Great Plants for the Garden – Jackie Walley

From the Meadow Brook Garden Club Presentation:


Great Plants for the Garden



Acer -Maple

                 ‘Crimson Prince’ – Hardier and more vigorous than ‘Bloodgood’  22′-25′

                 ‘Emperor I’ – Red Foliage  turns brilliant scarlet fall.  More cold hardy than others.  15′ Ht. & W

                 Griseum Paperbark – Beautiful neat habit.  Erect in branching, a statement in the garden shedding bark of red cinnamon adds to this special tree

                 Crimson Sentry – Stately columnar –  great at large vertical entries

Betula – Birch

                 ‘Heritage’ – Earned a a place in the birch hall of fame- leaves glossier, dark green, and less prone to leaf spot, the begins to exfoliate at a young age, cold hardy to -40 degrees.  Heritage is superior in every characteristic

Cercis – Red Bud – Several new varieties with more interesting foliage

                 Clump forms add a denser effect when needed

                 ‘Forest Pansy’

                 ‘Merlot’ – an improved Forest Pansy, holds it’s purple color in more sun and heat

                 ‘Hearts of Gold’ – Outstanding form of traditional ‘Red Bud’ – Striking, intense golden-yellow spring foliage, gradually turning to chartreuse.  Growing tips take on orange-red tone, almost coral like.  With it’s tidy canopy and golden heart-shaped leaves a real show in the garden.

                 ‘Rising Sun’ – Gorgeous with multicolored leaves from pale pink stem, orange and chartreuse leaves; Resistant to burn, tolerant of heat and adaptable to various soil conditions

                 Weeping Varieties: ‘Covey’ (Lavender Twist)  green leaves;  ‘Ruby Falls’- purple leaves like ‘Forest Pansy’, nice yellow fall color


Chionanthus – Fringe Tree

                 Adaptable to many soils, cold hardy to -30 degrees, varies from a wide-spreading shrub to a small tree.  Fragrant star-shaped white flowers May-June.  Full sun to moderate shade.  A good woodland or understory naturalizing plant.


Cornus – Dogwood

                 kousa – much hardier; many new varieties, offer large raspberry-like seed pods attracting birds; blooms later, no danger of frost damage to flowers.  Comes in variegated leaves but must be in semi-shade or will scorch

                 ‘Satomi’ – Pink

                 ‘Wolf Eyes’ – variegated

                 Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry (very early to bloom April early May)

Disanthus – cercidifolius (Red Hazel)

                 One of the most beautiful trees/shrubs for fall color; fall color begins in early fall unusual flowers resemble little burgundy starfish that appear as the foliage drops.  Great combo with gold, variegated, and chartreuse  Matures to 10′ – 18′

Fagus – Beech

                 Tri-Color (pink, white, green)

                 ‘Dawycki Purple’- Columnar more compact than Dawyck

                 ‘Red Obelisk’ – Columnar

                 ‘Purpurea Pendula’  – Weeping Purple   NO TWO ARE ALIKE


                 ‘Gold Spire’

Halesia carolina

                 A small understory tree with a broad, rounded crown.  Can be a large shrub.  Features drooping clusters of bell-shaped white flowers appearing in April before leaves emerge.  Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.  Can be attractive in fall color.


                 12′-15′ ; adapts to many soil types; full sun to part shade Fragrant flowers in late summer with colorful fruiting bracts that turn magenta pink in fall. Peeling bark for winter interest.   * Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies*

Liriodendron – Tulip Tree

                 commonly referred to as a tulip poplar or yellow poplar, NOT a poplar; more closely related to magnolia trees.  Flower resembles a tulip, 1 1/2”- 4” have a faint cucumber odor.

Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’

                 Another under-used plant.   Green leaves in the spring; turns dark purple by mid-summer; selected for it’s straight trunk. Small white flowers hang in clusters in May; fruits are relished by birds.  Bird lovers will enjoy the wide array of song birds that come to feast.




