|A Great Guide to the Gardens|
One outstanding feature of the Demonstration Gardens is this kiosk, which displays two key panels. The panel below displays a map of Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park and all 36 gardens that make up the Springfield Botanical Gardens. The second panel lists details of the individual gardens.
Note: If you click on the two images below then enlarge them slightly in your browser, you should be able to read the information.
|First Signs of Spring|
In early March these jewel-like dwarf iris (Iris reticulata) appeared amidst the dead Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina). Rising from one of our earliest spring-blooming bulbs, they grow to 6 inches tall in sun or partial shade and naturalize wonderfully in the Ozarks. Note: Because the bulblets can take years to mature, many gardeners plant a few anew each year.
|A Cheery Spray of Crocus|
This isolated spray of brilliant golden crocus is one of our favorite photos and testimony that the Demonstration Gardens are a photographer's dream for their amazing diversity of colorful plant life.
|A Blue Hyacinth|
Blue is many gardeners' favorite color in hyacinths, but they also come in come in pink, as shown above, and red, orange, salmon, yellow, purple, and white. They like well-drained soil and sun or partial shade. Hayacinths are also early bloomers--this one reached its peak on March 20th--and nearly all are beautifully fragrant.
|A Pink Hyacinth|
If it's edible-looking spring flowers you like, how about this sumptuous Pink Hyacinth? It's for looking only, though, as hyacinth blooms are toxic if eaten.
The gardens' real parade of color begins when liberal plantings of spring bulbs reach full bloom, as with these tulips and grape hyacinths showing their best in mid-April.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a remarkably striking native plant that blooms in early spring. Its flowers are a very showy bright-white with prominent yellow stamens. Each flower is about 2 inches wide and opens in the sun and closes at night, lasting about 2 days. Bloodroot thrives in moist, humusy, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Growing to 10 inches tall, it spreads to form colonies. The name comes from the blood-red juice of the root, which can be used as a dye.
It would be hard to find a more likable planting of daffodils. These are the 'Pheasant's Eye' variety, beloved for the beautiful contrast between its tiny yellow, red-ringed cup and swept-back, brilliant-white petals
|A Border of Daffodils|
A marvelous new addition to the Demonstration Gardens is a long border made up entirely of daffodils. Planted along this rail fence at the south side of the Gardens, it displays most if not all of the 13 daffodil types: Trumpet; Large-Cupped; Small-Cupped; Double; Triandrus; Cyclamineus; Jonquilla; Tazetta; Poeticus; Bulbocodium; Split-Cupped; and Miscellaneous; Species, Wild Variants, and Wild Hybrids. To see the remarkable results when the daffodils finally appeared and bloomed, click here.
|'Prairie Fire' Flowering Crabapple|
It would be hard to find a more brilliant note of spring in the garden than the 'Prairie Fire' Flowering Crabapple (Malus x 'Prairie Fire'). It features vivid red-purple flowers and very attractive dark-green, glossy leaves that turn vivid orange in fall. This gorgeous tree grows to 20 feet tall and 25 feet wide and the spreading crown becomes rounded with maturity. For all of these charms and its high disease resistance, many gardeners and landscapers regard it as the best of all small trees for the landscape.
|'Twilight Bluebells' Baptisia|
'Twilight Bluebells' Baptisia (Baptisia australis x 'Twilight Bluebells') and related varieties are more commonly known as False Blue Indigo. We think this plant may actually be 'Twilight Prairieblues', a lovely perennial plant that grows to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide and bears early spring flowers and attractive seedpods in late summer. Whatever the name, it's a clearly a winner for beautiful blue color in garden beds and borders.
Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa) is an especially lovely presence in any garden by virtue of its neat, oval shape and cheering profusion of soft pink flowers in early spring. A multistemmed perennial shrub, it thrives in many soils and is drought tolerant. Given full sun it will grow to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Bonus: The leaves are pale green and also attractive in the garden.
The Master Gardeners Demonstration Gardens are a goldmine of beautiful garden scenes, and this is one of our favorites: a gorgeous Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) juxtaposed with the American flag. Star Magnolia is a deciduous tree that can grow to 20 feet tall with a 15-foot wide crown. It likes sun to partial shade. Its unique flowers appear in March and have a lovely fragrance. Some prefer to grow the plant as an oval or rounded shrub.
|The Star Magnolia Up Close|
A closer look at the crown of the Star Magnolia reveals the extraordinary shape of its blossoms..
|'Fujino Pink' Spirea|
Blooming in early April, 'Fujino Pink' Thunberg Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii 'Fujino Pink') is an exceptionally beautiful deciduous shrub with delicate, yellow-green foliage and gracefully arching branches filled with white blossoms lightly tinged with pink. It does best in sun but also performs well in light shade. The plant grows to 5 feet tall and as wide, tolerates drought, and requires some pruning to look its best. Common names include Thunberg Spirea, Breath of Spring Spirea, and Bridlewreath Spirea.
