Video Look: What’s In Store October 12, 2018

🎃🍂 It’s pumpkin time! Our stores are packed with an array of festive decor to dress up the house for autumn this weekend. Don’t forget to plant your Spring blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils too! Ready to decorate indoors? Our greenhouses are stocked with fresh houseplants to clean the air and breathe new life into your interior spaces for the cooler months.

Moving into Fall and Winter

October can be a wonderful time in the garden. While the glories of summer may be behind us, it does not mean the end of color and interest in the garden. There are shrubs and trees that offer fall leaf color ranging from butter yellow, to orange, to glorious red. Many reveal interesting architecture and exfoliating bark when their leaves drop, drawing your attention throughout the winter. Others have berries that add vibrant color to the landscape. Here are some options to explore which will create fall and winter interest in the landscape.

Shrubs

Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ (Serviceberry)

This variety of our native Serviceberry lives up to its name. Its young leaves are bronze, mature to green, and turn brilliant orange and red in the autumn, all on multiple upright, highly branched stems, forming a small multi-stemmed tree. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ has spectacular 5-petaled, showy and slightly fragrant white flowers that are larger than those of other Amelanchiers. They appear in early spring in drooping clusters (racemes) before the leaves emerge. The flowers are at first tinged with pink, later fading to white. They give way to small round green berries which turn red and finally mature to a dark purplish black in the early summer. The edible berries are sweet and often used in jams, jellies and pies. The birds will find them as attractive as you do, so you may have to decide whether you will get more pleasure from your homemade jam or having feathered friends drawn to you garden.

Azalea (deciduous): When we think of azaleas, we tend to think of the evergreen azaleas that are staples in front yard plantings. Less well known are the deciduous azaleas. They are more upright in habit and tend to bloom a little later than the evergreen varieties, but are well worth the wait. Whether you choose a pink, yellow or orange flowering variety, they are highly fragrant. As autumn approaches, the leaves turn glorious shades of red, orange and yellow.
Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet): This native shrub is a late summer bloomer, producing fragrant, narrow upright panicle-shaped flowers in white or pink that are a magnet for butterflies and bees. An upright shrub, it performs well in sun or part shade. It grows in regular garden conditions and can also be used in moist spots. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn warm yellow in the autumn. ‘Ruby Spice’ has fragrant, deep pink flowers and grows 4’-6’ high and wide. ‘Hummingbird’ is a more compact growing variety at 3’-4’ and has fragrant, long-lasting white flowers. It is a great option for smaller gardens.
Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’ (Red twig Dogwood):

This is one of the most versatile shrubs for the residential landscape. It is happy in conditions ranging from full sun to the shade of a north facing garden. Light green leaves have an ivory margin (hence the variety name), and blow in even the slightest breeze. It complements whatever is planted next to it and will light up a shady garden. When the leaves drop, its many bright red stems stand out against the snow or against the foundation of your house. ‘Ivory Halo’ grows 4’ high and wide.

Cornus sericea ‘Arctic Fire’ (Red osier Dogwood): This is a compact selection which has dark red winter stems. It grows 3’-4’ feet tall and wide.

Enkianthus (Red Vein Enkianthus): This is a lovely shrub that deserves wider use in the residential landscape. It is an upright deciduous shrub that grow 6’-8’ tall and 3’-4’ wide in time. It has tiny, bell- shaped nodding flowers that look like lily-of- the-valley flowers. They are creamy white to pale pink with slim red stripes and edges. The small leaves are bluish-green and are grouped at the branch tips. The overall effect is one of great delicacy. It is hard to imagine that such a delicate looking shrub can become such a riot of color in the fall. Leaves offer red, orange and yellow tones that are absolutely beautiful.

Fothergilla:

This slow-growing deciduous shrub has fragrant white, bottlebrush-like flowers that appear in early spring. Some people describe the flowers as honey-scented. The unusually shaped leaves are rounded at the base and have slightly pointed edges from the mid-point to the tip. The show really takes off in fall when leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red. Fothergilla gardenia is referred to as dwarf Fothergilla, growing 2’-3’ tall and wide. ‘Mt Airy’ is a hybrid of two species and grows 3’-5’ tall and wide. ‘Blue Shadow’ is similar to’ Mt. Airy’ but has beautiful powder blue foliage. ‘Blue Mist’ is a more compact variety, growing 2’-3’, with the same intense blue foliage. Fothergilla will grow happily in full sun to moderate shade.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea): This multi-stemmed deciduous shrub is unlike the familiar hydrangea. Flowers are upright 12” long pyramidal panicles that open white and age to tones of pink and red. Large leaves resemble oak leaves in shape and turn a beautiful mahogany color in autumn. The cinnamon colored bark exfoliates, creating wonderful winter interest.

