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Aster (Michaelmas Daisies)
at Digging Dog

Including Aster novi-belgii, Aster novae-angliae, Aster lateriflorus, Aster tataricus, and Aster x frikartii

Aster

Michaelmas Daisies

We never tire of Aster’s cheerful daisy faces and the profusion of colors and sizes that make up this genus, from 6 ft. giants to tiny dwarf alpines. Our Asters, large and small, are tried and true performers in ordinary garden soil and full sun. Generally late summer bloomers, they provide lots of oomph when other perennials have petered out.

View a slideshow of plant images from this genus


Aster asperulus  full sun
Aster asperulus

With a not-too-tall, high-spirited presentation of lavender-blue daisies, this compact, rarely offered Aster should find its way into more gardens.

Sturdy, wine-tinged, open branched stems maintain a pert straight-up stance carrying the big buds and two in. wide, thin rayed flowers. Rising above unusual, large green leaves distinguished by toothed margins, prominent veins and a somewhat fuzzy surface, the long blooming, sunny-eyed blossoms make a vivacious match for the darkly beautiful Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ above our stone wall.

Blooms late July–October.

Size: 15" high x 15" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster asperulus (P-1307)
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Aster ‘Bill’s Big Blue’  full sun

Blooming long after other flowers have faded, Asters are associated with afterthought and cheerfulness in old age. This Ed Carman selection is one of the largest Asters we offer, with clean-looking foliage right to the ground on strong, upright stems culminating in sprays of blue-violet flowers. Bring cheer to the fading days of summer by planting ‘Bill’s Big Blue’ with Helianthus and other stately late bloomers.

Blooms late September–early November

Size: 4'–5' high x 3' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster ‘Bill’s Big Blue’ (p-0621)
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Aster ‘Cassie’  full sun
Aster  Cassie

Pretty pink 1-½ in. flowers gather in festive clusters as they top sturdy stems clad in toothed linear foliage. Several layers of frilly petals swirl around the bright yellow eyes, delivering spirited color to the front lines of a perennial border, while Gaura ‘Pink Cloud’ and the darkly red Angelica gigas take up the rear.

Blooms August–early October.

Size: 18"–2' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster ‘Cassie’ (P-1085)
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Aster ‘Coombe Fishacre’  full sun

With a billowy habit, a reliable floriferous nature and fine foliage that looks dapper all season long, ‘Coombe Fishacre’ is one of our favorite Asters. Its deep green leaves cover sweeping branches all the way down, while a slew of lilac flowers warmed by rosy brown centers roost above. Well after the blooms have faded, the seed heads add intriguing colors and shapes.

This first-class Aster never needs staking and can be planted in large drifts amid Miscanthus ‘Nippon’, Molinia ‘Bergfreund’ or Eupatorium ‘Gateway’ for glowing pink echoes.

Blooms August–September.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster ‘Coombe Fishacre’ (P-0392)
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Aster cordifolius  full sun
Aster cordifolius

FTD should get to know this perky, rarely seen Aster, and so should you. Buds form early and fool us into thinking they’re about to bloom, but they wait until the plant reaches full height. When it does, a mass of blue-violet on erect, wiry, wine red stems leaves us breathless. Try planting Teucrium f. ‘Azureum’ in front and Molinia ‘Windspiel’ as a backdrop. When flowering ends, we find the stems and seed heads of Aster cordifolius so delightful, we leave them on for winter interest.

Blooms August–early October.

Size: 4'–5' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 4.


Aster cordifolius (p-0022)
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Aster cordifolius ‘Avondale’  full sun  partial shade
Blue wood Aster

Selected from a versatile Aster indigenous to our southeastern mountains, ‘Avondale’ greets fall with a jovial long lasting barrage of small, yellow-eyed pale lavender-blue daisies atop tidy slender green foliage. Acquiescent to varied light, it exhibits an upright open habit in sunny spots and becomes more relaxed and arching in darker recesses. Ignored by deer, but coveted by butterflies, floral arrangers, and gardeners, this floriferous wonder endures dry shade once established, favors well-drained soil and can be planted en masse along woodland fringes, meandering amid Geranium ‘White Ness’.

Blooms mid-August–early October.

Size: 20"–2-1/2' high x 18"–2' wide. Zone 3/4.

