Decorating your winter window box


Brought to you by our friends at Proven Winners, here’s a great tutorial on how to arrange your winter planters! Please visit us to find all the fresh (and life-like!) greens, decorative berries, twigs, and sprays to make your outdoor presentation festive this holiday season! While our assortment of greens may vary from the video, you can easily find cedar, firs, white pine and much more!

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.

Featured Perennial: Coreopsis Leading Lady Series

The Leading Lady Series of Coreopsis offers an early and long blooming season from June through September. They grow 18”-24” high and form a mound 12”-15” wide. They come through cold winters to perform well in hot summers, showing good mildew resistance. Movie buffs will love the fun naming convention!  ‘Sophia’, named after Sophia Loren, covers herself with large, showy, tubular yellow blossoms. ‘Charlize’, after Charlize Theron, has large, frilly, soft yellow double blooms. ‘Lauren’, after Lauren Bacall, has masses of large, single yellow flowers.

Now in bud and bloom: Lilacs

The fragrance of lilac is often associated with feelings of “home” or other pleasant memories. We seem able to remember the fragrance even decades later. The clusters of fragrant flowers that adorn the lilac bush in mid to late spring mean that summer is just around the corner.  

Lilac is easily grown in well-drained soil. It will bloom its best in full sun conditions. Choose a location that allows for good air circulation to minimize the potential for mildew on the leaves. Prompt removal of faded flower panicles will help increase the bloom count for the following year. This is also the best time to prune to control the size of the plant, if that is necessary. Pruning is best done by the first week in July. After this time, the plant will be setting next year’s flower buds and pruning will sacrifice next year’s flower show. 

Planting a lilac near the house means that the heady fragrance can waft through open windows. Planted as a hedge, they make an effective, not to mention fragrant, screen. As part of a mixed border planting, they mix beautifully with roses and peonies.  

As a cut flower, they are a delight. Fill a vase with cool water. Using a sharp pair of hand pruners, cut when the lilac panicle (the entire cluster of flowers) is one-quarter to one-half open. Use your pruners to split the stem a couple of inches up the center to allow the stem to take up water. It is not necessary to crush the stem. Crushing the stem will not help the lilac take up water.   

 

Syringa meyeri Palabin 

Also known as Dwarf Korean Lilac, ‘Palabin’ is smaller, denser and more rounded in its habit than traditional lilacs. It typically grows 4’-5’ feet tall and 5’-7’ wide, making it suitable for small gardens. It has very fragrant purple flowers. They are arranged in 4” clusters that are perfectly scaled to the shrub. This variety is particularly resistant to powdery mildew.  

Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’ 

‘Miss Kim’ is a compact, upright variety which grows 4’-7′ tall with a similar spread. It has deep purple buds that open to reveal clusters of 3” long, highly fragrant, lavender blue flowers. The flowers bloom slightly later than other lilacs, extending that heavenly season of lilac fragrance. Leaves are very resistant to powdery mildew. They are burgundy tinged in the fall, adding to this shrub’s appeal.  

Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ (Chinese tree lilac) 

Syringa vulgaris ‘Ivory Silk’ is a small tree or large shrub which grows 20’ tall with a rounded crown.  It has beautiful 12” long, creamy white, fragrant flowers with a captivating fragrance. Blooming later than most other species of lilac, its beautiful show takes place in late May and into the summer.  Its beauty is enhanced by rich green foliage and attractive reddish brown bark. ‘Ivory Silk’ is lovely as a specimen tree in the landscape. It can also be used in the mixed border.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ 

Hybridized by the famous French plantsman, Victor Lemoine, in 1896, ‘Charles Joly’ has deep reddish-purple, double flowers that are extremely fragrant. Heart shaped green leaves on upright branches contribute to this handsome shrub. It matures to a height of 10’-12’. An outstanding variety, it was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Krasavitsa Moscovy’ 

Perhaps the name of this shrub merits some explanation. Syringa is Latin for lilac and vulgaris is the Latin word meaning “of the common people, commonplace, shared by all”. So this is where the familiar term ‘common lilac’ comes from.  The variety name, ‘Krasavitsa Moscovy’ translates from the Russian to ‘Beauty of Moscow’ or ‘Pride of Moscow’ and refers to the fact it was hybridized in Russia. It dates to 1943. 

A beautiful and very fragrant variety, it has pale pink buds that open to form double white florets, blushed pink at the edges. The flowers are up to 9” long. It is stunning in full bloom. It matures over time to 8’-12’ tall by 6’-7’ wide. Like all common lilacs, it can be pruned immediately after flowering to contain its size.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ 

Lilac ‘French Ludwig Spaeth’

‘Ludwig Spaeth’ offers a display of beautiful, heavily fragrant, dark purple blooms that open from elegant violet flower buds. The flower clusters are up to 12” long. The foliage is bluish-green in color and heart shaped. Useful in the mixed border or in mass plantings, it will grow 8’-10’ in height and 6’-8’ in width.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Madame Lemoine’ 

‘Madame Lemoine’ is an heirloom French lilac that has dense panicles of marvelously fragrant, double white flowers that open from creamy-white buds. The foliage is heart shaped in form and medium green in color. It grows up to 15’ in height and 12’ in width. This variety was hybridized by the famed French horticulturalist, Victor Lemoine, and named for his wife.  