'Ogon' Spirea (Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon') in early April produces a great profusion of beautiful white blossoms on graceful, arching stems. The foliage is pale yellow green and finely textured and turns vivid orange in autumn. In full sun or light shade it grows to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It does require some pruning to look its best. Common names include Golden Thunberg's Spirea, Golden Bridlewreath Spirea, Willow Spirea. Note: 'Ogon' Spirea is a cultivar of 'Fujino Pink' Spirea (see above).
|Red Twig Dogwood|
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a beautifully upright shrub that bears white blossoms in May and bright red berries in the fall. Its attractive red twigs and branches make it a colorful winner in the winter landscape.
|A Wonderful Master Gardeners Plant Sale|
These plants are a tiny fraction of the thousands to choose from at the Annual Master Gardeners Plant Sale in late April every year in the Springfield Botanical Gardens at 2400 S. Scenic in Springfield, Missouri. Watch for this great opportunity to buy choice plants at absurdly reasonable prices. Note: It always starts at 7:30 a.m and lasts till the plants are gone.Our Advice: Arrive before 7:30 for the best choices.
|Reed Canary Grass|
Just beginning to grow in early spring is this Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea var. 'Picta'), a variegated ornamental grass that will bear showy white-to-pale-pink flowers in June and July. An engaging addition to the landscape, it can reach 4 feet in height and spread 5 feet. It does well in full sun to part shade with at least medium watering.
|'Red Fox' Veronica|
A gorgeous profusion of beautiful red flower spikes from spring to late summer makes 'Red Fox' Veronica (Veronica spicata 'Red Fox') a highly attractive presence in any garden. The plant grows vigorously in normal, clay, or sandy soils to 15 inches high and 14 inches wide. It also resists rabbits, and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. One common name: Speedwell.
|A 'Raspberry' Sage|
Raspberry Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Raspberry') is a dwarf perennial shrub native to Texas and Mexico whose bright raspberry flowers make it standout in every garden. Ideal for dry areas, it can reach 4 feet tall and as wide and flowers from spring to fall. It does best in full sun and must have well-drained soil. Hardy to zone 7, it needs protection to make it through winter in the Ozarks.
The Ox-Eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) can be a cheery presence in the garden with its abundance of white flowers with sunny yellow center. This meadow flower blooms in spring and summer.Though sold in nurseries for the garden, in the wild it's considered a noxious weed in many states. The plant can grow to 3 feet tall and and as wide and does well in average soils and sunny to partically shady exposures.
'Ramona' Clematis (Clematis 'Ramona') is a climbing vine that can reach 12 feet in height with a 3-6-foot spread and produces large, 7-inch-diameter pale lavender flowers from May into September. It likes full sun to part shade. This clematis is simply excellent for walls, trellises, arbors, porches, and other structures, and in addition makes an superb ground cover. Hot tip: 'Ramona' can also be trained to grow over and through large shrubs, stumps, or, for that matter, virtually anything to provide unusually beautiful, and novel, effects.
We couldn't find a label for this remarkable clematis but decided to include it anyway because, well, we can't imagine anything more purple. (We'll find out the variety and post it as soon as possible. Honest. We will. We really will.)
|'Madame Julia Correvon' Clematis|
'Madame Julia Correvon' Clematis (Clematis viticella 'Madame Julia Correvon') is a twining vine that produces a great abundance of beautiful pinwheel-shaped red-purple flowers beginning in July. It does best in full sun and fertile soil. To climb, it requires support, and a trellis is ideal. If not controlled it can reach 20 feet in length. If pruned in March to just above the first pair of healthy buds, its length will be 8-12 feet.
|Sweet Autumn Clematis|
Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) is a marvelous perennial climbing vine that blooms on new wood and in late summer is covered with masses of tiny, sweetly scented, star-like white flowers. Slow to start in the spring, once it gets going it can reach 20 feet tall. Attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies, it also produces silvery seedheads that provide winter interest. Another common name: Sweet Autumn Vine.
|Coral Bark Japanese Maple|
Famed for its red bark, the Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku') in spring sprouts finely cut light green leaves with reddish and pinkish tinges. In time the leaves turn medium green, then yellow and red in autumn. This most striking tree can reach 25 feet tall with a 20-foot spread. It does well in full sun or partial shade; in hot climates, however, it definitely prefers afternoon shade.
|'Sunny Border Blue' Veronica|
Deep-green foliage and violet-blue flower spikes make 'Sunny Border Blue' Veronica (Veronica spicata 'Sunny Border Blue') extra-attractive in the garden. With deadheading the plant will bloom all season long in sun or very light shade, reaching 24 inches tall by 18 inches wide in sun or partial shade. It's very effective at the front of the border and makes a superb mix with flowers in the yellow-to-orange spectrum, as with the Butterfly Weed in this photo.
|'Royal Candles' Veronica|
This virtually stunning little plant is 'Royal Candles' Veronica ('Veronica spicata x 'Royal Candles'), Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year in 2001. Sending forth a great many flower spikes of the richest blue from June to September, it grows into a mound 12-18 inches tall and as wide. It likes partial sun and moist soil. It does beautifully in the Ozarks and, as a bonus, responds beautifully to deadheading.
|'Strawberry Candy' Daylily|
'Strawberry Candy' is a delightfully attractive reblooming daylily, so attractive that 1998 it won the American Hemerocallis Society's highest award, the Stout Medal. We especially like it because to us it really does look strawberry-ice-creamy enough to eat. Superb in borders or in containers, it blooms in June and July and repeats in August and September. It grows to 26 inches tall and the flowers are about 4 1/2 inches wide, each lasting about 16 hours.
