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Archive for January, 2011

Low Growing Hedge Plant – Blue Chip Butterfly Bush

Keep people on defined pathways and let the butterflies do the greeting!

If you want to prevent people from walking through your landscape and/or keep them on a defined pathway  you want a low growing hedge plant like Buddleia Blue Chip.

Blue Chip Buddleia is a hedge plant with a non-hedge look with its long flowering blooms that start in mid-summer and last well into fall with no need to deadhead or prune.

Buddleia Blue Chip is a compact deciduous shrub that grows about 30” tall by 24” wide with fragrant re blooming blue flowers that beckon butterflies & hummingbirds. This cold hardy flowering shrub is a new miniature butterfly bush that works well in a narrow spot.

This planting is near the office  entry at Spring Meadow Nursery.  How nice it must be walking to and from work and being greeted by hordes of butterflies!

Benefits of  Blue Chip (Lo & Behold) Buddleia:

  • Create a  hedge plant barrier that prevents people from walking through your landscape
  • Highly versatile flowering shrub
  • Tolerant of road salts
  • Highly deer proof
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Easy Care
  • Cold hardy to Zone 5

Butterflies swarm to the enticing fragrance of Buddleia

Whether your are defining a pathway, screening out undesirable views, it is hard to beat the overall beauty and  one time investment of easy to grow Buddleia Blue Chip

What a great way to great summer guests and keep them on a defined pathway to your office or your home.


Where to buy

10 Expert Gardening Tips on Growing Hakonechloa – The Most Elegant Shade Groundcover Ever!

Hakonechloa Aureola - the most elegant shade groundcover ever!

Hakonechloa produces a gorgeous mound of narrow, arching leaves  that is useful for bringing bright color to the shade garden. It has a graceful, almost tropical like habit and is considered by some to be one of the most stunning groundcovers for the shade garden. Two of the more popular varieties include  bright gold leaf All Gold and Aureola which has gold leaves with stripes of bright green.

I’ve known gardeners that have been  successful with growing Hakonechloa and others who struggle growing this shade loving groundcover.  Essentially, this is a slow growing shade perennial that takes more than a couple of years to become mature.

Design Tips

Hakonechloa works well in so many shade settings as a foliage plant. Use it singly, in containers, or mass as a ground cover in front of a shady border.  For inspiring design ideas & photography check out  Design Ideas with Hakonechloa –Elegant Shade Ground Cover. Since you get 3 seasons of foliage color it combines terrific with various colors of Heuchera.

1o Tips on Growing the most beautiful Hakonechloa ever!

1)     Soil. It thrives in a rich, somewhat acidic soil in well drained site. If you give them average soil, they will be small to average in size.

2)     Planting. Dig a hole 3 times the height & width of your container and fill in with good organic matter.  Take the time to do this because it will make a difference

3)    Exposure. Full sun to part shade.  Hakonechloa grows well in full sun (in the north anyway) Protect from the hot afternoon sun.

4)    Water. Hakonechloa require lots of moisture. Water frequently the first year. If you have an irrigation system – terrific.

5)    Keep away from tree roots. Best to plant near but not directly under trees or large shrubs. Depending on the type, tree & shrub roots are moisture & nutrient robbers.  Plants often will stay small and often struggle if competing with neighboring roots.

6)    Keep roots cool. Plant in a location where they will receive shade during the hottest part of the day.   Use 3” of mulch after planting to keep roots cool until plants become established.

7)   Feeding. Use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote according to package directions.

8)    Don’t cut back in the fall. If you are in a northern climate, wait until spring to either cut back or rake away previous year’s growth.

9)    Winter protection. My friend, Barb is a landscape designer in Minnesota (Zone 4) and use LOTS of Hakonechloa is in her garden design.  She uses pine boughs as a winter mulch. She has always been successful overwintering these plants.

10)   Planting & Spacing. I’ll often space Hakonechloa closer than other groundcovers (8-10” apart).  That way they fill in faster.  Plant in the spring so roots can establish themselves and be patient.

Container Growing

My friend Jayne, grows Hakonechloa in containers in her Zone 4 garden.  Here are her tips for container growing:

  • Use drip irrigation  (keeps the plants  evenly moist)
  • Slow Release liquid feed
  • Replace soil every 2 years
  • Bury the pots & cover with pine boughs for the winter

Growing Hakonechloa is a bit like reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  It is a bit of an undertaking, but don’t  let these proven  growing tips intimidate you from growing this magnificent shade loving groundcover in your perennial garden.

Where to Buy

Design Ideas with Hakonechloa – Elegant Shade Ground Cover

The leaves of Hakonechloa fall nicely in one direction along this shaded pathway

My friend Jayne is gardener in Minnesota  (Zone 4) who has been in LOVE with Hakonechloa and growing it as a shade ground cover for  as long as I can remember. There are few grasses that are both deer proof & elegant yet impart an exotic, almost bamboo look that provides up to 9 months of interest!  The two varieties that we are both pretty fond of are Aureola & All Gold which do a bang up job livening up any shade garden. There is a new variety called Fubuki which I’m anxious to try this year.