Aster cordifolius ‘Avondale’ (P-1746)
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Aster cordifolius ‘Chieftain’  full sun
Aster cordifolius Chieftain

Lifted on tall strong stems, a starry haze of umpteen, tiny, pale lavender-blue daisies lining branched upright sprays earned this impressive celebrity an AGM award and a place in our garden. Rich green tailored foliage stays fresh, while the sunny-eyed flowers lend an ethereal look to the fall landscape that can be juxtaposed against the coarser beauty of Vernonia crinita. Let shrubby roses or more sturdy perennials provide support in the back of the border, otherwise it will need staking or a spring pinching to ensure a shorter stature.

Blooms mid-August – October.

Size: 5' high x 3' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster cordifolius ‘Chieftain’ (P-1609)
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Aster cordifolius ‘Little Carlow’  full sun

‘Little Carlow’ is lush and cheerful. Its flowers are larger and a deeper violet-blue than those of Aster cordifolius, and they have bright yellow centers. The green leaves, which reach to the ground, are also broader and darker. It blends well with tall grasses like Calamagrostis and Panicums and contrasts with yellow flowering plants such as Achillea ‘Marmalade’.

Blooms mid-August–early October.

Size: 3'–4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster cordifolius ‘Little Carlow’ (P-0255)
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Aster divaricatus  full sun  partial shade
White Wood Aster
Aster divaricatus

Small white flowers like finely cut daisies, with a yellow center, and elongated heart-shaped, coarsely toothed, dark green leaves, are displayed in large clusters on sinuous, purple-black stems. This Aster is better-known in Europe, where it’s used to light up shady urban gardens. We find it indispensable in the country too, for its tolerance of dry, shady sites. A good plant for the front of the border, try it with Hypericum kouytchense or broad-leafed perennials.

Blooms mid-July–September.

Size: 15"–18" high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster divaricatus (p-0023)
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Aster ‘Elsie Dale’  full sun
; hardy to zone 0.

Aster ‘Elsie Dale’ (P-0717)
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Aster ericoides hyb. ‘Ringdove’  full sun

Our anticipation soars as we wait for round buds to finally unfurl a galaxy of small starry blooms twinkling in rose-tinged lilac shades. Beneath the profuse late season display, tiny green leaves stay fresh for months, garnishing stiff branching stems, which angle out and form a well-mannered mound. Illuminated by citron-yellow centers with red streaks, the dainty daisies easily gratify companions like Achillea ‘Hella Glashoff’ or Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’.

Blooms mid-August–September.

Size: 2' high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster ericoides hyb. ‘Ringdove’ (P-0024)
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Aster ericoides ‘Golden Spray’  full sun

Mirroring autumn’s warmth, this Aster’s unexpected golden floral hues bring a glittery Midas touch to the late season border. Arching branched sprays of copious small daisies with narrow buff white petals and prominent rich yellow centers rise above the well-groomed, dense leafy clump, which makes a congenial neighbor for Astrantias and Pennisetum spathiolatum.

Blooms September – October.

Size: 2-1/2'–3' high x 2' wide. Zone 3/4.

Aster ericoides ‘Golden Spray’ (P-1610)
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Aster ericoides ‘Monte Cassino’  full sun  new plant

Beloved by late season garden aficionados, florists and butterflies, this exceptional Aster spotlights wispy crisp white clouds of petite yellow-centered daisies hovering above well-tailored tiny green leaves that form a vigorous bushy clump. ‘Monte Cassino’s delicate illuminated texture becomes a simple-to-place ethereal filler, perfect for juxtaposing against bolder perennials such as Persicaria or Crocosmia.

Blooms late August–September.

Size: 2'–3' high x 2'–3' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster ericoides ‘Monte Cassino’ (P-1792)
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Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’  full sun
Aster x frikartii Mönch

In some gardening circles, ‘Mönch’ is acclaimed as one of the ten best perennials. Prolific, 2-1/2 in. lavender flowers bloom lavishly for months on end. The clear color blends with so many others: light pink Geranium renardii ‘Mavis Simpson’, Phlomis lanata, Penstemon ‘Ruby’ and those yellow Kniphofia ‘Vanilla’.

Blooms July–October.

