addition to dried flower creations. This clematis is ‘Rouge Cardinal,’ a beautiful large-flowered pink-hued bloomer. This clematis grows best in full sun. The 5- to 7-inch flowers shift to purple tones when plants receive more shade. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 inches above soil. Vines grow 10 to 12 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3 to 10.
A fungus is the culprit behind the black spots on peaches. It’s known as peach scab, and round spots that start out small and green slowly become black and almost velvety. With heavy infections, peaches may crack or be misshapen. As with most fungal diseases, wet weather is the trigger for infection to occur. It’s okay to eat peaches with scab. Just peel the fruit and remove any soft or brown spots. To help prevent this disease, clean up all fallen leaves, twigs and fruit. Prune to open up the tree’s inner canopy and increase air flow. Check with your local extension office for fungicide spray recommendations, which should start when petals fall from flowers in spring. Peach scab also affects nectarines and apricots.
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.
‘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.
2015 North American Introduction: 'Thomas a Becket': Whereas David Austin's English Roses often recall an Old Rose in look, this rose is closer to a species rose, being more natural and shrubby in growth. The large red flowers are shallowly cupped, opening as informal rosettes, with petals that quickly reflex as the flowers age. The attractive color is elusive, a shimmering light red paling to a carmine red, making it difficult to capture in words or in a photograph. It has an Old Rose fragrance with a strong lemon zest character. Details: Repeat-flowering. The double flowers are 4-inches in diameter with approximately 65 petals each. Grows to 4 feet tall x 3 feet wide, or more according to pruning. (David Austin 2013, Auswinston).
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.
Sharp blades are vital to successful gardening, whether they come in a pair (pruners) or as single blades, like these tools. The large tool is a perennial divider. The heart-shape blade slices through the center of perennials like pudding, and the short handle provides enough space to get some real oomph behind the effort. It also makes quick work of edging a small bed. The big knife (sold as Fiskars Big Grip Knife) makes quick work of weeding, seed planting, dividing small plants and digging holes for bedding plants. A similar tool is the Japanese hori-hori knife (which can easily take the place of a trowel). While these types of bladed tools are somewhat specialized, their versatility in the garden makes them worth the investment.
Romance blooms when ‘The President’ opens its deep purple blossoms. Expect the first flush of flowers in late spring to early summer, followed by a second blooming with smaller flowers in early autumn. Clematis with classic flower forms like ‘The President’ grow best in full sun to part shade. Prune in late winter or early spring, cutting vines back to 6 to 9 inches tall. Place cuts just above a pair of strong buds. Clematis grows well on a pergola, but flowers may unfurl across the top of the structure, out of sight. Instead, try planting clematis on an arch or fence so you can see the blooms. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 8 to 12 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
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.
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.
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.
The four-lined plant bug attacks perennials, creating 1/16-inch square dead patches in leaves as they feed. These bugs create more of a cosmetic problem that plants often outgrow, but when numbers are high, the damage can lead to browned, misshapen and dying leaves, which you might mistake for disease. Four-lined plant bugs emerge about the time that forsythia leaves unfold. They’re shy and crafty hiders, so you’ll likely see the damage long before you spot one of them. The best way to control these bugs is twofold. First, in midsummer, when the insects disappear, cut back plants that have been attacked, snipping below the damage. This should remove any eggs that have been laid inside stems. Pruning like this delays flowering on perennials, but the plants will branch and become bushy, which means more flowers. Second, in fall, clean up all stems and leaf litter in the bed. Take care to remove all stems of plants the insect attacked during the growing season. Eggs that will hatch the following spring are typically laid inside those stems, so don’t add them to your compost pile.