|'Missouri Memories' Daylily|
One of the loveliest daylilies we've ever seen began flowering in late June in the garden. 'Missouri Memories' is a reblooming daylily whose pale-pink hues, violet eye, and extended bloom time have made it a favorite of a great many gardeners. First introduced in 1992, it features flowers up to 6 inches wide on 24-inch scapes, or stems, and evergreen foliage. Note: If you find one for sale, act quickly, as it tends to sell out very early in the season.
|'Autumn Red' Daylily|
'Autumn Red' is an excellent choice for the garden, a reblooming daylily that reaches 3 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide in sun to part shade and produces deep-red, gold-throated flowers about 5 inches across in June through August. A nice bonus: Its elegant, fountain-like foliage is also uniquely attractive.
|'Longfields Twins' Daylily|
'Longfields Twins' is a gorgeous daylily that features very large, 6-inch-wide double flowers of uniquely delicate roseate-yellow coloration and an exceptionally sweet fragrance. A rebloomer, it grows to 26 inches tall and blossoms at midseason and then again in late summer.
Ready for a perfectly wonderful plant? Okay, Perilla Frutescens (Perilla frutescens Atropurpurea) is an annual herb of great beauty, with very dark purple, frilly leaves. It grows 2-3 feet tall and a foot wide in sun or shade and in late summer bears pretty lavender flowers. Apart from its appearance, it's grown world-wide for its unique, spicy flavor and is recommended especially for Japanese dishes. In the garden it makes a terrific accent plant or beautiful background for smaller flowers. A big treat: It reseeds wildly wherever it grows, but is easily pulled out where not wanted. One gardener we know loves it that Perillas pop up helter-skelter in his lawn, where he pulls some but lets many others continue to grow for what he considers a lovely, other-worldly effect. Perilla is also known commonly as Purple Basil, Beefsteak Plant, and Shiso.
Native to many states, Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is one of Missouri's most beautiful spring wildflowers. This species, Broad-leafed Spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera) is less commonly found in the wild, has larger, broader leaves, and flowers from May to August. Flowers can range in color from pale to dark blue and sometimes white. The plant prefers shade to part shade and grows to 3 feet tall and as wide. Other common names include Broad-leaved Spiderwort, Zig-Zag Spiderwort.
Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a perennial herb of legend that performs beautifully in today's gardens. A member of the aster family and one of the largest of all herbal plants, it grows 3-5 feet tall (some say 8 feet tall) and in summer bears an enormous profusion of highly picturesque, many-rayed, bright yellow flowers. The root of the plant is a rich source of inulin, a substance known since antiquity to have many beneficial properties. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.
|Elecampane Close Up|
A closer look at the flowers of Elecampane better shows the uniquely fine cut of their petals and orange centers.
|Blue Star Amsonia|
Blue Star Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) is a beautiful perennial wildflower that grows to 3 feet tall and as wide and features clusters of exceptionally beautiful, tiny, light-blue star-shaped flowers beginning in May. The plant likes full sun to part shade, is easy to grow, and tolerates some drought. Bonus: The flowers make good cut flowers and, even more favored by gardeners, the lance-shaped foliage turns a beautiful yellow in the fall. Other common names include Blue Star Dogbane, Bluestar, Amsonia Blue, and Star Amsonia.
|Arkansas Bluestar Amsonia|
The lovely, feathery foliage of Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii) make it a big favorite of many gardeners, and it goes on to bear an enormous profusion of beautiful light blue star-shaped flowers. An Arkansas native, it was named the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. (Note: To see it in full bloom, click here.)
|A Good Place to Relax|
This shady pergola and bench make a beautiful spot to relax and cool off while visiting the gardens. Facing the pergola is the complex's herb garden.
|'Fascination' Culver's Root|
'Fascination' Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination') is an herbaceous perennial that brings to the garden flowers of almost breathtaking beauty. Appearing in June, the flower spikes in color have been described as pink-purple, lavender, lilac, blue lilac, and otherwise, so feel free to come up with your own description. The plant itself does best in full sun to partial shade with adequate moisture, grows to 3 feet in height and 4 feet wide.
|'Fascination' Culver's Root Up Close|
Among its other charms, 'Fascination' Culver's Root is also very easy to grow and is exceptionally attractive to butterflies. In addition, it makes a superb cut flower.
|'Lucky Yellow' Lantana|
Blossoms of bright yellow and a neat, compact habit make the 'Lucky Yellow' Lantana (Lantana camarata 'Lucky Yellow') a cheery addition to any garden. Lantanas, which grow beautifully in the Ozarks, do well sun or part shade and can take dry soil. The "Lucky" series are considered dwarf lantanas. This one grows in a mound to about 15 inches high and as wide, making it perfect as edging for the border, or, for that matter, as a container plant. How can you lose?
|Pale Purple Coneflower|
One of our most beloved wildflowers, the Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) is an herbaceous perennial that grows to 3 feet tall by 1 1/2 feet wide and bears a great abundance of beautiful lavender flowers. Easy to grow, it thrives in average soils and tolerates drought, heat, humidity and poor soils. Note: In the fall the dark "cones" attract goldfinches to feed on their seed.