Size: 18" high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ (p-0025)
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Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’  full sun
Bluebird Smooth Aster

If you are looking for a Aster with engaging late season color, impeccably handsome mildew resistant foliage and a medium-sized frame that never needs staking, look no farther! Clad in glabrous, bluish green leaves, the vase-shaped clump showcases numerous broad, bouquetlike clusters of single, one inch wide, delicately rayed petals gathered by gilded centers. The jubilant floral display is elevated on red-hued stems and seems to cover the entire top half of the plant. Undeterred by varied moisture levels and soil types, ‘Bluebird’ is a Mt. Cuba Center introduction.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 4' high x 2'–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’ (p-1240)
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Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’  full sun
Aster lateriflorus Lady in Black

Shrouded in mysterious tiny black-purple foliage, ‘Lady in Black’ offers sprays of small white flowers with a healthy blush of pink. Unlike ‘Prince’s tight clumping habit, this tall and elegant Dutch lady has spreading upright stems that spread over time.

Blooms September–October.

Size: 3-1/2'–4' high x 3' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ (p-0700)
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Aster lateriflorus ‘White Lovely’  full sun
Calico Aster

A preeminent star of the fall show, ‘White Lovely’ entertains petite, thin-petaled white daisies tinged lilac when mature and brightened by sunny-side-up yellow eyes. The copious, late summer flowers are borne along horizontally branched leafy sprays of arching and wide-angled, purple-streaked stems with small, slender dark green foliage that never tuckers out.

We like to plant Monarda ‘Violet Queen’ and Melianthus ‘Antonow’s Blue’ behind while headlining this elegant Aster right up front.

Blooms August–early October.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster lateriflorus ‘White Lovely’ (P-1366)
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Aster ‘Martha Roderick’  full sun
; hardy to zone 0.

Aster ‘Martha Roderick’ (P-0028)
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Aster novae-angliae ‘Harrington’s Pink’  full sun
New England Aster
Aster novae-angliae Harrington’s Pink

Celebrated by Graham Stuart Thomas for conveying “much garden charm,” this well-loved Aster’s attraction is her pink flowers and her tall profile. Lavish quantities of delicate gold-centered daisies house nearly 50 layered, extra fine rays each, while cresting thick, straight, somewhat woody branched stalks.

Bred by Mr. Hilliard from Williamsburg, Iowa, the robust, grayish green clump crowded with stem-clasping, bristle-rough, 4 to 5 in. long leaves tolerates wet soil and some shade, resists mildew and can accompany Sedum ‘Indian Chief’ and blue blooming Asters.

Blooms August – September.

Size: 3'–5' high x 2'–3' wide; hardy to zone 3.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Harrington’s Pink’ (p-1426)
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Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’  full sun
New England Aster

Lose yourself, like the linear, dark green fuzzy foliage, in a sea of royal purple flowers held on erect stems. Mildew resistant, compact and bushy, the handsome symmetrical mound becomes engulfed with 1-½ in. wide, golden-eyed, vividly colored daisies in a truly breathtaking spectacle, especially when planted en masse.

Dr. Richard Lighty developed this easy-care, late season show stopper that makes a sterling addition to arrangements and a captivating counterpoint to Stipa arundinacea.

Blooms August – early October.

Size: 18" high x 18"–2' wide; hardy to zone 3.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ (p-0175)
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Aster novi-belgii ‘Blue Danube’  full sun
Aster novi-belgii Blue Danube

This Aster’s alluring flowers promise a late season hurrah. Supported by stiff branching stems lined with verdant linear foliage, the blooms are the size of silver dollars, and layers of their closely set blue-violet petals radiate from yellow and maroon centers. ‘Blue Danube’ lends an air of elegance in the midst of Calamagrostis brachytricha and Angelica gigas.

Blooms September–early October.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster novi-belgii ‘Blue Danube’ (P-0921)
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Aster novi-belgii ‘White Climax’  full sun

When this cultivar first bloomed in our garden, we were delighted to see such large flowers! A breathtaking contrast of pure white blossoms against handsome, verdant foliage with wine-colored veins creates a presentation even more spectacular than that of ‘Climax’. Combine with Origanum ‘Ed Carmine’ for a showy summer farewell.

Blooms September–early October.

Size: 2-1/2'–5' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Aster novi-belgii ‘White Climax’ (p-0633)
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Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’  full sun
Aster oblongifolius October Skies ; hardy to zone 0.

Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ (P-1241)
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Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’  full sun
Aromatic Aster

Mr. Raydon Alexander of San Antonio, Texas, said this hearty mint-scented Aster was his favorite, and we’re sure you’ll agree. Originating near Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, drought tolerant ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ quickly forges a valiant, dense mound that gets buried under multitudes of bright blue-lavender daisies. With late richly colored flowers, distinguished by sunlit yellow eyes and fine-textured single rays, and a no-fuss, orderly nature, it proves indispensable in the fall border.

Blooms September – October.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide. Zone 3/4.

Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ (P-1611)
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Aster ‘Ochtendgloren’  full sun
Aster  Ochtendgloren

Conjuring a zestful spirit as summertime wanes, this elegant Aster parades branched heads of dainty pink starlike blooms and darker pink buds. The long and narrow, densely set foliage that lines its stiff, sturdy stems is handsome right to the ground. Claiming Aster pringlei lineage, ‘Ochtendgloren’ merrily partners with Pennisetum ‘Moudry’ and Geranium ‘Buxton’s Variety’ in front of our Beech hedge.

Blooms August–early October.

Size: 4'–5' high x 2'–3' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Aster ‘Ochtendgloren’ (p-1087)
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Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’  full sun
Aster pyrenaeus Lutetia

‘Lutetia’ is one of our favorite low growing Asters, and by summer’s end you’ll see why. Its pink buds open into a charming blanket of large, yellow-centered, pastel daisies with delicately splayed lavender petals, completely hiding the loose mound of finely textured foliage and intertwined, wiry, deep purple stems.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 18" high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 6.

Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’ (p-0631)
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Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’  full sun  partial shade
Dwarf Tatarian Aster
Aster tataricus Jindai

The name may sound like one of the bad guys from Star Wars, but this unique Aster is definitely on our side with its upright bearing and lush textural appeal.

Not as towering as its moisture-loving Asian counterpart, ‘Jindai’ spawns huge serrated rough-to-the-touch leafage on stout shorter stalks and abundant branched sprays of late blooming violet flowers engraved by large saffron eyes. A stand-alone for the mixed border, its assertive look can be juxtaposed against finer textured plants like Spiraea ‘Ogon’ and Phlox ‘David’.

Blooms September–November.

Size: 3' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 3.

Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ (P-0632)
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Aster turbinellus  full sun
Aster turbinellus

With a carefree cant, green, lance-shaped leaves have a lively look all season. Lean, dark violet-streaked stems give way to airy, lavender-colored sprays of glassine blossoms whose open petals are caught in a vivid yellow center. The red hues in the stems of Panicum ‘Shenandoah’ and Echinops enliven this Aster’s rich verdure.

Blooms September–October.

Size: 4' high x 2' wide; hardy to zone 3.

Aster turbinellus (P-0819)
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Aster ‘White Swan’  full sun
; hardy to zone 0.

Aster ‘White Swan’ (P-1088)
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Latest News

Straight from the Border
Bring sparkling beauty to your late summer and early fall garden.

By the time August rolls around and the waning days of summer segue into fall, gardens can appear tired and somewhat lackluster. We may find ourselves simply losing interest in our verdant abodes.

Over the years, we’ve discovered a few simple techniques that allow any plantscape to resonate with late-season appeal. For starters, the addition of well-rotted compost and or mulch not only reduces watering requirements throughout the warmer months, but generally makes it easier for plants to stay perky and fresh looking during the dog days of summer. Sometime in early May, you may wish to cut back tall, late blooming perennials that have a tendency to flop or become messy by the time they finally flower. By doing so, they’ll maintain a tidier habit, and when coupled with frequent deadheading many blossoms will keep on coming ‘til the season’s end.

You could include a few specimen shrubs or trees. They serve as strong bones or placeholders, lending an overall pleasing appearance to the landscape, even though some of the perennials or grasses may be spent. White, clear pink or chartreuse-hued flowers tend to forge soothing counterpoints as they effortlessly meld autumn’s cozy parade of warm oranges, reds and yellows. Major stars of the late show, ornamental grasses become poetry in motion during gusty days, while their shimmering inflorescences are set aglow by afternoon sunlight. When designing your outdoor space, it’s important to choose plant’s not only for their flowers, but to consider their seed heads (often important food sources for birds), foliar intrigue, berries, bark and dynamic architecture as well.

