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Archive | Gardening

Interesting New Perennials

Penst dark towers 35719a

Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’

A few new native perennial introductions are promising improvements on some old standbys. Terra Nova Nursery’s Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’  loves full sun and has glossy bronze-red foliage topped by masses of pink, instead of white, flowers, that appear in summer. Hardy to zone 3, this plant is heat and humidity tolerant and has a long bloom time. Foliage height is 33″ with flowers reaching up to 36″ and a spread of around 30″.

Helianthus salicifolius ‘Table Mountain’

Helianthus salicifolius ‘Table Mountain’ is another interesting new perennial and is a compact sunflower that is easily grown in average, well-drained garden soils in full sun which it needs for best flowering.  It has strappy foliage topped by bright yellow flowers and has an average height of 12-18″ with the same spread and is more tolerant of dry soil than most cultivars of this species . This late summer into fall bloomer is a nice addition to borders and naturalized areas and will slowly spread over time by creeping rhizomes. Seeds are reported to be sterile.

Helping Plants Survive the Summer Heat


Since plants face heat-stressed, drought-prone conditions in the summertime, it is very important to prevent new plantings from drying out. Drip irrigation systems, which conserve water, can be used as well as hand watering.


To ensure that plants have the best chance of staying hydrated, Snow Creek mixes Terra Sorb, a super-absorbent hydrogel, into the soil as an amendment.


This material can absorb up to 200 times its weight in water and then slowly releases the moisture back into the soil as the plants need it. This product can last as long as five years, absorbing rain or irrigation water and then releasing it back into the soil. Unlike sodium based polymers, this one eventually breaks down into potassium which fertilizes the plant and encourages root growth. Terra-Sorb can be purchased at garden centers or online.


Unusual Spring and Summer Flowering Bulbs

Eremurus 1

Allium globemaster2

Allium christophii3

 Allium sphaerocephalon4

Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha5

Scilla sibirica 6 Fritillaria 7

While daffodils and tulips are always a welcome sight in the spring, pictured above are some out of the ordinary bulbs that are great for spring and early summer blooms.

1 – Eremurus sp.(Foxtail Lily)- Tall spikes of starry florets; extremely showy and eye-catching; for a sunny, very well drained border; protection from strong winds helpful; makes excellent cut flowers; very late spring or early summer; plant in full sun, 32″ tall; hardy in zones 5-8.

Ornamental onions perform beautifully, blooming very late spring through early summer; they add a different, architectural dimension to the garden; many suitable for Heirloom gardens and sunny, well-drained meadows; also wonderful for cut and dried flowers; Giant (volleyball-softball), 1 per sq. ft.; Large (baseball-tennis ball), 5 per sq. ft.; Small(golf ball – marble), 10 per sq. ft.;

2 – Allium ‘Globemaster’ – sparkling silvery pinkish purple softball to volleyball sized flowers that produce secondary florets; extending bloom life. Premiere hybrid. 2 1/2′ – 3′ tall; blooms very late spring.
3 – Allium christophii – (albopilosum) lots of loosely formed, starry, silvery amethyst flowers compressed to make one large, round spidery head about the size of a softball; spectacular cut flower and amazing coming up through hostas, Bergenia or other ground covers; 12″-24″ tall; zones 3-8; blooms very late spring; introduced 1901.

4 – Allium sphaerocephalon – (Drumstick allium) This dark purple/maroon, tightly formed small, quarter sized flower is a super perennial and looks great with Asiatic Lilies or Hemerocallis; early to mid-summer; heirloom from 1594; 18″-30″ tall, zones 5-8.

5 – Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha  – (Species tulip)exterior petals are red and the interior is bright, sunny yellow; larger clone of T. chrysantha; mid spring; 8″-10″ tall; mid spring, hardy zones 3-8.

6 – Scilla siberica – (Siberian squill) Starry flowers that droop like bells on spikes with strap-like leaves, one of the most shade tolerant bulbs; strikingly blue form that naturalizes freely when planted in suitable location; early spring blooming; Heirloom bulbs 1796; 5″-7″ tall, hardy in zones 4-8.

7 – Fritillaria meleagris – (Guinea Hen flower) Extremely variable mixture of solitary, nodding, bell-shaped, reddish purple to black, faintly checkered green, to pure white flowers; great with Marsh Marigolds in damp meadow; 1572; 12″-15″ tall, hardy zones 4-8.



Photos and descriptions courtesy of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.