Adding blue pottery creates maximum contrast & energy in this small space

Line a Shaded Pathway.  Use Hakone grass along a shaded pathway where  their leaves fall in one direction.  The above picture shows a pleasing shade perennial combination with dark foliage  Actaea or Cimicifuga.

Create Contrast! The narrow foliage of Hakonechloa with the bold, rounded foliage of Hosta makes this combination interesting!

Add blue! Put some quick finishing touches to your garden design by adding blue pottery placed next to your plants.

Create Contrast! The narrow foliage combines elegantly with the bold, rounded foliage of Hostas.

Raise it! This gardener raised this container - to better appreciate the arching leaves!

Raise It! Elevate your containers on the shaded patio or garden where you can appreciate the cascading foliage.

Shaded Entryway.  Place Hakonechloa pots along a shaded patio entryway. This softens the entryway in addition to being more welcoming to guests.

Hakonechloa is a wonderful shade plant to add to the garden. I hope you  enjoyed a few garden design ideas. I’m anxious to hear about yours!

Garden Tip:  Hakonechloa will have a brighter appearance if it receives some morning or filtered sun.

We’ve got more valuable garden tips on how to have success growing Hakonechloa coming next!

The cascading foliage looks elegant & softens this patio entryway

Double Coneflowers – Meet the Breeder!

Arie Blom & Echinacea Hot Papaya

Breeder Arie Blom & his Hot Papaya Coneflower

I’d like to introduce you to the man behind many of the very BEST double-flowered Coneflowers currently in American gardens. He is our very good friend, Arie Blom of The Netherlands. Arie studied advanced plant breeding at the University of Florida and after receiving his graduate degree, he worked in a tissue culture laboratory in California before returning to Holland.

Arie is an extremely friendly guy and is passionate about his breeding work with Echinacea. I’ve had many opportunities to sit down and talk with Arie and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to visit his seedling fields this summer!

Arie began breeding Coneflowers in 2002 and started in his backyard. A few of his initial goals were to breed for very sturdy, vigorous garden plants with a heavy flowering tendancy.

Echinacea Pink Double Delight from Great Garden Plants

Echinacea Pink Double Delight

Echinacea Pink Double Delight was Arie’s very first introduction and he hit it out of the ballpark!

This bright double pink Coneflower has multitudes of large 2-3″ flowers held atop very strong stems that don’t flop in the dirt. Plants are very well branched and produce a flower show from mid-June until September!

Echinacea Coconut Lime from Great Garden Plants

Echinacea Coconut Lime

Arie’s second introduction was Echinacea Coconut Lime. His breeding goal was to produce a full double-white coneflower and he greatly succeeded!

Coconut Lime Coneflower is extremely floriferous with large 3″ flowers of white which turn a pleasant lime-green as they age. Its strong stems and heavy flower count make it a perfect subject for cut-flowers.

Many people don’t realize that DOUBLE Coneflowers will last over 2 weeks as cut flowers indoors. And, many are highly fragrant…which adds to the show!

Echinacea Hot Papaya from Great Garden Plants

Echinacea Hot Papaya

Then along comes the FIRST-EVER DOUBLE Orange Coneflower with Arie’s Echinacea Hot Papaya! WOW!

When I first saw Hot Papaya Coneflower, I could not believe how tremendously STRONG the stems were! They were like thick pencils! This interspecific cross (a cross between 2 species) has produced this amazingly colorful hybrid with its giant 3″ flowers of brilliant orange and fully double.

Hot Papaya Echinacea also has wonderfully fragrant flowers and I had them last over 18 days as CUT FLOWERS in our offices of Great Garden Plants.

I have the extreme privilege of calling Arie Blom my friend! He is a very passionate plantsman with a willingness to share with others!

Stay tuned NEXT WEEK when I’ll show you his BEST new Double Coneflower for 2011!!! You won’t be disappointed! Chris

Heuchera & Tiarella – Carefree Shade Groundcovers

Do you have a favorite perennial pairing that makes you smile? One of my favorite shade gardening “pairs” is Tiarella and Heuchera (I’m particularly fond of Frosted Violet which has fantastic vigor and is both heat & drought tolerant). Heuchera & Tiarella - carefree shade groundcoveresI have found both to be hard working shade ground covers that are easy care providing multi -seasonal interest.

Both are excellent for container gardening.  They do well if left outside during the winter  in my unprotected in my Zone 5 garden.

The spring flowers of Tiarella  continue to bloom sporadically in cooler climates and makes a charming carpet of foamy (and FRAGRANT) flowers which I LOVE edging a shaded garden path with.  Heucheras come in a wide range of foliage colors and are great anywhere you can provide protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Tiarella is a terrific choice for winter color. Their intricate evergreen leaves turn  intense burgundy shades in the winter which gives you something to enjoy when you get an occasional snow melt while reflecting on the growing season ahead.

Check out our Shade Perennial Garden Collections for more inspiring ideas for your shade garden.

Heuchera & Tiarella  – both oh-so-easy garden plants with color & interest and spring- winter interest.   What pairing makes you smile?

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