We’ve included a sampling of our very favorite plants that promise to inspire your green thumb, heighten your senses and entice you back into the garden for a stellar last hurrah! There’s still enough time to select a couple of new botanical wonders and get a jump start on next spring before winter finally arrives.

Perennials:

  • asarum splendens

    Actaea simplex ‘Atropurpurea’ & Helianthus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’

    Actaea simplex ‘Atropurpurea’
    Grown from seedlings carefully selected for dark, coppery purple foliage, the regal profile of ‘Atropurpurea’ shows its good breeding. A garden dweller with a staid bearing, its stately reddish purple stems soar above your head, displaying dense spires covered with round mahogany-hued buds and sweet starbursts of white. Echo this Actaea’s somber tones by bringing it together with Angelica gigas, and let the lime green foliage of Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’ brighten the mood. Hardy to zone 4. (P-0049)
  • Asarum splendens
    asarum splendens

    Asarum splendens



    Chinese Wild Ginger
    “Splendid” seems like too modest a word to proclaim the elegance of this ginger’s foliage! glistening, broadly arrow-shaped, deep green leaves flaunt dramatic silver marbling and come spring, 2 in. wide dark purple blossoms with white throats. Situated among Podophyllum hexandrum, easy-to-grow Asarum splendens sculpts a show stealing, illustriously patterned ground cover in just a few years that appreciates warm, humid summers while resenting cool ones. Hardy to zone 6. (p-1247)
  • Aster cordifolius ‘Avondale’
    Blue wood Aster
    Selected from a versatile Aster indigenous to our southeastern mountains, ‘Avondale’ greets fall with a jovial long lasting barrage of small, yellow-eyed pale lavender-blue daisies atop tidy slender green foliage. Acquiescent to varied light, it exhibits an upright open habit in sunny spots and becomes more relaxed and arching in darker recesses. Ignored by deer, but coveted by butterflies, floral arrangers, and gardeners, this floriferous wonder endures dry shade once established, favors well-drained soil and can be planted en masse along woodland fringes, meandering amid Geranium ‘White Ness’. Zone 3/4. (P-1746)
  • Aster lateriflorus ‘White Lovely’
    Calico Aster
    A preeminent star of the fall show, ‘White Lovely’ entertains petite, thin-petaled white daisies tinged lilac when mature and brightened by sunny-side-up yellow eyes. The copious, late summer flowers are borne along horizontally branched leafy sprays of arching and wide-angled, purple-streaked stems with small, slender dark green foliage that never tuckers out. We like to plant Monarda ‘Violet Queen’ and Melianthus ‘Antonow’s Blue’ behind while headlining this elegant Aster right up front. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1366)

