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Archive for the ‘Erb Approved Plants’ Category

On a quick trip out to the nursery last week I came across a gorgeous plant with spiky pink flowers that made me stop in my tracks. October is not the time of year I would expect to see Celosia in full glory, but this cultivar, called ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ looks fantastic even now. Nestled into a mixed annual bed, it fits right in with Verbena bonariensis in the backdrop.

Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ with Verbena bonariensis in the Background

Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ was discovered in Peru and features magenta blooms. It is recommended to pinch the plants back when they are smaller to produce more stems, but if you leave it undisturbed, it can grow up to 9′ tall! The flowers are excellent for cutting and can also be dried. The reddish tinge to the leaves and veins are also ornamental in my book. Try it out in a garden bed with other annuals like Verbena or Salvia or try it next to fail-proof perennials like Rudbeckia or Perovskia for an Erb-approved planting scheme!

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Crocosmia’s Striking Flowers Stands Out In A Sea of Green

During a recent trip to my favorite nursery I came across Crocosmia ‘Bright Eyes’. My jaw literally dropped when I saw the striking two-toned flowers which stand out among other perennial blooms. I am familiar with orange and red cultivars of Crocosmia, but this cultivar was an unusual and pleasant surprise.

Crocosmia ‘Bright Eyes’ Grows to Just 20″ Tall

In the family Iridaceae, Crocosmia ‘Bright Eyes’ features funnel-shaped flowers which appear on 20″ tall stems from July through September. Crocosmia prefers full sun and well-drained soil. This genus can also tolerate drought. For maximum effect in the garden, try pairing Crocosmia ‘Bright Eyes’ with Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) or in front of Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’).

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Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ With Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’

While visiting the New York Botanical Garden I found a cultivar of Oakleaf Hydrangea that has exceptional flowers. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ stands out for its fluffy double booms which appear fuller and larger than the straight species. The structure of the flower has a similar look to Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ with layered sepals which cascade as the panicles fade.

Closeup of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ Blooms Fading from White to Pink

The white blooms which appear in June-July last much longer than the straight Hydrangea quercifolia. The sepals fade from white to pink as they age giving a beautiful pastel kind of glow to the panicles. Just like fine wine and cheese, H. quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ gets better with age! This cultivar, hardy to zone 5, grows up to 8′ tall and can grow in sun to part shade.

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Another heat wave is on the way. Why not embrace it with a summery BBQ, get the grill out and cook up some eggplant? From my trip to Israel last year, I can testify that there are tons of ways to prepare and serve eggplant. Mary Ellen Wright, of Lancaster Online, so eloquently captured some of these in her recent article featuring this festive purple delicacy.

Baby Eggplants from Brook Lawn Farm Market (photo from Lancaster Online)

My sister shows some of the newly picked crop of baby eggplants available at Brook Lawn Farm Market in Lancaster Pennsylvania. The photos make my mouth water when I think of all the possibilities for ways to eat them!

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Let’s face it, there are plenty of white and red flowering plant options for the garden, but if you look hard enough you can find some blue flowers as well. And no, I’m not talking about pansies. Try these three plants in your garden to make the festive feel of the 4th of July last throughout the season.

Blue Flowers of Campanula ‘Blue Clips’ Grow 6-9″ Tall

1. Campanula carpatica ‘Blue Clips’      Commonly referred to as Bellflower, Campanula provides a striking blue flower 3″ wide in the shape of a little bell. Campanula is hardy in zones 3-7 and prefers sun, though it is not tolerant of hot and dry conditions. Flowers appear from late spring through early summer. Blue Clips is a short cultivar growing only 6-9″ tall in a mounding form which makes it perfect for a spot front and center in the garden.

Caryopteris ‘Longwood Blue’ Blooms in Late Summer to Fall

2. Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’     Commonly referred to as Bluebeard or Blue Spirea, this shrub grows 2-3′ tall and wide boasting silvery leaves with spiky light blue flowers at the ends. Caryopteris is an herbaceous perennial hardy in zones 6-9 which can be cut back hard in winter. The blooms appear in late summer/ early fall which is a great feature since many other plants are finished blooming by the time Caryopteris takes center stage. Caryopteris will flower best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

The Flower of Hydrangea ‘Blue Lace Cap’ is Flat as Opposed to Globose like other H. macrophylla Cultivars

3. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Lace Cap’     Commonly called Lace Cap Hydrangea, I think this is an often forgotten Hydrangea which deserves a place in the landscape. The flowers are unlike most other H. macrophylla blooms in that they are very delicate, lacey and flat as opposed to globose. The blue flowers appear in July and August. Hydrangea m. ‘Blue Lace Cap’ is hardy to zone 5 and grows 3-5′ tall.

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Planters used in a shade garden to add height and color to the space.

There are a limited number of flowering plants suited for shade gardens. It can be tricky to achieve a colorful garden in low light conditions. Unless you want a bunch of Impatiens and Begonias, focus on foliage and textures of plants as you fill your planting beds. Bring additional color to the garden through pottery, furniture and accessories.

Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ finds a home in the shade garden.

Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ is a lovely plant for the shade garden. This cultivar stands out from others with its aptly named delicate foliage. ‘Lace Carpet’ grows 6-8″ tall and boasts a typical white-colored Foamflower bloom in April-May. Tiarella ‘Lace Carpet’ can be used as a filler in perennial beds or as a groundcover. Hardy from zones 4-9 this is an excellent plant for deep shade.

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Growing up in Pennsylvania, I had a plethora of gardening friends and fellow plant enthusiasts who were very generous in sharing plants with me. My neighbors made significant contributions to the garden I created in my parent’s backyard including Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), a slew of aquatic plants and most notably, Lysimachia clethroides. Lysimachia clethroides, commonly referred to as Gooseneck Loosestrife, was my first love in the Lysimachia genera of plants. With 12-16″ curved stems with spiky white flowers in summer, Gooseneck Loosestrife fills patches of garden beds quickly.

Purple Foliage of Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker'

Lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’, commonly referred to as Hairy Loosestrife is a species that boasts purple leaves with bright yellow flowers. It grows up to 24-30″ tall and is hardy in zones 5-8. It can grow in aggressive patches so it is best placed in a perennial border where it has space to grow. Pair it with variegated leaves or fine textures for maximum impact.

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