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) grow more quickly than regular chives and have a delicious, mild garlic-onion flavor. The flowers are borne in pleasing clusters on stalks up to 30 inches tall, much taller than the leaves. A perennial, its clumps can be divided and it also reseeds prolifically. Tip: The flowers can be a lovely addition to bouquets and floral arrangements
|'Purple Smoke' False Indigo|
'Purple Smoke' False Indigo (Baptisia australis 'Purple Smoke') is a happy accident, a highly attractive plant that began in 1990 as a chance seedling at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. It grows in a neat habit with appealing foliage to 4 feet tall with a similar spread. In April and May it produces spires of quite showy smoky-violet flowers. It does best in full sun and poorer soils. The dried, bean-like seedpods are appealing in dried flower arrangements.
Crocosmia 'Lucifer' (Crocosmia x Curtonus 'Lucifer') can be a most striking presence in the garden with its intensely red flowers. Growing from a bulb, it does best in full sun, blooms from June into August, and can grow to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The flowers are tubular and grow above attractive, deep green, swordlike foliage. The plant tolerates high summer heat and humidity, but in the Ozarks its hardiness is iffy as it will not survive temperatures below zero. Gardeners therefore advise digging up the bulbs and storing them over winter Crocosmia species plants are also often called Montbretia. Bonus: The flowers make superb cut flowers.
|'Lucifer' Up Close|
A closer view of the 'Lucifer' Crocosmia reveals the unusual configuration of each blossom. Crocosmia species plants are also often called Montbretia. Bonus: The blossoms make superb cut flowers.
Master Gardeners sometimes guide tours of the Demonstration Gardens, where a beautiful Purple Hyacinth Bean (LabLab purpureus) grows over this arbor. The striking vine does beautifully in the Ozarks, producing lovely, fragrant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and seedpods that are a glossy, vivid purple. Common names include Purple Hyacinth Bean, Egyptian Bean, and Indian Bean.
This lemon-colored lily with dark brown spots is likely the heirloom Yellow Turk's Cap (Lilium citronella). Turk's Cap lilies are so called because of their recurved petals. An Asiatic lily, it grows in full sun or partial shade to 4 feet or taller with 20 or more blooms per stem. A bonus: unlike most Asiatic lilies, the flowers are wonderfully fragrant.
|French White Lilac|
French White Lilac (Syringa vulgaris 'Alba'), also known as White French Lilac, is a marvelous hybrid shrub that in late spring and early summer features tall panicles of beautiful, intensely fragrant, pristine white blossoms. The plant should only be planted in full sun where at its best it can grow 12 feet tall and spread 9 feet. It does require some care, as it spreads by suckers and can be invasive, is quite leggy, and can attract damaging insects. A little care, however, will be rewarded with a magnificent ornamental.
Variegated Cannas are among the most striking plants one can add to the garden, and, as you can see, they do beautifully in the Ozarks. This specimen, the variety Canna 'Bengal Tiger', is one of the most popular of all cannas for its beautiful variegated leaves and vivid orange summer blossoms. It likes rich soil and full sun and if kept moist with timely, deep waterings can grow to 6 feet tall. Note: 'Bengal Tiger' originated at the Agri Horticultural Society of India in Bengal, India, in the 1960's. Tip: This 'Tiger' will also grow in aquatic gardens.
Many plants of the Rudbeckia species go by the name Brown-Eyed Susan. From the number of petals (13) on each bloom, we think this one is Rudbeckia fulgida, sometimes also called Orange Coneflower and sometimes Black-Eyed Susan--an enormously popular garden perennial that provides masses of brilliant golden color the summer long.
|'Robert Poore' Garden Phlox|
'Robert Poore' Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore') is a literally spectacular plant that bears an enormous profusion of gorgeous. vivid red-purple flowers in summer. With full sun and moist (not soggy) soil it grows rather quickly to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. A perfect plant for the cottage garden, perennial border, or landscape.
|'Robert Poore' Up Close|
The flowers of the 'Robert Poore' Garden Phlox are fragrant, attractive to hummingbirds, and make superb cut flowers. Note: If you were wondering, the plant is named for Mississippi ecological planner and landscape architect Robert Poore.
|'Roy Davidson' Pulmonaria|
Unlabeled in the garden when we first saw it, this is most likely 'Roy Davidson' Pulmonaria (Pulmonaria longifolia 'Roy Davidson'). A wonderful addition to the border in any shade garden, especially with hostas, it features very striking silver-specked foliage and flowers that open pink and gradually turn a lovely sky blue. Common names include Lungwort and Bethlehem Sage.
|Rainbow Knock Out Roses|
The Knock Out family of roses has all but revolutionized the role of roses in gardening and landscaping. The original red Knock Out introduced in 2000, for example, is today the most widely sold rose in North America. Easy to grow and extremely disease-and-pest resistant, Knock Outs bloom heavily from spring to frost, can be trimmed as desired, and are virtually self-cleaning. The Rainbow Knock Out Rose is justly a 2007 All America Rose Society winner for its abundance of beautiful coral-pink blossoms with yellow centers. More compact than other Knock Outs, it grows to 4 feet tall and as wide. In sum, it's a winner on all counts.