Syringa vulgaris ‘Monge’ 

Lilac ‘Monge’

Another of Victor Lemoine’s introductions, ‘Monge’ has a depth of color that is striking. The flowers are deep reddish purple and richly fragrant. The flower panicles are up to 9” long and produced in abundance. It’s a dramatic and beautiful sight in the garden. A few branches cut for the house will fill the room with an enchanting fragrance. ‘Monge’ typically matures over time to a height of 8’-12’ and a similar width.  

Syringa vulgaris ’Sensation’ 

‘Sensation’ is unusual in that its flowers are bi-colored. The clusters of blooms are composed of individual purple flowers, each edged in white. They are sweetly fragrant. The effect is charming. Rich green foliage is held on upright branches. In time it reaches a height of 10’-12’ and a width of 6’. ‘Sensation’ will be a sensation in your garden.  

 

Reblooming Lilacs 

In recent years plant breeders have developed lilacs with the ability to rebloom. After the first flush of springtime bloom, these lilacs take a rest in the heat of summer before flowering again later in the summer and into the fall. The second bloom cycle is not as heavy as the first, but it is still showy. Pruning immediately after the spring bloom will create a fuller shrub with more branches and encourage more flowers. These lilacs display good mildew resistance. Their compact size allows them to fit into smaller landscapes and they make a nice addition to perennial beds, mixed borders and foundation plantings.  The Bloomerang series have large and fragrant flower clusters displayed on a dense and branching shrub which is perfectly sized for the small garden. 

Syringa x ‘Bloomerang Purple’ 

Clusters of lilac purple, sweetly scented flowers cover the branches in spring and continue off and on until frost. It grows 4’-5’ in height and width, making it suitable for small spaces. It is a nice addition to the mixed border and can be used to create a fragrant, low hedge. 

Syringa x ‘Bloomerang Dark Purple’ 

‘Bloomerang Dark Purple’ is slightly larger than others in the series, reaching 6’ in height and width. Its flower clusters are larger and more rounded in form. It has striking deep purple buds which open to classic deep lavender purple flowers. 

Syringa x  Bloomerang Pink Perfume’ 

This latest addition to the Bloomerang series has the same multi-season flower show, only this time in pink. Its dainty spikes of reddish purple buds open to fragrant, soft pink flowers in May. After the first heavy flush of flowers, it takes a short rest, flowering again intermittently until fall. Compact and rounded in shape, it grows 4’-5’ tall and wide. 

Syringa x hyacinthiflora  

Varieties of Syringa x hyacinthiflora are early blooming lilacs, often flowering up to 2 weeks before Syringa vulgaris varieties. They are known for their exceptional fragrance. They were developed as crosses between the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, and the hardy northern Chinese native, Syringa oblata.  

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Angel White’ 

‘White Angel’ has spectacular clusters of fragrant pure white flowers. It has an open-branched, upright form which makes a great hedge, screen or accent plant. It reaches a height of 12’ and a width of 10’. 

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Declaration’  

Introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum, this outstanding cultivar has large, dramatic clusters of deep reddish-purple blooms that can be 8”-12” in length. It has the wonderful fragrance of the hyacinthiflora hybrids. Maturing at 6’-8’ tall and 5’-6’ wide, it is smaller than traditional lilacs, making it perfect for growing near a patio or in a mixed bed. 

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Mount Baker’ 

Lilac ‘Mount Baker’

‘Mt. Baker’ has intensely fragrant white blossoms in spring. Growing 10’-12’ high and wide, it retains branches close to the ground, giving it a full appearance. The foliage has strong resistance to mildew and remains attractive over a long season.  

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Pocahontas’ 

Lilac ‘Pocahontas’

A profuse and early bloomer, ‘Pocahontas’ features deep violet purple buds that open to fragrant, rich violet flowers. It is an upright and multi-stemmed plant that reaches 10’ tall and wide. The spring and summer foliage is a rich deep green that takes on bronzy red tones in the fall.  

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Purple Glory’ 

‘Purple Glory’ has luxuriant deep purple flowers that are wonderfully fragrant. There is a heavy bloom set even on young plants. New leaves will emerge in spring with a purple blue blush, and in fall these purple highlights return. Dense foliage fills branches low to the ground. Growing 12’ tall and 8’ wide, it makes an attractive specimen plant and can also be massed in a hedge or screen. 

Syringa x ‘Tinkerbelle’ 

‘Tinkerbelle’ is a cross between 3 types of lilac, creating a compact, upright shrub that typically grows 4’-6’ tall and wide. It has lovely wine-colored buds that open to large, sweetly fragrant, pale pink flowers.  

A Blooming Valentine

Our greenhouses are filled with beautiful blooms that make the perfect gift for yourself or your Valentine. Flowering plants will last longer than your cut flowers, and serve as a reminder that even though it is still Winter, Spring really is just around the corner. Please note, supplies and selection will vary at each Mahoney’s location.