You can rely on these landscape plants
By Cindy Hoedel
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Before you drive to the garden center to load up on new landscaping plants, take a drive around town.
The key to great-looking, no-fuss gardens is to stick with proven success stories. There's a reason Midwest gardens are full of peonies, bridal wreath spirea, day lilies, iris and zinnias. They work. They can take the blast-furnace heat and drought conditions of high summer and the frigid, drying winds of winter.
For wise weekend gardeners, common is good and rare is bad. (For passionate expert gardeners, the opposite is true. They want unusual plants no one else has, and they are willing to nurture them. That's just not in the cards for me at this point in my life. My husband, kids, dogs and job use up all the nurturing I've got.)
Recently I decided to plant clematis in a brass tub with a 5-foot iron obelisk on top. Last year I grew morning glories in the tub, and eventually they covered the obelisk, but I figured clematis would cover it faster. And since clematis is perennial, I wouldn't have to replant the tub each year - if I picked the right one.
Clematis scare the daylights out of beginning gardeners, with good reason. Ask around, and probably every gardener you know has had at least one clematis die on them. But success with clematis doesn't require elaborate bed preparation and maintenance rituals. It just takes restraint.
You have to be able to resist exotic varieties, the ones whose pictures look so beautiful on the tags, and instead choose the same purple variety everyone grows: Jackmanii. Jackmanii is like the shy guy in high school who was no good at whispering sweet nothings in your ear, but who also never stood you up or flirted with your sister.
Here are some other reliable picks for our area, courtesy of Midwest Top 10 Garden Guide (Sunset, $20):
Clematis: Jackmanii, Nelly Moser (the pink-and-white striped one that you see most in this area, next to purple Jackmanii ) and Niobe (rich crimson blooms)
Other vines: Sweet autumn clematis (a rambling, woody vine more like honeysuckle, with clouds of tiny white flowers in September); Hall's honeysuckle (fragrant and rambling); heavenly blue and Grandpa Ott's morning glories
Shrubs: Bridal wreath spirea; Ludwig Spaeth lilac (old-fashioned huge bush with reddish-purple blooms), Miss Kim lilac (5-foot-tall compact bush with pale purple blooms); fragrant snowball viburnum and Korean spice viburnum (both with fragrant white blossoms)
Perennials: Day lilies (especially Stella d'Oro); peonies; hostas
Annuals for sun: Zinnias; verbena; poppies and petunias
Annuals for shade: Impatiens and coleus
This list isn't comprehensive, but it has all you need for nice looking flower beds. If you have other no-fail favorites to share, send me an e-mail and I'll include them in a future column. Because the shy, reliable types deserve more attention.
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Cindy Hoedel is a columnist for The Kansas City Star.. Send a note by clicking here.
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