The aptly named 'Paprika' Yarrow (Achillea millefolium 'Paprika') is thought by many to be the prettiest and most colorful yarrow of all. From June into August it displays a great abundance of pink-to-hot-red flower clusters. It grows in an upright clump to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide and must have full sun to do its best flowering.
|'Viette's Little Suzy' Rudbeckia|
'Viette's Little Suzy' Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia speciosa) is a petite Black-Eyed Susan that grows only 12-18 inches tall with a foot-wide spread, which size makes it perfect for fronting borders or in containers. It blooms profusely from July to September, and in winter the foliage turns mahogany. A low-maintenance perennial, it thrives in full sun and average soils.
|A Beautiful Coral Bells|
This beautiful plant is mislabeled, which can happen in public gardens. It's actually a Coral Bells (Heuchera species, one of the dark purple varieties such as 'Amethyst Myst' or 'Black Beauty'. Coral Bells are low-growing, mounding perennials with showy foliage that provides season-long color. Colors and color mixes vary widely. Ideal for woodland gardens, they must have well drained soil. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Note: Their sun tolerance depends on the variety.
|'Palace Purple' Coral Bells|
'Palace Purple' Coral Bells (Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple') is so attractive and performs so well that it was the Perennial Plant Association's 1991 Perennial Plant of the Year. The leaves are a unique matte purple-bronze and in June and July it bears delicate white flowers that attract hummingbirds and make good cut flowers. It does best in neutral soil (pH 7) and full sun but in the Ozarks' summer heat and humidity should be grown in partial shade and away from afternoon sun. A great plant for the border, woodland garden, or rock garden.
Sea Holly (Eryngium planum) is a most unusual plant. A long-lived, thorny perennial thistle that from August through October virtually explodes in exquisitely beautiful, steely blue flowers. It loves full sun, tolerates drought, and grows in a nicely mounded habit to 36 inches high and 20 inches wide. It can also send out shoots to start new clumps. A superb pollinator, it attracts more different wasps and bees than any other plant we've seen.
|Sea Holly Up Close|
A closer look at the remarkable flowers of the Sea Holly. Those who grow it say to be sure and resist the temptation to deadhead the spiky flowers, which also provide great visual interest when dry.
Since these unlabeled Zinnias are 3 feet tall with fully double flowers, we suspect they're the 'Benary Giant' variety. Zinnias are unequaled for for season-long brilliant garden color. Easy to grow in average soil, they are somewhat pest-resistant but quite susceptible to mildew and fungus, so give them as much sun as possible, space for air circulation, and never water them from overhead.
One of Missouri's most beautiful wildflowers, Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) was the state flower until falsely blamed for causing hay fever. (The real culprit is Ragweed, which blooms at the same time.) This perennial prairie plant grows in full sun or part shade, blooms from August to October and attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Goldenrod has 67 species and several cultivated varieties. This variety is also known as Noble Goldenrod.
Astilbe (Astilbe spp.) is a deciduous shrub with beautiful, feathery flowers that come in many colors and varies in bloom time, leaf color, size, and shape. This remarkable dark burgundy specimen is most likely 'Key West' (Astilbe simplicifolia 'Key West'). Astilbes do well in exposures ranging from full shade to full sun, but soil must be moist and well-draining. For many gardeners they are unequalled for bringing color and texture to the shade garden. Common names include Feather Flower and False Spirea.
|Golden Sword Yucca|
Golden Sword Yucca (Yucca filamentosa 'Golden Sword') brings beautiful color and texture contrast to the garden with its rosettes of sharp, yellow-centered green leaves. Especially striking at the front of the perennial border, this evergreen plant forms clumps 3-4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. A "dry" plant, it thrives in sun or partial shade, tolerates drought, and must have good drainage. Bonus: When mature, in midsummer it bears spires of fragrant white flowers.
Fiery Sage, also known as Red Mountain Sage, is Salvia darcyi, one of the tallest perennial sages and most striking in the garden. It bears bright red flowers through summer and fall that hummingbirds love. Given full sun or partial shade it and grow to 4 feet tall or more and 20 inches wide.
Sapphire Sage (Salvia guarantica 'Sapphire Sage') is a beautiful plant with dark green foliage that bears an abundance of deep blue flowers from spring to frost. Given full sun or partial shade it can grow as tall as 5 feet with a 3-4 foot spread. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds and make superb cut flowers. Note: Hardly only to zone 7, it may survive the winter in much of the Ozarks.
|Snow Hill Meadow Sage|
'Snow Hill' Meadow Sage (Salvia nemerosa 'Snow Hill') is a gardener's delight for its compact size and ease of care. The plant grows to 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide and bears dense spikes of white flowers from early summer on. (Removing spent flowers prolongs bloom.) It likes full sun and is most effective in the border among brighter colors and in mass plantings.
Graceful, arching stems, lovely lavender-and-white color, and soft, downy foliage make Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) uniquely attractive in the garden. It can reach 4 feet in height with a similar spread. With full sun and plenty of room it will flower most abundantly in late summer. The flowers attracts butterflies and make superb cut flowers. Other common names include Mexican Bush Sage, Bushy Sage, and Velvet Sage.
