Attracts Hummingbirds

See also: Herbaceous PerennialsNative Plants
The garden industry's persistent habit of passing off magenta flowers as red is an old and nefarious trick. Happily, there are a number of truly red-flowered plants. Monarda 'Jacob Cline' is a winner.

bee balm Jacob Cline

Monarda 'Jacob Cline'

Bee Balm 'Jacob Cline' (Monarda didyma) rivals cardinal flower as one of the truest and deepest red flowers of summer . Difficult to photograph accurately, 'Jacob Cline' is the best of the bee balm clan, relatively mildew-resistant and as smoldery as the deepest, darkest red rose.

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See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Honestly I was just wandering around the Georgia Botanical Garden when I was first introduced to Cestrum 'Orange Peel'. The name is far too cute for this tough and undemanding plant that thrives in the heat of summer.

Cestrum 'Orange Peel'

Cestrum 'Orange Peel' - garden perennial for sunny exposures. Click for larger.

Cestrum 'Orange Peel' bears flowers faintly reminiscent of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), coming into bloom just as butterfly weed finishes. Cestrum 'Orange Peel' is extremely long-flowering, from early summer into late fall.

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See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Before covering the essential goodness of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in detail, I pass on the best butterfly weed tip I know: Butterfly weed emerges late in spring. It is by far the number one perennial I (perennially) edit from the garden by accident in early spring before it has a chance to emerge.

butterfly weed - Acslepias tuberosa

Butterfly weed in flower.

Almost impossible for enthusiastic gardeners is to simply leave the perennial bed undisturbed until the butterfly weed has emerged. Marking the spot where Asclepias tuberosa resides with twigs (my mother's choice during her gardening years) or stakes can make the difference.

You may find various showy cultivars of butterfly weed at garden centers but many are not reliably hardy. As with American columbine, the species version of butterfly weed is the most reliable and in my opinion the most beautiful.

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See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Husker Red is a selected cultivar of Penstemon digitalis, an adaptable and easy to grow garden perennial native to the eastern half of North America. Many gardeners don't think about penstemon in the garden and perhaps they should.

Husker Red penstemon is native, drought tolerant, reliably perennial, and is attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

penstemon husker red

Husker Red penstemon is native, tough, and attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

Husker Red penstemon grows well in poor soil. Gardeners starting out in a new garden with soil that has yet to reach the tilth that years of composting will eventually bring can be immediately successful in gardening should they choose to plant Husker Red penstemon.

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See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Known as indian pink or indian pinkroot, Spigelia marilandica is a somewhat rare native perennial of great ecological and aesthetic value. Indian pink is attractive to hummingbirds and is a long-flowering herbaceous perennial that will grow in the shade garden.

indian pinkroot, indian pink

Indian pink - Spigelia marilandica

Indian pink is native to a large portion of the southeastern United States. I've seen Spigelia marilandica growing and flowering happily in the garden in heavy shade, and it is beautiful at the edge of woodland areas where morning sun or filtered light brings out the best in the maroon-red flowers.

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See also: Native Plants
There is no finer large shade tree for the American garden than Liriodendron tulipifera. Native to vast tracts of eastern North America, Liriodendron tulipifera is the largest growing hardwood east of the Mississippi River.

Tulip tree gets big, so you need space in the garden to accommodate it.

Liriodendron tulipifera - Tulip tree in flower. Click for larger.

Liriodendron tulipifera - Tulip tree in flower plus leaf detail. Click for larger.

Known widely as tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera is also called tulip tree, yellow poplar, and my favorite, fiddle tree. Liriodendron tulipifera is not a true poplar, but part of the magnolia family. The 'tulip' refers not to the flowers, but to the shape of the leaves, which are said to resemble tulips (I don't see it).

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See also: Herbaceous Perennials
I waited an entire year to photograph foxglove Emerson (Digitalis purpurea 'Emerson'). I've grown Emerson for some time, but never photographed it well. Emerson is arguably the finest of the biennial foxgloves.

Introduced by the peerless garden nursery Goodness Grows, Emerson foxglove has elegant blooms held on stately, strong stems that can get upwards of 4 feet tall by the time all is said and done. The flowers open creamy yellow, but mature to white. It is one of the all-time greats.

Digitalis purpurea Emerson

The finest of the foxgloves, Emerson is stately, tall, and there is nothing like it in the evening shade garden. American columbine is in the background.  Click for larger.

Emerson is a cultivar of Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove). Comments below regarding the growth and culture of Emerson generally apply to all Digitalis purpurea varieties.

Foxglove is a biennial that blooms for 4-6 weeks from mid-spring to very early summer. It is the one plant in the garden I replant every year. Buy and plant young foxglove in fall if you can. It will flower the next spring as a two year old plant. If you choose to plant from seed, a basal clump will form the first year and the foxglove will flower the second year. Do not worry about winter.

Continue reading ‘Foxglove ‘Emerson’ – Digitalis purpurea’

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Golden columbine gets bigger and bushier than the more graceful and delicate American columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Like American columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha is an herbaceous perennial native to the United States. Golden columbine's flowers are also larger than American columbine's, reaching  2-3 inches long.

golden columbine

Golden columbine is superb in the spring perennial garden. Click for larger.

Golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) is native to the southwestern United States. It has pale lemon yellow flowers that border on ethereal. Leaves are three-lobed. Golden columbine is a clumpy grower, reaching up to three feet tall and wide.

Golden columbine can handle full sun to part shade. I recommend you plant it in a place that is in the shade at the times you are most likely to be in the garden.

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See also: Native Plants
A red buckeye I planted years ago was the first to yield actual buckeye nuts. I gave one buckeye nut to my son and another to my daughter. The buckeye nuts are supposed to bring good luck.

That same red buckeye once got weed whacked by an over-exuberant weed whacker guy and yet grew back the next year. Aesculus pavia, the red or firecracker buckeye, is no quitter. It's a winner.

Aesculus pavia - Red Buckeye

Aesculus paavia, red buckeye, is native to the eastern U.S. Click for larger.


Native to the eastern United States, Aesculus pavia is a small tree or large shrub of spreading open habit. If you want a big buckeye, yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra) is the largest of the buckeye clan.

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It's April in Georgia, so upcoming garden musings may be a little azalea- and dogwood-centric. Without further ado, the subject at hand is the Korean azalea Poukhanense (Rhododendron yedoense 'Poukhanense').

Korean azalea Poukhanense is hardy to Zone 4, so northern gardeners who dream of azaleas in their gardens should take a good look.

korean azalea Poukhanense

Korean azalea Poukhanense has delicate flowers, but it is a tough garden plant. Click for larger.

Regarding hardiness in northern climates, Poukhanense azalea will be deciduous. Even in southern gardens I notice some leaf drop during winter, although down here I would still resolutely consider Poukhanense evergreen. Foliage may turn a beautiful reddish-orange in the fall.

Flowers are of the softest lilac, appearing shell pink in the golden light of late afternoon. Blooms are classic funnel shape, and Korean azalea Poukhanense blooms in April in the south and May at its northern reaches.

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