It’s always a good day for the team when we can take a minute to talk about some of our favorite plants. Fall is a fantastic time to plant, and an even better time to admire the landscape. We put pen to paper and came up with a few of our favorite Autumn plants. If you don’t see yours let us know, we love to know what you are planting!
• American Dogwood- Native tree with fantastic red fall color and interesting fruit set.
• Annual Mums- Everybody’s favorite fall flower that come in a wide range of colors and shapes.
• Japanese Anemone- Long blooming, deer resistant, clumping perennial at home in sun or shade.
• Little Quick Fire Hydrangea- the best fall foliage color of any panicled hydrangea, with long-lasting blooms persisting through the fall.
• Ivory Halo Red Twig Dogwood- Bright variegated foliage gives way to yellow fall color and blood-red branches in late fall and winter.
• Fothergilla- Unbelievable fall foliage display, showcasing the full palate of fall color- orange, red, yellow, and even purple hues in sun or shade.
• Montauk Daisy- Long fall-blooming daisy that stands up to salt spray, heat, and tight planting conditions in a cottage garden setting.
• Red Sprite Winterberry- the dwarf cultivar to have among an old-time Van Wilgen’s favorite plant. Large glossy red berries come out in fall and last well after the foliage has turned bright yellow and fallen off.
• New England Aster- Purple or pink flowers emerge in early September and brighten up any garden border
• Tree form Limelight Hydrangea- The only choice for a dwarf foundation tree with blooms that continue to be stunning through the fall.
• Itea- Deep red and even purplish tones emerge in the fall, helping this native shrub stand out in the woodland border.
• Sedum- Huge, almost broccoli-like flower heads that bloom from August to October are the favorite choice of bees and pollinators in the fall.
• Ornamental Grasses- The star of the fall landscape, with so many great colors and styles that we could devote a whole list just to them.
• Black-Eyed Susan- Classic native perennial that provides non-stop yellow blooms from late summer to mid-fall.
Every spring our gardeners tell us they want to expand their perennial gardens to offer new colors and plants to make them fresh. For those of us that work in the Perennial department, it’s no different. We are always on the lookout for something different or even ‘new to us’. Here are a few Perennials that we think are a must-have in the garden to give you season-long color and interest.
Silene – Early spring bloom of pink on low mounding thick green leaves. Cut back by half after the first flush of flowers wanes in June, to encourage repeat blooming. Attractive to butterflies
Panicum ‘Northwind’- Wow! An unequivocally upright steel blue panicum. ! Wide, thick leaf blades a golden yellow color in the fall, topped in September with attractive narrow plumes.
Veronica Venice Blue – Gorgeous blue spikes of color late spring to mid-summer. Features large, deep blue flowers in spring over bright green, toothy leaves. Benefits from a good hard trim after flowers are finished, in order to maintain a nice tight habit.
Standing Ovation Little Bluestem- A warm-season grass that does well in poor, dry soils. Spikey bluish-green stems and leaves transition to a sizzling display of oranges, reds, yellows, and purplish-browns in the autumn. Also provides winter interest before cutting back in early spring to make way for new growth.
Oenothera Fireworks- Deep bronze foliage and red stems are contrasted by red buds opening to canary yellow blooms in June. The individual flowers may not last for more than a day or two, but they open in succession leaving the plant in continuous bloom. Burgundy rosettes in winter.
Heliopsis Burning Heart – Dynamic yellow-orange flowers are offset by their deep purple foliage. As attractive to butterflies and bees as it is to people, we’ve found this plant really deserves a place in a beautiful border, a cutting garden, or in massed swathes. She stands 4’ tall with dark red-purple foliage and abundant contrasting yellow daisy-like flowers with orange centers. The plant begins blooming in its first year and blooms from June to mid-October.
Echinacea Adobe Orange – Carefree color from a profusion of bright orange blooms that will add excitement to the summer garden. A must-have for sunny beds and borders. Drought tolerant and bred for cold hardiness and compact form with prolific flowering over an exceptionally long season.
Monarda Jacob Cline – Whorls of scarlet red tubular flowers blend perfectly with prairie wildflowers and herbs. Single plants make a great show, but groups heighten the effect. Dark green leaves have an aroma of mint and basil. Hummingbirds love it!
Let’s face facts- there are way too many great ornamental grasses to hope to limit yourself to one type. Panicum, bluestems, miscanthus, Pennisetum- the list goes on and on. But after you’ve gone crazy and put sixteen of every type in your yard, how the heck do you tell them apart? It’s actually easier than you’d think.
Pennisetum, or the fountain grasses, have a classic, bottlebrush seed head that almost looks like a rabbit’s foot or pipe cleaner. As an added bonus, these will produce a seed head earlier than any other large growing ornamental grass.
Panicum, or switchgrass, is one of our native grasses. Its seed head is airy, loose, and almost transparent until you’re close by. Fun fact- One of the most popular varieties, Ruby Ribbons, was bred at UConn and features a great mix of purple and green colors to the grass.
Bluestems fall into two pretty self-explanatory categories- the dwarf little bluestem and the larger growing big bluestem. Both produce a long, wiry seed head that opens sporadically down the line while having the added benefit of being one of the only grasses to have vibrant purple to red fall color after the first frost.
Miscanthus, or maiden grasses, are often referred to as Zebra grasses, as many cultivars have a distinctive yellow stripe either horizontally or vertically along the grass. The seed heads have a braided texture and bright golden color that sways in the wind.
Muhly grass is the most unique of the bunch. Our current favorite, “Fast Forward,” has bright pink seed heads, but any and all varieties will produce a unique seed head that resembles a thick cloud of smoke and holds onto morning dew to create a shimmering show at sunup every day.
There’s no doubt that hydrangeas can hold their own in the garden. With big colorful blooms and beautiful green foliage, summer’s favorite flower makes a bold statement in any garden.
But, why not pair them with delicate foliage, bold flowers or subtle ornamental grasses for more variety? If you’re looking for ways to make your hydrangeas pop even more, try these companion planting tips.
When planting hydrangeas, be sure to use Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier for best results.
It’s hard to go wrong when choosing a color for companion plants. Try pairing hydrangeas with foliage in different hues of the same color. This adds subtle dimension and almost creates a 3-D effect in the garden.
If your hydrangeas are pink, pair them with Rose Glow Barberry shrubs. The deep pink and purple foliage emphasizes the pastel pink flowers and contrasts perfectly with the green leaves. Try planting Blue Star Juniper alongside blue hydrangeas for a beautiful display. This low-maintenance shrub provides beautiful bluish-green foliage that complements any blue flowering plants.
When planting flowers with flowers, timing is everything. Be sure to choose a summer-blooming flower that will blossom around the same time as your hydrangea. You can choose to plant similar hues or bright contrasting colors. If you’re looking to create a dramatic contrast in the garden, choose a flower that comes in a variety of colors.
Begonias and geraniums are beautiful flowers that come in many different shades, making them a perfect companion for hydrangeas. Create a colorful rainbow garden by pairing blue hydrangeas with pink geraniums or white hydrangeas with scarlet begonias.
If you want the focus of your garden to be mainly on hydrangeas, opt for more subtle ornamental grasses that simply enhance their beauty. Most ornamental grasses are low-maintenance and easy to grow, giving you more time to spend perfecting your hydrangeas.
Fountain grass is one of our favorites because it provides pretty feathered plumes that dance in the wind. Green and yellow Japanese forest grass also complement hydrangeas very nicely.
Let us know what you’ll be planting with your hydrangeas this summer!