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry):

This shrub is native to the eastern United States. It produces bright red berries that persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) and often into early spring. It grows in full sun to part shade. Female forms such as ‘Red Spite’ require a male pollinator such as ‘Jim Dandy’ in order to produce the red berries. There is nothing like these showy berries to add a pop of welcome color in the depths of winter.

Itea (Sweetspire):


This is a lovely deer resistant native shrub that produces loads of long, pendulous white flowers that remain attractive through summer. It is a rounded shrub with gently arching branches. The bright green leaves of summer turn wonderful shades of red and orange in the autumn. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ grows 4’ tall while ‘Little Henry’ grows just 3’ tall.

Viburnum: There are many varieties of Viburnum, all of which offer interesting flowers, berries, leaf texture and beautiful red to mahogany colored foliage in the autumn. ‘Brandywine’ is one example, offering pink and blue berries, followed by glossy dark red to maroon fall foliage.

Trees

Deciduous Trees: Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the autumn. While we value their summer leaves and the shade they provide, they are to be valued for other features. Many offer beautiful bark and elegant architecture which enhances the autumn and winter landscape. Here are a few to consider:

Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple): This maple has slender upright branches. Its soft green leaves turn shades of orange and scarlet in fall. It becomes more distinctive and elegant with age, as its papery sheets of bark peel back to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark. This tree makes a lovely specimen in any landscape, including today’s smaller home landscape.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple):

Japanese maples are lovely and distinctive small trees for the home landscape. The varieties are almost infinite and all produce wonderful fall color, including shades of yellow, orange, red and bronze. They do best with some shade as full sun conditions can burn leaf edges.

Acer rubrum (Red Maple): Our beloved red maples add a rich dimension to the autumn landscape. Rubrum, meaning red, is in evidence everywhere: red flowers, red fruit, red stems and twigs, red buds and in fall, red and orange toned foliage. ‘October Glory’ is a variety that provides exceptional fall color.
Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ (Heritage River Birch): This fast-growing deciduous tree, often grown in a clump of 3 stems, provides a sense of airiness to the landscape with its tall canopy that moves in the wind. The green leaves of spring and summer turn warm yellow in the fall. It features salmon-cream to brownish bark which exfoliates to reveal a creamy white inner bark, providing wonderful winter interest.
Cercidiphylum japonium (Katsura Tree): This deciduous shade tree has a dense, rounded habit and is grown for its beautiful shape, shaggy bark and attractive heart shaped leaves. The color, too, is exceptional. The leaves emerge reddish purple in spring, mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer and turn wonderful shades of gold, orange and red in the fall. The fallen autumn leaves have been varyingly described as smelling of cinnamon, burnt sugar or ripe apples. This unusual shade tree truly has multi-season interest.

Cornus florida and Cornus kousa (Dogwood): Dogwoods are small, understory trees that offer multiple seasons of interest. Cornus florida varieties such as ‘Cherokee Chief’, ‘Cherokee Brave’ and ‘Cherokee Princess’ bloom in early spring before the leaves appear. Cornus kousa varieties such as ‘Milky Way’ flower a month later, after their leaves have appeared. No matter your choice, the deep pink, red and purple tones of the autumn foliage add tone and dimension to the landscape.

Gingko biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ (Maindenhair Tree): This lovely tree has unique fan-shaped green foliage that turns brilliant golden yellow in fall. Its symmetrical branching creates an exceptional upright landscape accent, and it becomes a handsome shade tree with age. Interestingly, it is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth up to 150 million years ago.

Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ (Tupelo): One of the most beautiful native trees of North America, this variety has excellent pyramidal form that displays brilliant, neon red fall color. It is one of the most stunning autumn foliage choices. The new spring growth is orange-red, changing to glossy green as it matures. Winter interest comes from its strong branching structure and dark bark, creating a stunning silhouette.

Prunus (Flowering Cherry): Whether you choose the spectacular show of double flowered pink blossoms on pendulous branches of the Weeping Higan Cherry, or the pure white cloud of delicate flowers of the Yoshino Cherry, or the large ruffled pink flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry, you will have a beautiful spring show. And it is worth noting that the foliage of Cherry trees turns a warm yellow color in autumn.

Stewartia pseudocamellia: This is a small, slow-growing, pyramidal deciduous tree. It has showy cup- shaped flowers with orange-yellow centers, similar in appearance to camellia flowers. The green foliage turns attractive shades of reddish-orange and burgundy in autumn. The bark of the Stewartia is extraordinary. It exfoliates, showing colors of reddish-brown, grey and orange, providing winter color, texture and interest.

