Trees and shrubs are the backbone of most gardens. They provide height, structure and (sometimes) interest all year long. But if your garden is smaller—as mine is—finding right-sized shrubs is a challenge. That’s when I turn to perennials that act like shrubs. These are perennials with some height (3 feet or more) and some heft.…

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perennial not cut down

As fall plods on and more plants start to brown or whither, the urge to “clean up just a little” is strong, and for many gardeners the question of whether to cut back perennials or leave them standing is one they consider every year.  There is a lot of ground between those who clean every…

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Shasta daisies are one of those flowers that just say, “Summer.” With their white and gold ray flowers, standing upright above green foliage, they are a plant many gardeners love. They are a heritage plant, too, having been introduced in 1901 by famed plant breeder Luther Burbank. Burbank introduced more than 800 hybrid plants in…

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Despite our late start this spring, many ornamental plants seem to be on schedule and the show of June blooms (peonies, irises, etc.) was spectacular. What’s blooming now? I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning to see what was blooming in the middle of June. Here’s what I saw:     Tucked amid…

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I tour a lot of gardens in the summer, and sometimes, you just keep noticing the same plant showing up in one beautiful garden after another. There’s something right about that plant. This summer, the plant was golden Japanese spikenard or techincally Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’. This bright plant grows best in shady areas where…

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Fall can be stunning in the northern garden, with ornamental grasses, sedum and asters taking center stage and complimenting the changing foliage of trees and shrubs. As delightful as they are, it’s the unexpected fall beauties that I’ve been noticing recently. Here are four perennials to consider adding to your garden for fall interest: Amsonia…

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As we get passed the middle of August (arghh!!), it’s time to consider whether to deadhead or not. Deadheading is the practice of removing the spent flowers on plants – usually by snapping off a fading flower with your fingers or snipping off a stem with a bypass pruner. Deadheading has two main purposes. First,…

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I have to admit it—any plant with the word “thistle” in its name makes me nervous. Canada thistle was a persistent weed in my previous garden. Globe thistle (Echinops rito) is a different story. A native of Europe, it adapts well to our Midwestern soil and climate. It may self-seed but it is not aggressive,…

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Groundcovers solve a number of garden problems, from covering bare spots to preventing erosion to covering an area that is too steep to mow. While most are grown for their foliage, many have colorful blooms during part of the year. Back in 2012, we highlighted four favorite groundcovers: Thyme, wild ginger, ajuga and sweet woodruff.…

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With our warmer than average spring, perennials are starting to emerge. Now is a good time to begin a bit of spring perennial care. Here are five tips: Cut back last year’s growth. I’m on the fence on when it is best to do this. Many gardeners who are interested in helping beneficial insects, say it…

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