Threadleaf or Letterman’s ironweed is native to the Ozark region of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Ironweeds are larval host plants for American lady butterflies. Nectar-collecting butterflies include skippers, monarchs and swallowtails.
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Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) is a native perennial that grows in moist locations along streams, springs, swamps, ditches and in low wooded areas. Lobelia ‘Monet Moment’ is a newer cultivar that boasts large heads of rich pink-violet flowers on plants that are generally 24 to 36 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide.
White wood aster is a native perennial found in the eastern U.S. and typically grows in the wild in dry open woods, clearings, roadsides and woodland edges. It forms loose clumps with dark, sprawling, sometimes zigzag stems up to 2.5′ tall. The plants provide nectar for pollinators and seeds for songbirds.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that produces edible shoots or spears that may be harvested in May and June. ‘Purple Passion’ is a cultivar that produces attractive purple spears that have a mild, nutty flavor. The spears provide excellent purple color if added raw to salads, but turn green when cooked.
Agastache is a group of aromatic perennials that grow in dry, often hilly habitats in China, Japan, U.S. and Mexico. Insects are highly attracted to the flowers. Bolero is a garden hybrid developed from a species native to the southwestern United States. This selection features loose spikes of vivid, rose-purple flowers over a compact mound of fragrant bronze-green foliage that is deer and slug resistant.
‘Purple Showers’ viola is touted for its large, dark purple flowers that appear from spring through fall atop compact foliage. Lightly fragrant, deep purple-violet flowers appear in spring and then sporadically throughout the season, providing a soft show of color. The flowers fade to lavender. Although flowering in one trial garden (full sun and well-drained soil) was prolific, the May flowering was sporadic in the other gardens.
Veronica ‘Purpleicious’ is an erect, bushy, clump-forming spike speedwell that is noted for its long period of bloom. Flowers were given high marks for repeat bloom. Evaluators characterized its flower color as a purple-pink, jewel-toned violet and rich pink-violet. Peak bloom took place in June-July, but some flowers were still present in September.
Eveline speedwell blooms mid to late summer with some re-bloom in September. The flowers are pink-purple on a tapering four-inch spike. Repeat bloom is more consistent when spent flowers are deadheaded. Dark green, disease-resistant foliage stays shiny and clean late into the season. There is no significant fall color.
October Skies is a selection of a native to the northeast and has masses of small [about one inch] soft lavender-blue daisy-like flowers with yellow centers that bloom late August into October. The foliage is narrow creating a fine texture. The gray-green color is pleasing all summer and no powdery mildew was reported. Evaluators rated the foliage as good and praised it for its lack of disease issues. It is also aromatic when touched. In all but one site, this aster was not browsed by deer or rabbits.
Silene caroliniana can be found in rocky, calcareous woods and outcrops from New Hampshire to Ohio and south to Missouri and Alabama. It is not found in Illinois. Pink round flowers with wedge-shaped petals less than an inch wide appear from late May through early June (about a two-week bloom period). A cultivar of a native, ‘Short and Sweet’ has flowers that attract nectar-seeking insects and butterflies. The sticky flowering stems give this plant the common name “catchfly.”
Dozens of burgundy-red, knob-shaped flower heads on wand-like stems, to 30 inches tall; blooms in late July through September. The foliage is pinnately compound. Each medium green leaflet is 2 inches long, lightly textured and toothed. However, when the Japanese beetles start eating holes in the leaves, they become brown and unsightly.
This prairie native has light lavender petunia-like flowers that are 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wild petunia blooms sporadically from June through October; flowers usually fall off cleanly so deadheading is unnecessary. Wild petunia’s fuzzy green foliage remains ornamental throughout the entire season.
Plum Perfect’s flowers area a lavender- plum purple with a darker red purple eye zone blooming Late May into June. The flowers have a slight vanilla fragrance and attract butterflies. The foliage on this Woodland Phlox is a fine textured medium to dark green. Burgundy tones come up in cooler spring or fall weather.
Burgundy/ maroon pin cushion-like blooms averaging 1″ across. Flowers heavily end of May through June then sporadically until frost. Deadheading promotes repeat blooms and tidies up overall appearance. Very attractive when in bloom. Foliage presents with neat clean, silvery green basal mounds round out as the season progresses. Evaluators agreed this plant can look a little ratty at times due to its loose habit. No disease or pest problems.
Iris x robusta is a designation for a hybrid of two native American irises, Iris versicolor and Iris virginica. ‘Gerald Darby’ is noted for its violet-blue flowers and dusky purple spring foliage. This plant is touted for its use in sunny sites near ponds, water gardens and moist borders. Purple flowers with yellow-splashed sepals (falls) appeared on purplish-black stems. Flowering began in early June and persisted for about two weeks. One evaluator recommended removing the spent flowers in midsummer.