The Value of Evergreens: New England has a rich and beautiful community of conifers and evergreen plants which provide welcome color and structure in the garden in the depths of winter. They offer sculptural and architectural qualities and serve as the backdrop to other plantings. In addition, they offer protection for birds. One of winter’s joys is to watch the activity at a birdfeeder placed near a conifer, as the birds alternately perch on the branches and swing over to the feeder. Bird baths and pieces of sculpture also offer points of interest in the winter landscape.

 

Perennials:

There are a surprising number of perennials that bloom into the fall season. Here are a few to consider.
Aconitum (Monk’s Hood)
Amsonia hubrectii
Anemone (Japanese Anemone) ‘Honorine Jobert’, ‘September Charm’
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago)
Chelone (Turtlehead)
Geranium ‘Rozanne’
Heuchera
Ornamental Grasses
Sedum
Note: Not all perennials have to be cut back in the fall. Think of the plants that have interesting texture or have seeds that can attract birds to your yard, such as Echinacea (coneflowers), Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan), Sedum, ornamental grasses and sunflowers.

Using Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape

Twenty-five years ago, ornamental grasses were rarely seen in the landscape. As their virtues – low maintenance, drought tolerance, a long season of interest – became more widely known, gardeners began to integrate them into their landscapes. Today they are recognized for bringing qualities of light, line, motion and sound to the garden. They are durable, graceful and versatile. No matter the size or variety, ornamental grass foliage has a unique architectural quality. Strongly linear, yet at the same time pliant and sinuous, grasses add a wonderful sense of motion to the garden. They sway in even the slightest breeze and add a sense of drama in heavy winds. There is a special luminous quality to the foliage and inflorescences (ie. flowers) when the low angle of the autumn and winter sun shines through from behind. Whether you garden in a container, have a small urban lot, a sizeable suburban yard, or a country property, ornamental grasses can help define your space. They can be used as groundcover, as edging along a pathway, as a privacy screen, and as part of mixed perennial and shrub borders. Some are low and clumping, some are arching, and others are more upright. While some bloom in spring, others start blooming in August, and their plumes subtly change color as they age. Grasses can be left in place all winter. Their straw-like colors and interesting textures are attractive to look at and provide food and shelter for birds.
Grasses respond and start to grow based upon temperature. Some grasses will start to grow in early spring when temperatures are still cool and others will wait until the soil is warm and temperatures are more stable. Cool season grass will start to grow early in the spring and may even remain semi- evergreen over the winter. Warm season grasses do not begin to show growth until the weather becomes stable and the soils warm. The previous season’s growth of warm season grasses requires cutting back to 4-6” in the spring. Here are some top performing ornamental grasses in the New England area:

 

Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass)

^ Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ has creamy white and green stripes along the length of its leaves. The foliage grows to 18” but its seed heads reach a majestic 5-6’.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Eldorado’ has distinctive golden and green variegated foliage that grows in a neat clump and reaches a height of 3-5’. The stems have an attractive honey-colored hue. Plumes appear in summer and add a vertical element to a height of 6’. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ was named Perennial Plant of the Year is 2001, the first ornamental grass to be so honored. The green foliage grows in a neat, upright 2’ clump. In early spring, stalks rise to 6’, capped with elongated wheat-colored seed heads. It is undemanding and will tolerate clay and compacted soil conditions. Good looks, long-lasting plumes and undemanding growing requirements – no wonder it is an award winner!

 

 

Carex

Many varieties of Carex make effective ground covers. They also sparkle in containers and mixed plantings. While most ornamental grasses prefer sunny conditions, Carex thrives in shade. It flowers in late spring.

^ Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ has fine blades with narrow green margins and a broad yellow center.

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ grows to a height of 12” in a gently arching form. Its narrow blades are deep- green and have a white striped edge that will brighten a shady area. It spreads slowly via rhizomes.

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Ballet’ is a sport of ‘Ice Dance’ and has wider, creamy-white margins on the blade.

 

 

Festuca

^ Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ has gorgeous blue foliage that grows in a tight clump. It maintains its color throughout winter. It forms spiky mounds that are 10” in height. It thrives in sunny situations and flowers in early summer. It makes a lovely edging along a stone pathway and brings a beautiful blue tone to the garden when planted in groups in the perennial border. Prune any winter damaged foliage, but otherwise do not cut back.