Welsh Onion (Allium fistulosum) is in our opinion a wonderfully whimsical-looking plant. A perennial onion, if let grow to maturity it becomes a real eye-catcher in the garden, growing to about a foot in height if given full sun and well-drained soil. The plant is edible, often eaten as a green onion when 5-6 inches high, and a prominent ingredient especially in Asian and Jamaican cookery.The shoots also can be used in the same way as scallions in any dish.
|Welsh Onion Up Close|
A closer look at Welsh Onion in flower. Note: The
plant isn't really Welsh, but "Welsh" in this case is simply a
corruption of an Old English and German word meaning "foreign." Common
names today include Stone Leek, Spring Onion, Japanese Leek, and Japanese
One of our most wonderful and most abundant prairie wildflowers, Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum) can reach skyward to a height of 10 feet. The name comes from the fact that the large basal leaves stand upright with the edges aligned north and south. Though it looks like a sunflower, it belongs to a different family altogether. It thrives even in dry, rocky soils.
Vinca minor (the species and common name) is a trailing, vigorous, vining plant with lovely glossy green leaves and very pretty light blue flowers. It spreads rather quickly, rooting along the stems, to create a superb, dense ground cover. It can reach 6 inches tall and spread to 18 inches. It thrives in sun to partial shade and must have good drainage. Cultivars with different flower colors, variegated foliage, and double flowers are available. Common names include Periwinkle, Common Periwinkle, Lesser Periwinkle, Dwarf Periwinkle, Myrtle, and Creeping Myrtle.
|Joe Pye Weed|
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) belies its unfortunate name by in fact being a superb plant. A perennial native wildflower in many states including Missouri, it's altogether outstanding in the landscape or in the garden. It grows 5-7 feet tall by 2-4 feet wide in sun or part shade and from July through September bears a huge abundance of attractive, vanilla-scented mauve-pink flowers. Bonus: the flowers are wildly attractive to several Missouri butterflies. Oh, who was Joe Pye? A legendary herb doctor said to have used this plant to stop a typhus epidemic.
Plumbago Leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) seems a most awkward name for such a delicate-appearing plant. In late summer its neat, attractive foliage adds sprinklings of pale blue flowers. It can do well with as little as 2 hours of sun per day, spreads nicely, and can grow to 18 inches tall. An excellent plant for perennial borders or as a ground cover.
|A Pink Wonder|
We haven't been able to identify this unlabeled plant yet, but it's no less than a wonder. If you know its name, please give us a clue. All we can tell you for now is that it's lovely and stands almost 6 feet tall.
|Dark Foliage Dahlias|
Dark foliage dahlias are terrifically engaging plants for their combination of lovely flowers against a background of dramatic purple-to-black foliage. Though unlabeled, we're pretty sure this variety is 'Mystic Dreamer'. Below is another dark-foliage dahlia from the Xeriscape Garden in Springfield, Missouri, which we think is 'Happy Single Party', or 'HS Party'.
Dark foliage dahlia varieties include flowers in red, yellow, peach, rose, lavender, orange, white, and pink in varying shades and hues. The plants generally grow to 30 inches tall by 24 inches wide if given full sun. All, without exception, are garden standouts.
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache ruprestris Sunset Hyssop) is a wonder of a plant for its exquisite, finely textured foliage, subtle "sunset" or burnt-orange flower color, spice-and-licorice fragrance, and nectar-rich blossoms. A perennial, it can grow to 3 feet tall and half as wide, prefers sun, and tolerates poor soils. The trumpet-shaped flowers appear on spikes in late summer to fall and are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Other common names are Licorice Mint, Hummingbird Mint, Anise Hyssop, and Threadleaf Hyssop.
|And What, Pray Tell, Is This One?|
This most engaging little plant with such nicely rounded lavender flowers is another unlabeled one we don't know but would certainly like to. It grows to about two feet tall with a very open habit. If you have a clue, please let us know. Ah, but what would life be without a little mystery?
Golden Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold') is a perennial aromatic herb with distinctive yellow-green foliage and small yellow "button" flowers. It grows to 3 feet tall and unlike its cousin, the common tansy, spreads slowly and is not invasive. Gardeners love the brightness it brings to garden settings when growing among darker-foliage plants.
|'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymus|
'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety') is an evergreen shrub that features gorgeous, glossy green-and-white variegated leaves that take on pinkish tones as winter nears. The plant can grow to 5 feet tall with a 6-foot spread and can be trained to climb. It does well in full sun to part shade. The common name for Euonymus fortunei and its hybrids is Wintercreeper.
|Pee Gee Hydrangea|
PeeGee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is a beloved old-fashioned shrub that bears beautiful panicles of white flowers from midsummer to September. It does require pruning to maintain any preferable size, for if left unrestrained it can grow as tall as 25 feet with a 16-foot spread. A deciduous plant, it comes in several varieties. This variety, 'Tardiva', is considered especially appealing for its longer, more open flower clusters.
|The Pee Gee Close Up|
A closer look at a 'Tardiva' Pee Gee Hydrangea blossom reveals, as you can see by the beautiful Buckeye here, that the plant is highly appealing to butterflies..
Aromatic Aster (Aster oblogifolius) is one of the last wildflowers to bloom before frost. It gets its name not from the flowers, which are virtually scentless, but from the aroma of the crushed leaves and flower heads, which fragrance resembles that of balsam. The plant normally grows to 2 feet tall and as wide, but can grow larger depending on location. The flowers are pale lavender, abundant, and attractive to bees and butterflies.
