What's Hot- September/October 2005

September 29, 2005
Written by Lorraine Hunter
High Impact, Low Care Perennials

“I love my garden but I don’t want to be a slave to it,” writes Tracy DiSabato-Aust in the September-October 2005 issue of Fine Gardening. The well-known garden designer/ writer echoes the theme for what’s hot in consumer gardening magazines this fall – low maintenance perennials that make a big statement.

Some of DiSabato-Aust’s recommendations include: variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegtum’), hardy to Zone 3, a terrific shade plant with soft green leaves edged in white on 2-to-3 foot tall stems; Korean angelica (Angelica gigas), Zone 4, a big bold biennial that grows 2-to-3 feet wide with stems 2-to-6 feet tall and luscious red-purple flowers in July and August of its second year; giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima), Zone 4, with large blue-green leaves, yellow ray flowers and prominent brown seed heads that often persist into winter; ‘Rozeanne’ geranium, Zone 4, flowering from late spring until fall without deadheading – a gardener’s dream; and Rocky Mountain fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica ‘Compacta’), Zone 5 to 6, a.k.a. corkbark fir, an intermediate conifer growing only  6-to-10 feet tall, with soft blue-green needles.

In Gardening Life, August/September 2005, Marjorie Harris shines the light on perennial performers unjustly ignored in recent years. Her list of easy-to-grow unsung heroes that merit more attention includes: bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata), Zone 5, with pink to white flowers in early summer on strong, upright stems; stinking iris (Iris foetidissima), Zone 6, with pale purple flowers in early summer and large seedpods that burst open in fall to show off striking red seeds (and only stink when crushed); knautia (Knautia macedonica), Zone 5, with dramatic, velvety maroon, pincushion-like blossoms; sea holly (Eryngium giganteum), Zone 5, an excellent plant for a garden prone to drought; willow blue star (Amsonia tabernaemontana), Zone 4, a North American native with subtle blue flowers that appear in May; and Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica), Zone 5, with winter protection, another woodland native to eastern North America, with startling scarlet and yellow tubular blooms, highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Canadian Gardening, September 2005, profiles bittersweet (Celastrus spp.), a fast-growing, twining perennial vine with showy, long-lasting orange-red berries, often used in dried arrangements and wreaths. The most commonly grown ornamental species are American bittersweet (C. scandens) and oriental bittersweet (C. orbiculatus), both hardy to Zone 3.
The same CG issue features Japanese anemones as a sure way of bringing colour to the fall garden. Some of these recommended as having received the Award of Garden Merit from Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society include: A. Hupehensis ‘Hadspen Abundance’ with single deep pink flowers; burgundy A. H. var japonica ‘Bodnant Burgundy’; A. x H. ‘Honorine Jobert’ with large single white blooms flushed with pink; the semi-double bright pink bloomed A. x. H. ‘Konigin Charlotte’ (a.k.a. Queen Charlotte); and A. x H. ‘September Charm’ with single, silvery pink blossoms and dark pink undersides.

Japanese anemones along with pink and white turtlehead (Chelone obliqua and C. glabra) are also featured as late bloomers in Canadian Living, September 2005.

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