Shrubs can be fertilized in early spring and most can be fed again, more lightly, in autumn. But wait about a month after the first fall frost, so you don’t stimulate new growth that will be killed back in cold weather. Shown here: Rhododendron 'Amy Cotta'
Along with their unique attributes, heirloom plants have the power to bring generations together. My grown children learned to make fruit preserves from their great-great-grandmother’s fig bush, and now they each have a “start” of the original tree in their own gardens.
Caring for peonies starts with choosing the right planting spot and making sure soil is exceptionally healthy. Once you take care of that, maintaining healthy plants depends on the basics: watering and fertilizing peonies. Less frequent chores, like deadheading peonies after flowering and cutting back peonies in fall are not demanding tasks but play a key role in keeping this perennial productive.
Few plants symbolize fragrance like roses. This group of plants features shrubs, climbers, miniatures—and all sorts of other wonderful types. Flower color runs the gamut, including white, deep burgundy (almost black), lemon yellow and a host of other hues. Which roses are most fragrant? A few that have stood the test of time include ‘Autumn Damask’ (Zones 5-9), ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ (Zones 6-9), ‘Double Delight’ (Zones 3-9), ‘Mister Lincoln' (Zones 5-9) and ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ (Zones 3-9).
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.
Pruning causes plants to produce new growth, which is tender and highly vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Wait to prune shrubs, including butterfly bush and caryopteris, until spring, when all danger of frost has passed. At that point you can remove any winter killed branches. In future years, aim to get pruning done by late August, so plants have time to harden off before freezes arrive.
Trade in traditional green beans for a colorful shade of purple with ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans. These beauties offer a green interior, which makes for a stunning raw salad. Cooked, the purple fades to typical green bean hues.
Evergreen shrubs bring a winter landscape to life. When the snow falls, take time to notice plantings around you, noting evergreen forms that you like. A mix of needle types and broadleaf evergreens creates a striking winter scene that also looks good in other seasons.
Clematis has a shrubby side, where stems grow upright instead of twining and vining. ‘Stand By Me’ clematis features a shrub form that doesn’t need a trellis, although it may benefit from a little support. The blue blooms dangle like bells, opening from late spring through midsummer. Flowers fade to form fuzzy seedheads that are eye-catching and fun. Plants grow 34 to 38 inches tall by 24 to 28 inches wide. Cut stems back in early spring to 6 inches tall. Hardy in Zones 3-7.
Design Tip: do not be scared of planting English Roses close to the edge of the path or seat where they may spill over. Their proximity makes it all the better for appreciating the beautiful flowers and delicious fragrances. Michael Marriott, technical manager and senior rosarian of David Austin Roses.