The 'Samantha' Lantana (Lantana camara 'Samantha') is a unique Lantana with beautiful variegated foliage and brilliant yellow flowers all season long. Given full sun, it can grow to 2 feet tall and as wide. It also tolerates drought, and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. The foliage is also fragrant. This is a plant ideal for virtually everything--the garden border, edging, containers, hanging baskets, or the landscape. Grow it as an annual in the Ozarks, as it's of tropical origin.
Weigela Variegata (Weigela florida 'Variegata') produces an enormous profusion of gorgeous pink flowers on beautifully arching stems from late spring into autumn, and to make matters even more lovely, the leaves are green edged with creamy white. The result is a spectacular presence in the garden or landscape. This amazing shrub thrives in full sun or partial shade and can grow to 8 feet and 5 feet wide. As you can see, it does wonderfully well in the Ozarks.
|Red Hot Poker|
The vivid red-orange-yellow flowers of Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia alcazar) certainly suggest their namesake, or perhaps even a flaming torch. Red Kniphofia often are called Red Hot Poker, Poker Plant, or Torch Lily. There are more subtly colored species, as is the one below.
|A Subtler Torch Lily|
Among the more subtly colored species of Kniphofia is Kniphofia uvaria maxima, shown here. The Kniphofias, of South African origin, are perennial in most zones. They like full sun and can take drought but prefer plentiful water in summer. Some varieties reach 5 feet tall and all do beautifully in the Ozarks.
|Korean Spice Viburnum|
Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is a deciduous shrub with beautiful clusters of very fragrant white flowers in spring. In sun or partial shade it can grow 6 feet tall or taller with a nicely rounded shape. In fall the green foliage turns a lovely wine red and berries appear red first, then turn black. Said to among the most fragrant plants, its name refers to its rich, spicy scent. Common names include Koreanspice Viburnum and Korean Spicebush.
|White Crape Myrtle|
Just beginning to bloom on July 16 was this lovely White Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). We're not sure of the variety, but it closely resembles the one aptly named 'Coolly White'. Crape myrtles of all colors thrive and bloom profusely in the Ozarks. Some varieties grow to 7 feet tall, others tower to 20 feet. Easy to grow in most soils, they prefer full sun and moist, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter.
Gardeners looking for perennial geraniums will love Geranium 'Orion' for its brilliant blue flowers with darker violet veining and its longer period of bloom--from July into fall. Heat and humidity tolerant, it can grow to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide in full sun or part shade. If it gets a little leggy in late summer, cutting it back by about half will bring a new flush of bloom.
|'Snowflake Rose' Geranium|
The 'Snowflake Rose' Geranium (Pelargonium 'Snowflake Rose'), here just beginning to bloom, is one of several rose-scented geraniums available to the home gardener. An annual in the Ozarks, it grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide with beautiful cream-to-white-edged foliage and lavender flowers from June to September. The leaves when crushed have a lovely citrus-rose fragrance. In the garden it's attractive to birds, butterflies, and bees. Note: It also makes a lovely houseplant.
If you think these okra blossoms look like Hibiscus, you're right. Okra is Hibiscus esculentus in the Malvaceae, or Mallow family, which includes Cotton, Hollyhock, Hibiscus, and many other flowers. Native to Africa, Okra does quite well in our hotter Ozarks summers. For culinary use, pods should be picked when they reach 3-4 inches long. Bon ton roulez, mon ami--Let the good times roll !
|'Silky Yellow' Butterfly Weed|
'Silky Yellow' Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica 'Silky Yellow') is a marvelous member of the Milkweed family. It grows quickly and vigorously to 4-5 feet tall by 2-4 feet wide and from spring to fall bears bears clusters of bright yellow flowers. Terrifically attractive to butterflies, it's also a host plant for the Monarch and its caterpillars.
|'Silky Yellow' Butterfly Weed Up Close|
A closer look at the 'Silky Yellow' Butterfly Weed up close reveals the full beauty of its blossoms. Common names for this one include 'Silky Yellow' Milkweed and common names for all Butterfly Weeds include Blood Flower, Indian Root, and Swallow-wort. One caution: Be a little careful with these plants, as contact with one can cause allergic irritation in some humans and animals.
|Bush Red 'Fiesta' Pepper|
The Bush Red 'Fiesta' Pepper (Capsicum annuum 'Fiesta') works nicely in the garden as an ornamental, growing to 9 inches tall and as wide with dense green lance-like leaves and bright red fruit. The peppers are edible, too. Are they hot? We don't know. Want to try one?
|Silver Feather Grass|
Silver Feather Grass (Miscanthus sinsensis 'Silberfeder') is an elegant, slender ornamental grass named perfectly for the tall, silvery flowers it bears from August into November. Given medium moisture and well-drained soil, it does well in sun or partial shade, growing 4-6 feet tall and spreading to 4 feet.One of the loveliest ornamental grasses, it's a winner in the garden or the landscape.
|Japanese Silver Grass|
Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus') is a highly attractive variegated grass with a graceful, arching habit. In full sun to partial shade and with regular watering, it can grow as tall as 6 feet with a 5-foot spread. It bears showy white flowers in fall that make good cut flowers.
