Tips from Garden Tours 2021

It’s been great fun to be on garden tours again in 2021 after a year off during the pandemic. As always, I’m learning a lot from the wonderful gardeners who open their yards to visitors. Here are three tips from garden tours this year:

Chartreuse is a Power Color

My sister and I took the North Oaks Garden Tour last week, and the plant she ended up buying after seeing it in a garden was ‘Sun King’ aralia. I already have two in my garden and love them. ‘Sun King’ was one of the star plants during the St. Anthony Park Garden Club tour earlier this year, too. ‘Sun King’ holds its bright chartreuse color in shade and it stands out where ever it is. In ideal conditions, the plant will grow to 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. One thing to note is that it does take awhile to emerge in spring. (I thought for sure mine had died this spring, but they finally came up in late May and look great.) The plant also takes three years to reach full size.

sun king aralia in host garden

‘Sun King’ aralia brightens shade gardens.

While ‘Sun King’ is wonderful, there are other chartreuse leaved plants that work well in northern gardens. ‘Tiger Eyes’ sumac is a long-time favorite of northern gardeners with it’s petite size and chartreuse leaves. Of course, there are lots of coral bells (Heuchera) with chartreuse leaves, such as Lemon Love or Twist of Lime.  Other options include ‘Lemon Lace’ elderberry and any of the dozens of coleus with chartreuse foliage.

If you have a shady, slightly dark spot, consider adding some chartreuse to power it up.

Repeat Plants for  a Cohesive Look

pink phlox

Repeating a plant, such as phlox, adds a cohesive look to your garden.

dress art hung on brown fence

Who knew? It’s made of trim leftover from a remodeling project.

Our Northern Gardener By Design columnist, Diane McGann, often recommends repetition as key to a cohesive design—whether it’s a color, a design element or a plant. Repetition certainly worked in a beautiful Excelsior garden I visited as part of the Carver-Scott Master Gardener tour in July. This well-cared for landscape used phlox, bee balm and lilies throughout. The repetition of those plants in several garden beds and borders pulled the landscape together.

It didn’t hurt that this garden also had a lovely entrance, a distinct border supplied by a wooden fence and art throughout the space. I really liked the dress on a fence that the owners made using leftover trim from a remodeling project!

Plant for Pollinators

We say this a lot here, but if you plant it, they will come and you’ll enjoy watching pollinators and knowing your helping our fellow creatures. I saw many examples of planting for pollinators on the garden tours, from the bee house below in the midst of a pollinator-friendly landscape in North Oaks to pollinators buzzing and swooping all over a large landscape in Prior Lake. Creating a habitat for pollinators with the right plants, water and places to nest and overwinter is easy and rewarding.

bee house

Some native bees will nest in a bee house like this.

monarch butterfly on sunflower

Plant it and they will come!



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