    aster jindai and melianthus major

    Aster ‘Jindai’ & Melainthus major

  • Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’
    Dwarf Tatarian Aster
    The name may sound like one of the bad guys from Star Wars, but this unique Aster is definitely on our side with its upright bearing and lush textural appeal. Not as towering as its moisture-loving Asian counterpart, ‘Jindai’ spawns huge serrated rough-to-the-touch leafage on stout shorter stalks and abundant branched sprays of late blooming violet flowers engraved by large saffron eyes. A stand-alone for the mixed border, its assertive look can be juxtaposed against finer textured plants like Spiraea ‘Ogon’ and Phlox ‘David’. Hardy to zone 3. (P-0632)
  • Eupatorium maculatum ‘Riesenschirm’ Regarded as one of the top ten plants of the Dutch wave, favored by bees and butterflies and an AGM winner, this superb back-of-the-border beauty propels polished, tall dark purple stems—stiff, straight and staunch—skyward bound. Loosely arranged whorls of heavily textured deep green tapered leaves anchor fluffy 8 in. wide domed flower heads awash with reddish purple hues. Its lofty architecture maintains a dignified profile, even in winter, enhanced by warm browns and seed heads, which nourish finches and tits. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1754)
  • Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’
    A statuesque beauty, ‘Venusta’ is distinguished by huge, fluffy cloudlike plumes painted with soft salmon pinks floating above a good-sized, leafy mass of upright stems and jagged, Maple-shaped foliage. Forging an impressive stand in a moist well drained setting, Meadow Sweet seldom needs staking, and makes an airy partner for Trollius ‘ Superbus’. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1024)
  • Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’
    Cymbal Star
    One of the largest flowered Heleniums, ‘Zimbelstern’s undulating, brilliantly golden, mahogany-splashed petals converge at a russet eye. Before its enthusiastic bloom, strong stems sport unusual chartreuse buds that have a joy all their own. Hardy to zone 4. (p-0854)
  • Helenium ‘Red Jewel’
    Saturated with dusky red hues, uniquely shaded petals perform a lavish dance around prominent maroon and saffron hubs. Droves of closely set flowers, some marked by yellow tips, are esteemed for their long blooming period and the consistent color they maintain throughout the season, unlike many other Heleniums. Destined to be a vivacious garden mainstay, this Bob Brown introduction grows as a bushy verdant clump, looks spectacular en masse and can escort perennials like Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ and Salvia confertiflora for a galvanizing floral affair. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1701)
  • Helianthus giganteus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’
    Giant Pale Yellow Sunflower
    Late blooming pastel yellow flowers gaze down at onlookers from atop lofty, sturdy stems. Combine with Buddleja ‘Ellen’s Blue’, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ and tall, late Asters in the rear of the border. Hardy to zone 6. (p-0461)
  • Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’
    Bolstered by hefty, tall and straight asparagus-hued stalks, dense yellowish orange buds, infused with chartreuse, remind us of miniature Christmas trees. Radiant yellows, pumpkin colors and lime tinges meld an unparalleled luminosity as the gorgeous torches stand sentinel, their plump rounded bases tapering to blunt tips well above a bright green, upright clump of strapping, deeply furrowed lax leaves. A robust specimen for the fall garden, ‘Yellow Cheer’s late season effervescence steals the show, especially when staged against a dark green foil. Hardy to zone 8. (p-1458)
  • leontis

    Leonotis menthifolia ‘Savannah Sunset’

    Leonotis menthifolia ‘Savannah Sunset’
    Lion’s Tail
    Conjuring images of romping safari lions, wondrous dense whorls of furry bright orange tubular flowers ascend straight lofty stalks in spaced intervals. New growth emerges from the blossom’s center, crafting an unusual tiered effect, while freely branching square hairy stems sprout neatly paired triangular green leaves that are narrow and toothed. Majestic as a container specimen or a mixed border focal point, this easy-to-grow South African mint family member favors a sunny well-drained spot with average moisture and a hard cut back after frosty winters. Hardy to zone 8. (P-1657)
  • Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’
    Assuming an air of refinement, the very slender blooms feature small, deep rose and chartreuse bracts that resemble decorative braids. Tipped with tiny purple flowers, the clustered bracts are held at nearly right angles to upright and reddish leafy stems. Grounded by medium green foliage, this long lasting, delicate floral display casts earthy yet saturated hues in the border or an arrangement. Shown in the middle with Hypericum androsaemum to the left. Hardy to zone 6. (p-1277)
    origanum, persicaria, hypericum

    Hypericum androsaseum to the left with Euphorbia ‘Excalibur’ behind & Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ back right;
    low growing Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’ (middle, to the right of the Hypericum)

  • Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Summer Dance’
    With foliage that’s close to lime-green, and spiky floral tails that approach the scarlet spectrum of rosy pink, this slow spreading perennial is sure to please. We brought ‘Summer Dance’ home from Piet Oudolf’s Dutch nursery and have come to appreciate its brighter, less rambunctious nature. Swaying to a late summer breeze, our stand lives up to its name while cheerfully commingling amid Anemone ‘Andrea Atkinson’ in the border. Zone 5/6. (P-1312)
    rudbeckia

    Rudbeckia ’Praire Glow’, Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’ & Helenium ‘Red Jewel’ on the right