Use other colors, not just green, try weeping and unique shapes

                 Weeping Blue Spruce – A high impact specimen

                 Weeping Norway – a grand specimen after several years – give it the space to show itself;  love the effects with snow


                 ‘Crippsii’ (one of my favorites)  keep out of full sun and winter winds or burlap

                 ‘Golden Fernleaf’ – a cultivar of Hinoki Cypress with beautiful bright golden yellow fern-like foliage.   These golden evergreens, set in the correct environment, will “light up” a space and create stronger color to surrounding plants that are in bloom or have colored foliage.

                 Hinoki Cypress – an excellent texture – many different shapes and varieties

                 ‘Lemon Thread’    a nice vertical delicate foliage (mix with the shorter ‘Gold Mop’s)

                 ‘Pendula’ – Weeping Alaskan Cedar – very dramatic

                 ‘Sullivan’  – a beautiful blue cypress- needs protection – very grand specimen




Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’

                 Underused for such a beauty .  Magnolia like blooms, continuous for weeks/months, spicy fragrance, deer resistant, good strong stature

Gillenia trifoliata now Proteranthus

                 Recently have fallen in love with this one.  A stunning delicate shrub but treated like a herbaceous perennial

                 White and ‘Pink Profusion’         


Hamamelis  Witchhazel 

                 One of the most under-used shrubs!!

                 Vernalis -A good specimen or effective planted in groups.  A V-shaped shrub, can mature 8′- 12′ Produces large wiry yellow flowers in mid-late winter (February/March)  !!  Brilliant yellow fall color.  May be also be trained or acquired as a topiary type tree.

                 Arnold Promise – yellow flowers; Diane red flowers, shrub is smaller in size;

                 ‘Jelena’ (‘Coppery Beauty’ – Orange

                 Virginiana – Common Withhazel   (Fall Bloom)            



                 Newer varieties flower from bottom up and on entire stem, not just the tips.

  • Stronger stems prevent flopping over.
  • Up to 3x longer bloom time from July into fall

                 Below are some new varieties from 2016

  •   ‘Ballet Slippers’
  •   Summerific ‘Berry Awesome’ – Vibrant lavender pink, compact 4′
  • ‘Starry Starry Night’ – Pink bi-toned pinwheel flowers, purple foliage
  • ‘Mocha Moon’ – White flowers with red eye, dark foliage, floriferous
  • ‘Heartthrob’ – Lustrous very deep red flowers from black buds, very floriferous


Hydrangea– So many new ones on the market;  be patient – wait to make sure they perform

Tried and True

                 ‘Annabelle’   New larger flowered cultivar = ‘Incrediball’ – Stronger stems

                 ‘Bobo’ – Very dependable; lacy cone shaped flower with long bloom time and holds heads  through winter;   excellent fall color

                 ‘Endless Summer’ – multi-color; buds yellow with flowers ranging from pink,  purple and blue

                 ‘Fire and Ice’ – Blooms open creamy white in early summer, turn pink in mid-summer, turn deep magenta red in fall.   Great accent shrub, foundation and borders

                 ‘Limelight’ – A true performer – just allow the space

                 ‘Little Lime’-  A shorter variety of  Limelight

                 ‘Pinky Winky’ **one of my favorites; very dependable, great impact, very large flowers ranging in deep raspberry red with varying pink shades up to a white tip; red stems

                 ‘Quickfire’ – Beautiful lacy white cone shaped flowers with brilliant red stems; good fall color

                 ‘Little Quickfire’ – smaller than Quickfire

                 ‘Tuff Stuff’ – underwent very difficult conditions and still performed

Oakleaf Variety

  •                  ‘Snowflake’
  •                  ‘Snow Queen’
  •                  ‘Ruby Slippers’


Sambucus ‘Black Lace’

                 Beautiful delicate foliage ranging in shades of dark black purple to   burgundy with large pale pink flowers attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and hummingbird moths.  Needs sun to keep color.  Good for privacy where needed.




Buxus – What would herb gardens be without this most historical plant.  Have fun creating shapes and use them for dividing gardens, anchoring and pronounce a shape in the garden.


                 ‘Graham Blandy’ – very good skinny vertical habit for specimen or narrow hedge.   Maintains it’s beautiful shape without pruning.        

