It’s the middle of July, and a great time to reflect on the season while we hide in the shade in the middle of the day with an iced tea. We stretched ourselves with the amount of plants we grew this season, maybe a bit too much. Here are some of our favorites this year, chosen for beauty, ease of growth in the Asheville area, and long bloom time. In no particular order.
1. Aphrodite Sweetshrub
This native cultivar, or nativar (ugh) is in my top 5 favorite plants for sure. The big leaves have a tropical look and it’s still blooming now, in mid-July. It starts blooming later than the natives but has bigger blooms that just keep on coming. It gets big though. An excellent specimen.
2. Raspberry Wine Bee Balm
I planted a few of these last spring and they have run wild all over the place. I wasn’t sure I’d like how aggressive they are but they look surprisingly cool intertwined in with the shrubs like forsythia that look blah this time of year. I think I like this color better than the red Jacob Cline, which has a similar habit.
3. Eastern Snowball Bush
I fought liking this old classic, but its later bloom time in spring gave me a fantastic show of flowers this year on my windy ridge. It’s not much to look at during the rest of the year, but it’s putting out some red berries now, which redeems it a little. I’m diggin’ it now, you were right gram. The true Eastern Snowball Bush is a spring blooming viburnum, not a smooth hydrangea (that one blooms early/mid-summer.)
4. Sombrero Sangrita Coneflower
The Sombrero series has me hooked. They have a nice habit, lots of branching, and vibrant flowers. Love the Sangrita color in particular.
5. Soft Serve False Cypress
This is a beautiful conifer that is a much better choice as a specimen evergreen than most spruces in our heat and humidity. The size is about perfect to anchor a perennial bed or for the corner of the house. There is also a gold version that’s just as purdy.
6. Lemon Merangue Baptisia
I fell in love with baptisia this year but Lemon Merangue, with its silvery foliage and bright yellow flowers, was my favorite. I can’t wait for next spring to see it again.
7. Storm Cloud Amsonia
I’ve been luke warm to our native amsonia hubrichii. This one, amsonia tabernaemontana, doesn’t have the bright fall color of its cousin, but makes up for it with almost black new growth followed by sparkling blue flowers in spring. Fantastic. It’s native too.
8. Fire Light Hydrangea
Fire Light is probably my favorite sun hydrangea right now. It has a nice dense creamy white flowers popping up now (mid July) that start turning pink/red fairly quickly. It gets big though, about 8’.
9. Berry Timeless Coral Bells
This heuchera has flowers that are just as good as the foliage. They bloom all summer long and even make good cut flowers. It’s a native villosa hybrid and holds up to our southern heat and humidity. A very low maintenance beauty for the shade garden.
10. Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass
Grasses don’t sell very well for us, but the more I grow the more I appreciate them. Karl Forester is an oldie but goodie, and still very popular for a reason. It stays narrow and very upright, looking stately and graceful in the wind, especially in late spring. It doesn’t self seed, and does just fine in heavy clay.
11. Sky Pencil Holly
Another oldie but goodie, this narrow holly looks stately framing entranceways and even does great in pots. Give it full sun and good airflow for best performance. Sky Pencil is Sarah’s favorite.