  • Rudbeckia triloba ‘Prairie Glow’
    Spangled with burgundy, bronze and reddish orange shades, irresistible legions of ebullient long blooming daisies parade dark chocolate centers and bicolor gold-tipped petals. At the base, large trilobed verdant leaves form a handsome bushy mass that gives way to upper, narrower leaves and openly branched, erect purple flowering stems. A denizen of the Great Plains, this summertime showstopper is not as long-lived as other Rudbeckias; it eventually wears out, but easily reseeds. Hardy to zone 3. (P-1713)
  • Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Red Thunder’
    Derived from a Korean collection of Sanguisorba officinalis, this high-fashion Sanguisorba was selected by Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf for its deep ruby-red bobbles, perched on tall stiffer stems. Whether in the border or a meadow planting, a bouquet or frost-covered in the garden’s winter light, their distinctive silhouette inspires as much drama as a gathering thunderhead. A bluish green bed of pinnate foliage with toothed leaflets launches the strong floral display that can be superimposed against lofty silvery plumed Miscanthus, whorled Veronicastrum blooms and Helianthus ‘Capenoch Star’. Hardy to zone 4. (P-1542)
  • Sedum telephium ‘Red Cauli’
    A vibrant carousel of color and a neat compact visage earned this popular Sedum the RHS Garden Merit award in 2006 and a place in our border. Flashy cardinal-hued arching stems and notched blue-green succulent leaves with purple tinges elevate pale rosy buds and bright pink clustered flowers, which age to a dark ruby red. Let ‘Red Cauli’ festoon a patio container or a pathway’s edge, accompanying other late blooming companions such as Salvia reptans West Texas Form and Calamagrostis foliosa. Zone 3/4. (P-1716)
    sedum and salvia

    Salvia ‘Limelight’ & Sedum ‘Red Cauli’

  • Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’
    Whorls of densely packed, chartreuse terminal buds on strong upright stems provide exciting contrast to the lush green color of ‘Limelight’s foliage. In flower, this cultivar is sure to take center stage as deep bluish purple blooms peek out from the vibrant yellow-green calyxes. Cut back each season to encourage new growth at the base and to maintain a pleasing shape. Hardy to zone 8. (p-0608)
  • Tricyrtis lasiocarpa
    Amethyst Toad Lily
    A favored standout among Tricyrtis, this exceptional species sprouts an attractive tightset clump of sturdy erect arching stems garbed with glistening green and purple freckled alternating leaves. Amethyst and blue petal tips embellish white upward facing orchid-style blooms that populate large well-branched terminal sprays. Hailing from Taiwan, where it has been observed growing in nearly full sun, Amethyst Toad Lily’s lovely long blooming flowers can model their ornate features in a brighter garden bed. Hardy to zone 7. (P-0271)

Grasses

  • Andropogon gerardii
    Big Bluestem
    Historically renowned as the sod our ancestors broke their backs busting, Big Bluestem is the most widespread of all the prairie grasses. Its regal and wild color show makes it a must in our garden. Growing to great size, the stand’s lush, blue-blushed summer greenery becomes a burgundy and copper glory at first frost. Soaring three-pronged red seed heads beg its other common name, Turkeyfoot. Reliable, heat tolerant and sturdy, Andropogon gerardii thrives in poorly drained clay to dry sandy soils, and easily transitions the outskirts of your garden into the wild meadow beyond. Hardy to zone 4. (g-0448)
  • Eragrostis chloromelas
    Blue Lovegrass
    Witness the ethereal haze of sheer amber-colored panicles floating on lax 3 ft. stalks over long fine cut powdery blue blades and you’ll see why we love this gorgeous South African denizen. The flowing warm season mound spreads slowly over time, while the gauzy inflorescences tantalize birds, butterflies and the rest of us through early winter. Appreciative of fast draining locations, Blue Lovegrass makes a sterling drought tolerant specimen or mass planting. Flank with Pennisetum spathiolatum and tall Molinias, and intersperse Sanguisorba ’Chocolate Tip’ or Aster ’Blue Danube’ for a spectacular painterly effect. Zone 6/7. (G-0540)
  • Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Bergfreund’
    Invite this “friend of the mountain” into your garden bed and it will quickly become your friend as well. Dynamic yet not too imposing, a gauzy array of gently pendulous, rich-colored reddish purple panicles mingle on dark green upright stems. Handsome foliage forms a low green stage that radiates yellow hues in autumn. Studded with ricelike beads transmuting warm chestnut hues when mature, the airy plumes should be headlined right up front where they become a mysterious veil that you can peer through. Hardy to zone 4. (G-0489)
  • Pennisetum spathiolatum
    Slender Veldt Grass
    A denizen of South Africa, this drought tolerant evergreen grass has low growing, narrow dark green blades that provide a verdant contrast to its tawny colored tapers. The dense, abundantly produced inflorescences hover on jointed nearly invisible stems, some 2 to 3 ft. tall, while fashioning a delightful see-through veil. Especially mesmerizing when grouped in a dry creek bed, a meadow or a water wise garden, the Slender Veldt Grass asks only for a well drained abode. Zone 6/7. (G-0511)

