Easy to Grow

Excellent plants for gardening beginners (and experts).

See also: Complete List of Garden Roses
I chose eight. I always choose eight. I've seen a lot of roses over a lot of years. These are the ones I would plant if my life depended on their success. They are for the most part resoundingly disease resistant. They are not just tough. They are also beautiful.

Belinda's Dream Rose1. Belinda's Dream

Dr. Robert Basye's masterpiece, Belinda's Dream is stunning from bud through bloom. Belinda's Dream has excellent disease resistance. Outstanding heat tolerance. The flowers are large, to 5". It's not perfect: Belinda's Dream has a lot of petals and may ball in cool, damp climates.

A worthy rose to start our list. Learn more.


Carefree Beauty Rose2. Carefree Beauty

Highly disease resistant shrub rose developed by Dr. Griffin Buck (Iowa State University), Carefree Beauty is highly disease resistant and blooms from Spring through to frost. They say it gets to three feet. Don't believe it...I've seen it to six on an extremely old rose at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Extremely winter hardy. Learn more. Continue reading ‘Top Eight: Disease Resistant Roses’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials, Peony Bowl of Beauty
I find peonies such as Pillow Talk achingly beautiful to look at and very difficult to photograph. Lots of petals and a cruelly short bloom time creates a narrow window of opportunity. Occasionally I stumble onto a worthwhile image and off we go...

peony pillow talk

Click for larger (please...I don't take many good shots of peonies).

Pillow Talk was released in 1974 and won a gold medal from the American Peony Society twenty years later. Such staying power says something. You can view the entire list of gold medal winners here.

Continue reading ‘Peony – Pillow Talk’

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.

Continue reading ‘Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ – Bee Balm’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials, Native Plants
It's December, which means time to write. One of the first essays I wrote on the subject of perennial gardening was this brief introduction to purple coneflower. Landscape architects and native plant specialists may gravitate to the less often seen pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida), but it says something about a plant when it is instantly recognizable from coast to coast. From childhood onward we know purple coneflower in the American landscape.

purple coneflower summer garden

Echinacea purpurea

One of the things I noticed this past year about purple coneflower in our own gardens is how little I thought about it when it came to fertilizing, pruning, watering, staking, and on and on. So many of our garden plants seem to exist to give us something to do. Once established, purple coneflower is reliable for both us and the goldfinches, and all we have to do is show up.

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.

Continue reading ‘Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’’

See also: Native PlantsHerbaceous Perennials
Introduced in 1995, and often sold to gardeners as an annual, Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' will come back some years. 'Short-lived perennial' is the catch-all term for plants that may or may not return each year. Indian Summer is the showiest black-eyed susan I am aware of, with golden yellow petals on flowers that can reach over 8" across.

Rudbeckia hirta Indian Summer

Ruckbecka hirta 'Indian Summer'. Click for larger.

Rudbeckia hirta is native to the eastern United States. Indian Summer, along with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm', is easily found at your local garden nursery.

Continue reading ‘Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Hemerocallis fulva, tawny or orange daylily, has been planted in American gardens forever it seems. As you drive rural roads during early summer, the flashes of orange you see along the side of the road or in abandoned rural farmsteads are almost certainly Hemerocallis fulva (or perhaps Asclepias tuberosa - butterfly weed).

Hemerocallis fulva flower

Hemerocallis fulva flower detail. Click for larger.

Watch out, as Hemerocallis fulva will take over a bed completely. Choose where you plant orange daylily in the garden wisely, in places where it may spread and colonize the area completely. If you need to control erosion or have a weedy spot, tawny daylily is an apt choice.

Continue reading ‘Hemerocallis fulva – Tawny Daylily’

See also: Garden Roses
'The Fairy' rose is grown in many gardens eighty years after its introduction and with good reason. 'The Fairy' is a tough, gorgeous garden rose that will help even the beginning gardener succeed. Covered with small pink roses (1"-2") in wave after wave, 'The Fairy' rose is almost unstoppable.

Garden rose 'The Fairy'

The Fairy - Polyantha garden rose. Flowers are only 1 1/2" wide but profuse. Click for larger.

'The Fairy' rose is a wonderful choice for gardeners who refuse to spray. Disease resistance is outstanding. Despite the diminutive name and flowers, 'The Fairy' is a vigorous grower, with canes that sprawl and arch in all directions. Highly recommended garden rose.

Continue reading ‘‘The Fairy’ Rose’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
Betony (Stachys officinalis) is in the same genus as the well-known garden perennial lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina). Betony is a reliable and hardy herbaceous perennial that should be found more often in gardens.

Stachys officinalis - betony

Betony is an easy to grow perennial with a long season of bloom in the garden. Click for larger.

Betony is easy to grow, winter hardy zones 4-9, and will rebloom throughout the season if the flower stalks are cut back after each wave of blooms. Stachys officinalis is attractive to all kinds of fauna, including butterflies and bees.

Continue reading ‘Betony – Stachys officinalis’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials
A stalwart of the perennial garden, golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria, syn. Cota tinctoria) bears beautiful golden flowers in spring. I like tough plants with lacy foliage...something about the juxtaposition of appearance and true nature is compelling.

golden marguerite

Garden perennial golden marguerite is a solid choice for the xeric garden. Click for larger.

Golden marguerite is a long-flowering perennial if cut back after each wave of flowering. Golden marguerite tolerates poor soils and prefers lots of sun. If you give golden marguerite too much shade and too rich soil, it may sprawl in the garden. Anthemis tinctoria is an excellent choice for xeric gardens.

Continue reading ‘Golden marguerite – Anthemis tinctoria’