It wasn’t until last spring that I saw changes in what plants were being bought. I found new gardeners wanted bulletproof plants like those grown long ago. With a huge choice of plants for sale I watched the Shasta daisy sell out with surprise. You see, many of my customers were moms with young families and little time to spend tending plants. They want to garden but want to succeed at it. I also found it was important to support their growing efforts with advice long after the plants left with them. By offering advice regularly they feel more confident at gardening. Today I thought I would look at plants I would recommend for their gardens, ones that have shown the test of time. Yes, they may be old-fashioned but they are tough.
Sedum Autumn Joy is a good choice for new gardens. It’s fairly drought tolerant once established, has pretty pink flowers in summer and the flowers can be left on the plant for winter interest. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ likes full sun and a well-drained soil. Its flat flower heads are loved by bees so it attracts pollinators to the garden.
Rudbeckia is a stalwart in my garden with its bright yellow daisy-like flowers in late summer. This plant continues to bloom until late October and pairs nicely with Asters for late fall colour. It tends to bloom when other summer flowers start to fade.
Heathers are a must have plant in the garden. They can not only be planted in the ground but used in containers as well. Heathers are actually members of the Calluna family and its cousin the Heaths belong to the Erica family but the name heather is often used for both just to confuse us. Heathers are evergreen and come in many foliage colours to add to their display of tiny bell-shaped flowers in white, pinks and purples. Heathers do best in an acidic soil like the soil we have in the Pacific Northwest. Out of all the plants in the garden, the heathers are the ones still blooming at -7C. Even the winter Jasmine has been damaged by the cold temperatures. So if you are looking for a bullet proof plant, look no further.
Blueberries a wonderful choice if you are looking for an ‘all seasons of interest’ plant. It has tiny white flowers in spring, berries in summer, bright reddish-purple fall colour in fall and bright red stems in winter. Blueberries love a slightly acidic soil. I don’t add anything to my soil around my plants and they produce a bumper crop of berries each year.
Shasta daisies are still popular for the garden. Its loved for its reliability and fullness of bloom.
Grasses are becoming more popular each year with meadow gardens being trendy. I like this planting of grasses for its pink seed heads and the movement it adds to the garden when there is a slight breeze. I find grasses so tactile. I want to touch them as I walk by. Choose your grasses carefully and avoid the ones that run in the garden. Aggressive grasses are hard to remove once established.
Hens and chicks are members of the Sempervivum family of succulent plants and are easy for first time gardeners. Check out this brick I planted with succulents. These hens and chicks have been planted in this brick for several years. If they can survive here they are definitely bulletproof plants for your garden. They can grow in shallow soils and in rock gardens. Succulents come in a range of colours. Be sure to check their hardiness zone on the plant tags so you don’t buy something that will perish in winter.
If you have a shady garden what better plant to use but the popular Hosta. Hostas come in a huge range of colours and will fill a shady garden with lots of colour. Try visiting gardens to see which ones will fit your landscape as some can grow to five feet across. Hostas are tolerant of both dry and wet locations. They are used mainly for their foliage colours but do have flowers in shades of white and purple.
I have a garden full of hardy Geraniums. If you are looking for a drought resistant plant, this is one of the best. Above is Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ which tends to ramble about the nearby shrubs with a mind of its own. For first time gardeners I would recommend Geranium ‘Rozanne’ for the garden with its beautiful flowers and compact habit. It’s a perfect front of the border plant. Geraniums will grow best in areas with part sun to part shade.
Marigolds often remind us of our grandmothers garden but you know she was pretty smart. Marigolds are annuals but will bloom from May until frost giving you more bang for your buck than any perennial. I like using Marigold ‘Lemon Gem’ as it has a more delicate appearance with its fern-like leaves. Its soft yellow flowers are lemon scented and they can be planted in the ground and in containers. Lemon Gem Marigolds grow to about 12″ high and if pinched back they will branch out.
Getting started in gardening needn’t be difficult. Use a few basic easy to grow plants to get you started and add a new one each year. Share extra plants with friends and trade for others.