 

Hakonechloa (Hakone Grass)

Hakonechloa adds interesting form and texture to the garden with its graceful, arching habit. It tolerates sun but prefers a shady location to keep its tips from scorching. It is semi-evergreen and will only require cutting back any winter damaged or spent blades. With age, it develops an interesting mounding and cascading shape that seems to flow like a waterfall. It is magical when it sways and rustles in the wind. All in all, a beautiful, elegant grass for the garden.

^ Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ has bright golden foliage. It grows 18-24” tall and spreads slowly by rhizomes to form a ground cover.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ is a variegated form whose golden leaves have intermittent green lines that are most pronounced in shade.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Beni Kaze’ has thin, rich green blades that start to develop red tips in late summer and gradually become increasingly red. When autumn is in full in swing, this grass is a bright blend of deep red, burnt orange and deep gold.

 

Helictotrichon (Blue Oat Grass)

Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Sapphire’ has deep blue foliage that grows in a rounded clump to a height of 2’. Its graceful stems emerge in late spring and are topped with tan, oat-like seed heads. It prefers full sun and is a great small grass for containers.

 

Miscanthus

Miscanthus is perhaps the most recognizable group of ornamental grasses. Miscanthus varieties vary in heights, textures and habit but are often recognized by their upright plumes in late summer and autumn. Many varieties can be used to create privacy screens, given their generally tall, dense nature.

^ Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’ is an upright and colorful grass known for horizontal yellow bands on its foliage. In autumn, reddish, fan-shaped seed heads extend above the 7’ tall foliage. It grows in a strongly upright fashion. It makes a beautiful and unique statement in the garden.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ has fine textured, narrow leaves and grows in a compact, rounded shape. Fan-shaped, rose colored flowers rise above the foliage. The leaves turn a beautiful burgundy hue in autumn. At 4’ in height (reaching 5’ with blooms), it is suitable for small spaces, borders and massed plantings.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ is known for its elegant form and narrow, silver-veined foliage that grows in a pleasing symmetrical vase shape. Long stems produce fan-like, reddish plumes held high above the leaves. Flowers turn silvery-white as they mature and the foliage becomes auburn-gold after the first frost. It keeps its shape well into the winter. It grows to a height of 6’, reaching 7’ with its flowers.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is one of the most popular in its genus with finely textured, slender foliage that has a well-defined white variegation along the leaf margin. It grows in a neat, upright, arching form to a height of 4’, reaching 6’ when in bloom. It is an interesting option for those looking to create a “white garden”. It looks good in a mass planting or standing alone as a specimen.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ is considered a classic among ornamental grasses. It features beautiful wide leaves with cream-colored stripes running the length of the deep green blades. It grows in an arching shape to 5’ in height and has red-tinted blooms.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ is similar to ‘Strictus’ with deep green foliage marked by yellow horizontal bands in random patterns. Some leaves may have more stripes than others. Copper-colored flowers appear at the end of tall stalks. It grows in an arching shape, in contrast to the more erect ‘Strictus’. The foliage of ‘Zebrinus’ will reach a height of 7’ and with its blooms, it will reach 8’.

 

Muhlenbergia (Pink Muhly grass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris is a North American native. It can stop traffic when in bloom! It grows in a mound of semi-erect, blue-green foliage to a height of 3’. In fall, billowing pink seed heads form a cotton candy crown. It needs full sun and should be planted at least one month before first frost to allow sufficient time to establish.

 

Panicum (Switchgrass)

Panicum is native to the Prairies of North America. All varieties develop deep, fibrous root systems that help them tolerate poor soil and drought. They have an upright nature that is useful in the garden as a vertical accent to other plantings, or as a screen to enclose an area or hide equipment. Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’ has wide blue leaves and complementary rose-pink seed heads. It grows to a height of 5’ and adds another foot when in bloom.

^ Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is appreciated for its metallic-blue foliage, strong upright habit and its pink-tinted, airy midsummer blooms. It can serve as a colorful backdrop, either as a specimen focal point or grouped in a large mass. It grows to a height of 4’, reaching 5’ when in bloom. Panicum virgatum ‘Hot Rod’ emerges blue-green and quickly shifts to deep red. In fall, the foliage becomes deep purple. Topped with red-purple seeds and graced with an upright stature, it is a wonderful and colorful addition to the landscape.
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ has a dependable upright habit and beautiful blue-green foliage. In early fall, it produces a multitude of cream-colored panicles that reach a height of 5-6’. It makes a stunning vertical accent in the garden. When planted in a group, they add a dynamic structural element. In 2014, ‘Northwind’ became the second ornamental grass to be awarded the Perennial Plant of the Year honor.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ is a spectacular red Switchgrass. Its upright foliage becomes red-tinted during the growing season, ending in dazzling red in autumn. It is drought tolerant, easy to maintain, and provides food and shelter for wildlife. Foliage grows to a height of 3’ and the plant reaches 4’ when in bloom.