                 ‘Sprinter’ – hence the name – it will sprint quickly outgrowing other evergreens.  Don’t have to wait a long time for results. 4′ ht x w.  Vibrant, green foliage is robust.  Upright habit with rounded compact nature.  Holds color in winter.  Replaces ‘Winter Gem’.  An excellent container evergreen

***Evaluate for leaf-miner

                 Chamaecyparis ‘Gold Mops’

                 ‘Fillifera Aurea Nana’ (a vertical form of thread-leaf)

Microbiota decussata, (Russian Cypress)

                 Versatile, spreading conifer.  Makes a delightful shrub boarder or outstanding ground cover in your rock garden.  Also a good choice for shady places where other evergreens may not thrive as well.  A new variety ‘Celtic Pride’ is cold hardy to zone 2.  Rusty orange fall color.  Sun/part shade

Picea pungens procumbens

                 a beautiful deep blue spruce ground cover.  **Explore the many new miniature and dwarf varieties of evergreens for foliage and shape

Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’


          The perennial of the year is Asclepias tuberosa   Butterfly Weed

          Herb of the year Coriander/Cilantro

          Annual of the year Proven Winners Supertunia Vista Bubblegum

          The National Garden Bureau has declared 2017 The Year of the Pansy


·       One of my favorite Lavenders is Lavendula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’.  Introduced and developed by Peace Tree Farm in 2012. Named “A must grow perennial” in 2013 by Better Homes & Gardens.

Rose ‘Eden’

·       Created in 1985 and ahead of it’s time.  2006 selected as World’s Favorite Rose, the highest title a rose can be granted.  Included in the Rose Hall of Fame


Perennials -plant low varieties in mass

Silver/Grey Herbs

                 an outstanding ground cover in mass.  They love hot rocks/edges New short Silver Brocade – Artemesia ‘Quick Silver’ (6”-10”)


                 ‘Waterperry Blue’ – Excellent edger, stages other plants well.   Burgundy leaves in fall

                 liwanensis – more dense foliage and shiny than Waterperry

                 oltensis – shorter compact stems/leaves but a good rock creeper with bright royal blue flowers


                 Containers and Window Boxes   —-    Replant in the garden beds

                 Use quality silks with real (like Tulips that shed so quickly)

                 Add accent twigs or architecture to the container

                 Plant in a shape in mass – or make “ a river” of one bulb interrupted with rotating clumps of another type along the edges of the river

                 Use to stage your spring blooming trees



A unique fresh look by mixing zones – I use many tropicals with perennials and

annuals in my containers and beds. Tropicals can create more exotic show. (banana plants,  Colocasia, Cordyline in bright yellow chartreuse, brilliant wine, red/green/white


                 Musa Ensete / Red Banana – The red is very dramatic; immediate impact

                 Colocasia – many leaf varieties with good texture and big impact


                 ‘Lemon Lime’

                 ‘Red Sister’

                 Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’

                 Phormium – from New Zealand;  reclassified from Agavaeae – closely related to daylily

                 Stromanthe sanguinea (tropical ginger NOT EDIBLE) Tri-Color & Variegated     Keep in moist semi-shade to shade

                 Annual Penstemon – LOVE LOVE THESE – So many colors – attracts hummingbirds and hummingbird moth

                 Appleblossom – white with coral tips and buds

                 Carilla Rose – purple with magenta pink on buds and backside of petals – white throat

                 Cha Cha Lavender – lavender petals and buds with blue hues – white throat

                 Edna – a rich red with white throat

                 Rose Quartet–  true pink with white throat



                 Illumination Series – if you have not tried this your missing out

                 Result of breeding Digitalis with a relative Isoplexis from the the Canary Islands

                 Still to be treated as an annual but big, vigorous, long-blooming with beautiful colors.

                 Won high honors – Plant of the year at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show and Greenhouse Grower’s award 2013 Award of Excellence. 

                 Grows 3′ x 18”

                 ‘Berry Canary’


                 ‘Ruby Glow’


Work to find unique growers

Work with your landscaper to order the unusual

Ask your local retail nursery