|'Little Kitten' Miscanthus|
'Little Kitten' is a new variety of Dwarf Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) ideal for small-space gardeners, as it grows to only 15 inches tall with beautiful plumes up to 30 inches high in summer and fall,. Thanks to it's size, it's also an excellent container plant.
|'Avalanche' Feather Reed Grass|
'Avalanche' Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Avalanche) is a hybrid of the popular 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass. It grows in a narrow clump to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide and its tightly vertical flower stalks and flowers gradually turn golden as shown here, providing great visual interest in fall and winter. Earlier the leaves are variegated green with white centers, making the plant an outstanding specimen plant all year-round.
|'Pink Crystals' Ruby Grass|
'Pink Crystals' Ruby Grass (Melinis nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals') is an ornamental grass that features sedge-like, erect blue-green leaves and exceptionally lovely, frothy pink flower heads from summer into fall. Native to Africa, the Ruby Grass species are unlikely to survive winters in the Ozarks.The plant likes full sun to partial shade and moderate water. It grows to 2 feet tall and 15 inches wide. Common names include Pink Bubble Grass and Bristle-Leaved Red Top.
The foregoing grasses and others in the garden can be even more dramatic in the very dead of winter, as illustrated by this imposing Miscanthus specimen photographed in mid-December.
Tatarian Aster (Aster tataricus) is a monster in the garden, albeit a beautiful monster. Indeed, it often draws double-takes for its height, which can reach 8 feet, and its elongated leaves, which can extend to 2 feet. In late fall it bears flower heads packed with beautiful yellow-centered lavender blossoms. The plant is named after Tatar, the area of Mongolia and Siberia to which it's native. The plant is extremely cold-hardy. It is not, however, drought-tolerant and must have moist soil. As you see, butterflies love it. Note: In ideal growing conditions, it can be quite invasive, controllable only by digging out spreading rhizomes.
|Tatarian Aster and Friends Up Close|
Just a few days before the year's first killing frost these marvelous Asters played host to scores of Monarchs stoking up on nectar for their long flight to Mexico for the winter. Note: In ideal growing conditions Tatarian Asters can be quite invasive, controllable only by digging out their spreading rhizomes.
Did you know you can grow cotton in your garden? Yep, you sure can, and we can't think of anything more fun, especially for the kids. 'Burgundy' Cotton (Gossyplum herbaceum 'Burgundy') sports richly purple leaves and plenty of boll-bursting snow-white cotton. It does beautifully in Ozarks gardens with at least six hours of direct sun, reaching 3-5 feet tall and as wide. Common names include Ornamental Cotton and Purple-Leaved Cotton. Note: Because it won't take temperatures below 40 degrees it must be grown as an annual in the Ozarks.
|'Burgundy' Cotton Up Close|
A closer view of the remarkable 'Burgundy' Cotton bolls. Common names for this variety include Ornamental Cotton and Purple-Leaved Cotton. Note: Because it won't take temperatures below 40 degrees it must be grown as an annual in the Ozarks.
|'Crimson Pygmy' Barberry|
'Crimson Pygmy' Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy') is a great answer for gardeners who need a good, small, slow-growing, hardy shrub to add year-'round color to the landscape. The plant does well in sun or partial shade. New growth is bright red and turns to a deep crimson-burgundy, and the plant bears small red berries in fall through winter. It grows to 2 feet tall with a 3-foot spread, and does well even in harsh exposures and poor soils.
This beautiful Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea italica) was in full color and providing a very cheery note in the garden on December 2nd. Fun fact: If gradually acclimatized, this remarkable plant can survive temperatures down to 5 degrees.
|Espaliered Apple Tree|
"Espalier is the art of training trees to branch in formal patterns...." reads the legend on this beautiful espaliered apple. Developed in Medieval Europe hundreds of years ago, the espalier technique shapes trees to take up less space and receive more light, resulting in better flowering, more colorful fruit, and higher fruit production. And guess what. The picking's easier, too.
Many gardeners call the beautiful 'Fireworks' Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa 'Fireworks') "the best garden annual ever." While that may sound extreme, we can't really disagree. This plant grows thickly 3-4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide and is covered with a spectacular profusion of hot-pink flowers with gold tips that make them seem gold-encrusted. Absurdly easy to grow, this tallest of Gomphrenas likes full sun, virtually any soil, and has low moisture needs. Bonus: The flowers make excellent cut flowers. Common names include Fireworks Globe Amaranth and Globe Amaranth.
|Mexican Bamboo--Be Careful of This One|
Mexican Bamboo (Polygonum cuspidatum) is a beautiful plant, to be sure, but watch out, it's not really a bamboo and it's not Mexican. Imported from Japanese islands in the 18th century, its main common name is Japanese Knotweed and it can grow very quickly to 9-10 feet tall and become an invasive pest very difficult to eradicate, as it grows in extremely tight clumps from tough, aggressive rhizomes. Some who grow it advise cutting it to the ground three times a year to control it. Us? We'll admire it in other people's gardens.
|Mexican Bamboo Up Close|
A close look at the base of Mexican Bamboo showing its extremely tight growth. Other common names for this intriguing plant include Japanese Bamboo,
Japanese Fleece-Flower, Wild Rhubarb, Huzhang, Sally Rhubarb, Donkey
Rhubarb, Hancock's Curse, Crimson Beauty, and Itadori, which is Japanese
for "strong plant."