 

Pennisetum (Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum grow in a flowing, fountain-like shape and are easily recognized by their bottlebrush plumes. We frequently see varieties with red leaves used in decorative containers and annual beds. While they are not hardy in our winters, there are many varieties, mostly with green foliage, that are strong performers in the New England landscape. They are charming when used as specimen plants and look spectacular when used in sweeping masses.

^Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ is a dwarf variety that grows 2’ tall. It has a lovely fountain-like shape and produces pretty bottlebrush blooms. It is a great edging plant and is also at home in the mixed border.
Pennisetum alopecuroides is a graceful 3’ tall grass with pretty blush-colored bottlebrush plumes that appear in midsummer. The flowers add another foot of height and turn a lovely almond color later in the season. They need full sun and once established, need little care. This grass a very useful in the mixed border and is equally attractive when used in a mass planting.

Even shorter is Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ which forms a 1’ by 1’ clump. When planted in a group, they can serve as a ground cover. As with all Pennisetum, they remain attractive well into winter.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moudry’ forms an upright clump of arching green leaves that reach 2’ tall and 3’ wide. It has bottlebrush spikes of dark purple-black flowers that turn silvery as they dry. The leaves turn bright golden-yellow to orange in the fall.
Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’ has many great qualities: quick to establish; long-lasting pink plumes; upright, deep-green foliage; drought tolerance; and real hardiness. The foliage grows 2.5’ tall with the same lovely fountain-like shape.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head’ has 8” long red bottlebrush plumes that emerge in midsummer. The foliage is dark green and forms a rounded, arching habit. It is attractive in mixed borders and creates a dramatic wave of color when planted in large groupings.

 

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

Schizachyrium scoparium is a North American native. It produces a kaleidoscope of hues in summer that further change color in autumn. It grows in loose clumps that branch out at the top. Summer’s greens, blues and purples turn tones of red and orange in the autumn. Its flowers produce downy, white seeds. The foliage grows to 2’ in height and when in bloom, the plant reaches 3’. Because it develops deep roots and tolerates environments with poor soil, it is useful in covering slopes and in restoration sites. But don’t overlook its potential in the mixed border or in a meadow-inspired landscape.

^ Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ has an upright quality that results from its sturdy, thick stems. It also has lovely color – blue with hints of greens, purples and pinks that change to shades of red and orange in the autumn. It reaches 3’ in height and adds another foot when in bloom.

 

VIDEO LOOK: WHAT’S IN STORE SEPT 14, 2018

We’re ready for Fall! Stop in this weekend to find beautiful mums, cabbage, kale, ornamental peppers and more to spruce up your patio planters and window boxes. Visit our lawn and garden departments to learn how to renovate your lawn with grass seed…. And, don’t miss our fresh trees, shrubs and perennials arriving daily! It’s the best time to shop our collection of Spring Flowering bulbs too!

New: PugsterÂŽ Butterfly Bush

Meet PugsterÂŽ – it’s a whole new look for butterfly bush. This compact plant reaches just 2′ tall and wide but has the large, full flowers normally seen on a much larger plant. Available in vivid blue, periwinkle, white, or amethyst, Pugster blooms non-stop from early summer through frost. Thanks to thick, sturdy stems, the PugsterÂŽ series offers vastly improved hardiness and winter survival over other types of dwarf butterfly bushes.

Video Look: What’s In Store July 12, 2018

We’re bringing in fresh plants daily! Find our Mahoney’s Grown Perennials and Annuals in-bloom now with many sun-loving varieties that do great in the summer heat. Our hydrangea selection is unbeatable with fresh mopheads, paniculatas and more in our nurseries! Looking to spruce up the indoors? Our houseplant selection is always stocked with your favorites. Visit our lawn and garden departments for expert advice and solutions for your summer garden too!

Summer Bloomers

There are many ways to keep color in the garden even after the glorious days and exuberant flowering display of June. Like late-blooming teenagers, there are plants that come into their own after others have made their statement. They extend the joy of being in the garden into July, August and September, offering color and texture. And many late season bloomers are also magnets for pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Here are some perennials and shrubs that are worthy garden contributors later in the season.

 

PERENNIALS

Anemone hupehensis (Wandflower): The flowers of this perennial are suspended well above a tidy mound of rich green foliage. They wave in the wind and when backlit by the sun, make a beautiful scene. ‘September Charm’ has rose-pink flowers with yellow centers. ‘Honorine Jobert’ has ethereal white flowers.