Shrubs

  • Cornus capitata
    Evergreen Dogwood
    An elegant, large evergreen shrub or small tree, this slow growing Dogwood is a perfect anchor for the shrubby border. Handsome, curved leathery leaves with light green veins provide a pleasing texture and turn bronze in the winter months. Buttonlike flower heads surrounded by creamy yellow bracts precede the long lasting, prominent, pinkish red strawberry-shaped fruit that appears in November and can be brought inside as a colorful complement to holiday greenery. Hardy to zone 8. (S-0364)
    cotinus and persicaria

    Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ & Cotinus ‘Grace’

  • Cotinus ‘Grace’
    Smoke Bush
    An arresting beacon as the sun casts a ruby glow through its purple-black leaves, ‘Grace’ inherits her elegance from Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’ and Cotinus obovatus. The sprays of tiny deep pink flowers throw a smoky, wine-colored fog over its robust form, and a close glance reveals bright yellow at the center of each bloom. Lovely in contrast with the silver foliage of Teucrium fruticans (Select Form), ‘Grace’ conveys a stately presence matched by few other plants. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0394)
  • hydrangea ruby slippers

    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’


    Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’
    Easily slipped into a diminutive spot, this compelling smaller-statured beauty sprung from a 1998 U.S. National Arboretum cross between ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Pee Wee’. Exceptional 9 in. upright flowers, which open white but quickly transmute pale pink and eventually deeper rose hues, dress up a more petite, compact rounded carriage. Broad, lobed deciduous leaves are dark green in summer and mahogany tinted come autumn. A peerless companion for fine textured plants such as Spiraea ‘Ogon’ or Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, ‘Ruby Slippers’s lovely low profile can be ushered to the foreground, planted en masse or utilized as a hedge. Hardy to zone 5. (S-0766)
  • Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’
    Left to its own designs, this vigorous Hydrangea has a natural upright and arching form, but it also responds well to pruning, making ‘Unique’ an effective choice where space is scarce. The immense flower heads are spectacular and abundant, and true to name are unique in shape, being quite broad at the base and bluntly rounded at the tip. They begin the season a creamy white and gradually darken to a buff pink. Hardy to zone 3. (s-0348)
    hydrangea unique

    Hydrangea paniculata ‘Unique’

Trees & Vines

  • Clematis terniflora
    Sweet Autumn Clematis
    This spectacular New Zealand native is covered with small white flowers borne on long, arching panicles. The pink anthers, silky seed heads, and dark glossy leaves combine with the Hawthorn-like fragrance of the flowers to create a sensuous, alluring effect. We trained our Sweet Autumn Clematis to grow horizontally against a wall, so that the evergreen foliage contrasts with the hanging flower panicles. Hardy to zone 6. (T-0108)
  • Parrotia persica
    F. W. Parrot, who made the first ascent of Mt. Ararat in 1829, lends his name to this low branched, round headed, deciduous Persian native with tremendous landscape value. In spring, the silver, green and cream-colored smooth bark is complemented by lustrous green foliage and in autumn it’s highlighted by exquisite gold, rosy pink and crimson tones. Later, showy red stamens and wooly brown bracts create a reddish haze around bare limbs, making a virtual carousel of color and texture. Pest free Persian Ironwood prefers well drained soil and detests both overly wet or dry conditions. Grows moderately. 10’ in 6–8 yrs. Hardy to zone 5. (T-0016)

Current Staff’s Favorite Plant

staff favorite plant

This glamorous beacon for the late season garden is our favorite plant this week. Hydrangea aspera ‘Rocklon’ with it's large pink clouds of buds and pinkish bronze, downy new growth bring a soft look to this noble, rarely cultivated Hydrangea. Mounted on stout fuzzy stems, wide, hairy serrated foliage, with red-hued petioles, provides a graceful deep green foil for the enormous mauve lacecaps ringed by white bracts. Adequate water and bright shade will ensure ‘Rocklon’s prosperity, while Corydalis and Stylophorum diphyllum offer contrasting texture beneath. (S-0421)

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