Obsidian coral bell blooms sporadically in early summer with tiny white baby’s breath-like flowers on slender stems about 12 inches above the showy foliage. Glossy, purple-maroon, scallop-edged foliage holds its color all season. Solely as a foliage plant this coral bell stands out boldly in any setting.
The white flowers are very small on slender 18-inch stems that rise above the mounded foliage. Most evaluators did not consider the flowers as significant. Two commented that their plants did not flower at all. Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ has bright chartreuse leaves that are rounded with wavy edges and each leaf is about 2 inches in diameter. The bright color and the ruffled texture stand out in the shadier garden. Two out of six evaluators had some black spot on the leaves.
Rozanne features lavender blue flowers with white centers and dark veins; the round, flat flowers are 1¾ inches in diameter. Rozanne blooms from June through September (and even beyond). Deeply cut, medium green leaves are typical of hardy geraniums. Foliage did not attract much comment either positive or negative, however, foliage provides a nice backdrop for flowers and does not show any tendencies toward insect or fungal problems. Unlike many members of this genus, there was very little fall color reported.
The pink 5-petalled flowers have red veins and white throats. Some evaluators reported that plants produced prolific bloom in June and then bloomed sporadically throughout the summer. Other evaluators had flowers throughout the growing season and into late October. Foliage is deeply lobed and bronze-green. The fine-textured foliage remains clean all season. Burgundy fall color through October and November.
The flowers bloom from April to the beginning of June. Clusters of lime green flowers with a disk-like bract [looks like a green collar] are borne on stems 12 to 18 inches tall. Resembling Japanese Pachysandra, the whorls of glossy dark green leaves, to 2-inches long, were mostly evergreen except for the first year after planting.
Bright yellow spider-like flowers tipped with an orange- red cap bloom April –May. The ¼ to ½ inch flowers seem to float in space on thin, arching stems. The flowers were self cleaning and did not require deadheading. May not bloom each year based on early conditions. Spring foliage is green mottled red and a slightly serrated edge. In summer the full heart-shaped leaves turn all green; sometimes with a yellow tinge moving into fall. Foliage remained attractive after bloom cycle and persisted throughout the fall and early winter.
This plant is related to Fuchsia as is evident in the trumpet shape of the flower and the attraction of hummingbirds to the plant. Orange Carpet is covered with a mass of small orange flowers for three plus weeks in July and sporadically through September. Most evaluators reported decreased flowering in each year of the three-year cycle with more foliage than flower by the third year.
‘Art’s Pride’ features beautiful orange coneflowers, 3-4 inches across, that fade to pale pink over time. Few flowers on each plant, yet they have a sweet subtle fragrance, and make great cut flowers. It blooms from late June through early August, with intermittent flowers into early fall. While the grass-green, lanceolate leaves of ‘Art’s Pride’ are not a significant ornamental feature, they are healthy all summer. The basal leaves are not densely produced.
The 2-inch florets of cream-yellow with light orange blush appear on 24-30-inch racemes in early June and continue mid to late June. Sporadic re-bloom in late July through mid-August occurs with or without cutting back spent flowers. Dark green, medium textured foliage is glossier than the species and grows from a basal clump. No fall color but foliage remains somewhat evergreen in winter.
The soft blue flowers begin blooming in late July and are ¼ inch or less in small clusters on the tip and sides of the stems. Though pretty, they can get lost in the bright, variegated foliage. This bluebeard has fine-textured, variegated foliage. The 2-inch leaves are toothed, sage green, with an irregular white margin. The foliage is clean throughout the season and the variegation has a strong effect in the garden until frost. When crushed or bruised, foliage has a mint-like fragrance.
Calamintha has masses of dainty white flowers that change to soft blue as they age. The tiny blooms dance airily just above the foliage continuously from June through October! Calamintha is a fine-textured plant with rich, shiny green foliage. A member of the mint family, the leaves have a peppermint fragrance when crushed.
Flowers bloom in early spring as foliage is just emerging. By June foliage has matured and is the best feature of the plant. Leaves can be 6-8 inches in diameter and are reminiscent of African Violets. Dark green, hairy foliage remains lovely all summer and gives great texture to the garden border. In the fall the foliage declines and remains green.
Slow to establish flowers are often hidden in foliage or may not flower in year one. Once set, dark chocolate/ purple flowers highlighted by lemon yellow tips on tall stems up to 32″ above the foliage create a striking floral effect. Flowers fade to violet-purple. Blooms approx. three weeks from late May into June. Good cutting flower attracts many types of butterflies.
This Astilbe has airy plumes of fragrant, pale pink. The flowers are supposed to bloom June through August; however, one evaluator noted its bloom time as being only in August and some evaluators noted it did not flower at all. It was observed that Color Flash® was not as floriferous as Astilbe ‘Hennie Graafland’.