Aster divaricatus (Wood Aster): The delicate, airy clouds of wood aster begin to bloom in late summer. Small, daisy-like flowers with yellow to red centers are carried above dark green to black stems. It grows 1.5-2.5’ tall in filtered to full shade. It is available in white, pink or purple varieties. Native to the open woods of the eastern United States, it is attractive to butterflies.

Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster): The rich colors of this aster range from blue-purple to lavender-pink, with yellow-orange centers. The blooms are large and showy. They provide a critical fall nectar source for pollinators, especially Monarch butterflies as they stock up for their fall migration to Mexico.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Blue Plumbago): This is a beautiful spreading, low-growing groundcover that reaches just 8-12” in height. What a treat when deep blue flowers appear in late summer! And as fall approaches, its shiny green foliage turns a beautiful bronze-red color.

^^ Coreopsis grandiflora (Large Flowered Tickseed): Count on any of the Coreopsis varieties to provide warm yellow tones to the garden. There are many varieties available, all offering daisy-like flowers. They are deer resistant and attractive to pollinators. They offer a long period of bloom, beginning in midsummer and extending into the fall.

Coreopsis verticillata (Thread Leaf Coreopsis): This type of coreopsis has delicate leaves and stems and bears loads of flowers. Many varieties are available. ‘Moonbeam’ has flowers the color of chilled butter. ‘Mercury Rising’ has velvety red flowers with a bright yellow center.

^^ Echinacea (Coneflower): One of the most iconic plants in a late summer New England garden is the purple coneflower with its showy 5” daisy-like pink flowers. It blooms throughout summer on upright stems and typically grows 2-4′ tall. If left standing into the winter, the cones in the center of the flowers will be a food source for birds. Plant breeders now offer us additional color and size choices like yellow and white.

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed): Native to the eastern United States, this plant makes a statement in the garden. Its reddish purple flowers form large, showy heads on 5-6 foot, wine-colored stems. Flowering begins in late August, but the stems and buds are ornamental well before then. Butterflies love it.

^^ Geranium ‘Rozanne’: This hardy geranium was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2008 – and for good reason. It is one of the longest blooming perennials. It has violet-blue flowers with a white eye that begin blooming in early June and continue without deadheading until the end of October. The foliage turns a lovely shade of bronze-red in the fall. Growing 18” tall and 2’-3’ wide, it provides color, texture and mass to a garden bed or foundation planting.

^^ Hemerocallis (Daylilly): There is nothing easier to grow than a daylily. It comes back faithfully every year with gently arching long blades of foliage. In July and August its flowers stand proudly above the foliage. And those flowers are available in a range of colors – yellow, peach, pink, red – with a central eye of contrasting color. There are single flowers, double flowers, and even some flowers whose petals have ruffled edges. A mature clump is a handsome sight.

^^ Heuchera and Heucherella: These plants are wonderful colorful additions to a shady area. While they have tiny bell-shaped flowers on wand-like stems, they are more often grown for the season-long color of their leaves. They come in varieties with unusual foliage colors ranging from yellow to caramel to raspberry red to purple and almost black. They are clump forming plants that thrive in partly sunny to shady situations. They enjoy soil that is rich in organic matter.

^^ Monarda (Beebalm): Monarda is a long-time favorite in the perennial border. Plant breeders have introduced many new varieties that offer new colors, sizes and improved mildew resistance. Plants have sturdy stems and with time will create a nice mass in the perennial border. Showy flowers are complex in their structure and attract all manner of pollinators. And did we mention it is deer resistant?

^^ Ornamental Grasses: This large family of beautiful perennial plants adds texture, color and movement to the garden. They also provide interest in the fall and winter landscape, especially when backlit by morning or afternoon sun. When the flowers of summer are only a memory, you’ll find delight looking out on frosted ornamental grass spikes in the early light of a cold winter’s day. Cut back to the ground in early spring.

^^Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage): This is a lovely shrubby, aromatic perennial with finely dissected silver-green leaves. Interestingly, the plant’s stems are square. It becomes even more interesting in late summer through autumn when tubular pale blue flowers open. When planted in full sun its stems have a nice, upright posture and grow to a height of 3-4’. New varieties are available that have a more compact habit, growing to 2’ in height. Cut the plant back almost to the ground in late winter or very early spring. The whole effect is of a delicate, airy plant that complements everything around it. Perovskia atriplicifolia was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 1995.

