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Shade Perennials for Every Garden

On a hot summer day, there are few activities more satisfying than a meander among the plantings of my shade garden. The cooler colors and play of shadows in the textured foliage of these plants is a like a soft breeze flowing through the yard. Some of my favorite plants that contribute to this effect are:

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Got Sun

A Treasure of Troughs

We are so lucky to have Brian Coleman sell his wonderful, creative troughs at the plant sale this year. And, once again, Brian is generously donating a planted trough to our raffle (reason enough to buy those raffle tickets, but the other prizes are equally terrific!).

Tropical Temptresses

Can’t get enough Cannas this season!

The rage for tropicals in the landscape continues, further heightened by PHS featuring plants from Hawaii at the Flower Show this year. There’s no easier tropical to grow than cannas. The leaves alone offer valuable structure and color in the garden: nice and big, intense color rising 3-4 feet and staying healthy looking all summer. Then, the lascivious blooms starting in midsummer, towering for weeks above the leaves. Ooo Ooo. In your flower bed or as a thriller in a big container, you need to plant cannas this year, Plus remember, you can just lift them up in the fall and store them for another year of color, so you’re really investing in a perennial when you you bring one (or more, please) home.

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Perfect Perennials

A One-Two Punch in the Fight against Deer

If you haven’t discovered Amsonia yet, this is the year to do it! We’re featuring two different native species and one or the other -- or both -- will become your favorite perennial by the end of the summer, not in small part because deer just stay away from both. Amsonia hubrichtii confidently bushes out to a 3 foot by 3 foot rounded clump of threadlike foliage that moves in waves with the breeze. In the spring, it sports pale blue flowers all over it’s tips, resulting in the common name ‘Blue Star’. Who doesn’t like blue in the garden? It draws you closer and it makes every other color pop. A tidy filler for the rest of the season, it puts on another show at the end of fall, when it turns a glorious orangey yellow for several weeks. Amsonia tabernaemontana (sounds like Mormon Tabernacle choir) is the popular little brother, getting to be only half the height with just as much impact. Darker green leaves and darker blue flowers, it also blooms a bit longer and turns a nice yellow in the fall. ‘Blue Ice’ has just been named Perennial Plant of the Year by the Garden Club of New Jersey.

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The Year of the Heuchera

The National Garden Bureau is calling for 2012 to be the year of the Heuchera. Commonly known as Coral Bells, Heucheras have been popular since the 1700's because of their ease to grow, adaptability and good looks. They are hardy to zone 4 and considered to be deer resistant.

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Native Plants for our Gardens

Container Gardening, Some Good Ideas

Container gardening is so rewarding. The small scale, provided you don’t go crazy with the number of containers, is manageable. And experimentation is easier since you don’t have to dig holes. Transplanting is easier when you change your mind about a plant’s position.

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Plant Sale Sneak Preview

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 14 at 10:00am at the Arboretum’s Haggerty Education Center for a sneak peak at some of the great plant selections found at the Friends 2012 Plant Sale. Sue Acheson and Ilona Ontscherenki, plant sale co-chairs, have selected their personal favorites, the hottest new plants as well as some plants that should reside in every garden no matter how grand or small.

This is a chance to get the scoop on some of this year’s most sought after plants. You will get to see pictures of many of our best choices and get some cultural information as well.

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Looking at Your Garden With New Eyes

Time to replace, refresh, renew and replant our gardens after a year of extremes that seems to have changed everyone's landscape in some way. Many gardens were either heavily damaged or destroyed due to Hurricane Irene or the Halloween snowstorm or trees and shrubs have outgrown their space or outlived their usefulness. A garden is never static and sometimes we need to look at our gardens with new eyes. Perhaps the ravages of Mother Nature can be turned into a new adventure for the gardener.

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