Plant Profile: Purple Prairie Clover

This article by Lynn Steiner originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. Purple prairie clover is a delicate-looking plant with unique rose-purple to crimson flowers. The densely packed flowers bloom in a ring around the flower head, starting at the bottom and working up to the top. It starts blooming in early summer…

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5 Perennials That Act Like Shrubs

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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Leaving Perennials Standing: Pros and Cons

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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Plant Profile: Shasta Daisy

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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June Blooms, 2018: What’s Blooming Now?

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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Plant Profile: Sun King Japanese Spikenard

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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Four Unexpected and Lovely Fall Perennials

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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Should You Still Deadhead?

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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Plant Profile: Globe Thistle

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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Great Groundcovers

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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