^^ Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox): This upright perennial is a classic in the perennial border. It grows in a clump 2-4’ tall and 2’ wide. Its pointed green leaves are held on sturdy, upright stems. But the reason it is so beloved has to do with its fragrant, densely packed, tiered flower clusters that hold court from July into September. A large number of varieties are available in colors including, white, lavender, pink and red, and today’s varieties are resistant to powdery mildew which troubled older varieties. ‘David’ is a beautiful white variety which glows in the evening light. ‘Bright Eyes’ has lovely pink flowers with a ruby colored center. While you are enjoying the flowers, don’t be surprised to see the butterflies and even hummingbirds doing so as well!

^^ Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant): You may be familiar with the lavender flowers of Physostegia virginiana. While it may have a tendency to grow beyond its bounds, ‘Miss Manners’ forms a clump of well-behaved deep green foliage topped with fresh white flowers. It grows to a height of 18-24” and a similar spread. It adds a crisp and refreshing late-season element to the perennial border.

^^ Rudbeckia fulgida (Black Eyed Susan): One of the most frequently planted Rudbeckia is a variety called ‘Goldsturm’. It has showy dark golden-yellow flowers with black centers, and bloooms from July into mid-October. Growing 24” tall, it tolerates a wide range of conditions and if happy, will multiply readily. It was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 1999. It happens to be a favorite of goldfinches who love its seeds.

Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’: This is a taller growing Rudbeckia that looks fabulous at the back of the perennial border. Slender branching stems hold bright green, toothed leaves. It has bright yellow daisylike flower petals that bend down from a large green cone. Despite its height of 4-6’, it needs no staking. If left to stand for the winter, it is a good food source for birds.

^^ Sedum (Stonecrop): Whether in groundcover form or taller upright versions, every garden should have some Sedum. Perhaps most familiar is the 24” tall ‘Autumn Joy’ with its blue-green foliage and large heads of delicate bright-pink flowers that age into a beautiful copper color as fall approaches. Similar varieties include ‘Brilliant’ which has hot pink flowers, and ‘Autumn Fire’ whose flowers deepen to bronze-red. These easy and reliable plants pair well with ornamental grasses, asters and many other perennials. Also of great use in the landscape are low growing sedums which can serve as decorative ground covers, and fill crevices in rock walls or spaces between stones in a pathway. Their leaves come in a variety of colors and shapes, and their flowers are often vivid tones of yellow, pink or red.

SHRUBS

^^ Buddleia (Butterfly Bush): The colorful and fragrant flowers attract flocks of butterflies and hummingbirds. But fortunately, not deer! Arching branches bear long panicles of sweet smelling flowers in late summer. Pink, white, or purple flowered varieties are available. Whether you choose a variety that will grow 5 or more feet tall, or a more compact variety, these shrubs should be pruned back hard in spring.

Caryopteris (Bluebeard or Blue Mist): This small shrub is adored by butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. The entire plant will quiver with their activity! The feathery blue flower clusters cover the plant in late summer and into the fall. Its silvery grey foliage is pleasantly aromatic when brushed by your hand. It should be hard pruned in early spring in order to encourage strong new growth. It will easily grow 2-3’ high in a season.

Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet): One of our native shrubs, Clethra is prized for its fragrant late summer flowers (hence its common name, Summersweet) and glossy green foliage which turns a beautiful yellow in the fall. A magnet for butterflies, it grows in full sun or part shade and will tolerate a damp site. ‘Ruby Spice’ grows 4-6’ in height and has deep reddish-pink flowers. ‘Hummingbird’ has a more dwarf, mounded habit. It grows to 3’ in height and bears white flowers.

Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon): It is hard to resist the brightly colored, exotic looking flowers of this hardy, deer resistant shrub. Flowers can be single or double and come in white, pink or blue-purple colors. Most varieties grow 8-10’ tall and 6’ wide, but can be pruned in early spring to control size and shape. Some varieties are also available in tree form.

^^ Hydrangea: No garden is complete without Hydrangea. Whether you choose Hydrangea macrophylla with its beautiful blue mop head flowers or its lace cap varieties; Hydrangea paniculata with its color changing cone-shaped flowers; Hydrangea arborescens with its shade-loving white mop head flowers; or Hydrangea serrata whose classic lace cap flowers have showy sterile florets forming an outer ring around the center of tiny fertile florets, you will be grateful for their presence in your garden.

Hypericum (St. John’s Wort): Another deer resistant shrub, Hypericum is a mounding shrub with bluegreen foliage. Growing to 3’ in height and spread, it has bright, golden yellow flowers in midsummer that are loved by butterflies. Flowers are followed by rich red berries that are often used in autumn floral arrangements. It grows in full sun to part shade.

Itea (Sweetspire): This is a lovely deer resistant native shrub that produces loads of long, white flowers that remain attractive through late summer. It is a compact, rounded shrub with gently arching branches. Its bright green leaves have wonderful fall color, turning shades of orange and red. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ grows 4’ tall while ‘Little Henry’ grows just 3’ tall.

The Wondrous World of Hydrangea Paniculata

Everyone loves the beautiful blue mophead hydrangeas – but maybe it’s time to expand your hydrangea horizons. Panicle hydrangeas have wonderfully large, lush pyramidal flowers that provide color and texture for an amazingly long period of time.

Panicle hydrangeas are super easy, reliable, and very hardy. You will be guaranteed flowers each and every summer because the flower buds are formed in late spring on new growth, thereby avoiding the frosts that can damage buds. They adapt to a variety of light levels, from full sun to partial shade and even the shade of a north facing garden.

Panicle hydrangeas offer a very long season of bloom beginning in June and lasting until winter sets in. Say goodbye to that feeling that there is nothing in bloom in the late summer and fall! The cone-shaped flowers are often 12” tall and sometimes taller. Another lovely feature of these hydrangeas is the flower’s ability to subtly change color over its many months of bloom. What begins as a lovely creamy white flower will morph into varying shades of pink, and, with some varieties, even deep pink-red by season’s end. They are shallow-rooted plants that benefit from a 2-3″ layer of compost or mulch. Planted in healthy, organic-rich soil, they require no fertilizer to produce lots of blooms.

They flower true to color so there is no need for soil additives. Pruning is not necessary, especially if you choose a variety whose size is appropriate to your needs. In time, if you wish to contain the plant’s size, you can prune in late winter or very early spring. Come explore the world of panicle hydrangeas. Here are some of our favorite varieties:

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bobo’

Considered one of the smaller paniculatas, ‘Bobo’ grows 3’ tall and 3-4’ wide. But don’t be fooled by its diminutive stature. ‘Bobo’ in full bloom is a spectacular sight. This hydrangea will be absolutely engulfed in large, bright white flowers. It can be hard to see the leaves for all its flowers! The flowers are held upright on strong stems, and continue to grow and lengthen as they bloom. By season’s end, the flowers take on a lovely soft shade of pink.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Fire Light’

This hydrangea is truly beautiful in a border or foundation planting. Its flowers open a pure white, gradually turn pink, and finish the season a rich pomegranate-red color. The 12-16” flowers are held on thick, sturdy stems. ‘Fire Light’ grows 5-6’ tall.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

When you see the creamy lime-green flower panicles begin to open, you will understand how ‘Limelight’ got its name. The lime green flowers slowly transform into a soft, antique rose pink over a long season of bloom. The shrub is upright in form and reaches a height of 7-8’. It makes a beautiful specimen plant in the border, and a hedge of ‘Limelight’ lining a driveway is a sight to behold.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’

 

As the name suggests, this is a compact version of ‘Limelight’. It has the same mid-summer creamy limegreen flowers on a shrub that grows 3-5’ tall.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Quick Fire’

This is the earliest blooming of the panicle hydrangeas, and that is saying something! What begins as a lovely creamy white flower morphs into shades of pink – first soft pink, then medium pink, ending the season in tones of pink-red. Another interesting feature of this panicle hydrangea is its stem color. Red toned stems of summer become mahogany colored in winter, adding a rich texture to the landscape. ‘Quick Fire’ will reach 6-7’ in height.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Quick Fire’

If your landscape can’t accommodate the size of ‘Quick Fire’ but you still want to enjoy its beauty, ‘Little Quick Fire’ is for you. Growing just 3-5’ tall, it has the same early bloom time, exquisite flowers, and great stem color. It’s all there, just in a smaller package.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanilla Strawberry’

The flowers of this variety begin their colorful journey as pale green before changing to luscious creamy white and then darkening through all stages of pink into rosy-red. New blooms emerge as older blooms change color, giving the plant a multicolored effect. Growing 6-7’ feet tall, the branches will gently arch under the weight of its flowers.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Strawberry Sundae’

Growing 4-5’ tall and 3-4’ wide, this compact plant is similar to ‘Vanilla Strawberry’. The flowers are numerous and have the same multicolored effect. It brings a sense of excitement to the smaller landscape.

 

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Zinfin Doll’

The flowers of this new introduction produce an amazing multi-color display. Its dense panicles of creamy white blossoms blush pink from the base upward and gradually darken to rich raspberry pink. The deep green foliage provides a perfect backdrop for this exuberant floral display. Sturdy, upright stems will grow to a height of 6-8’.