Here is a list of our favorite landscape plants, although we’re sure we will forget some, as we love so many. Also, different plants are appropriate for different sites, further making this a hard list to compile. We are also easily distracted by a flower, a fragrance, a foliage, a breeze moving a grass plume. Our favorites list is dynamic, ever-moving and changing.
*Japanese Maples- Acer palmatum – There are so many varieties available. Most have striking new foliage and all have excellent fall color followed by an interesting winter “skeleton”, some varieties with colored twigs. Pt. shade to sun. Somehow I have managed to get 30 or so in my 1/3 acre garden, counting those in decorative pots….
Serviceberry – Amelanchier – great white flowers in spring, sweet berries in summer that you will have to fight the birds for, excellent fall color. Native. 20×15′.
*Fringetree – Chionanthus – Great small tree! Fleecy, long white flowers hang from branches in May. Female will get blue fruits which resemble little grapes, bird attractor. Native. 15×15′. LOVE THIS!
*Chinese Dogwood – Cornus kousa – Unfortunately, our native Dogwood ( C. florida) is susceptible to many disease and insect problems. The Chinese Dogwood will take sun, is available with variegated leaves, and also now available with pink flowers. Ult. size depends on variety. The full size ones get 25×25′. Late spring-early summer flowers a huge plus for extending the flowering tree parade each spring. Berries hang like cherries.
‘Edith Bogue’ Magnolia – Magnolia grandiflora – Huge evergreen leaves, white fragrant flowers up to 10″ across in June-July. Bright orange-red seeds. 30×15′. The only kinda downfall with this is you have to be careful where it is sited- no windy sites.
Crabapple – Malus – This tree has gotten somewhat of a bad rap, some (inferior varieties) are susceptible to disease. However, there are varieties which are excellent- ‘Prariefire’ – Bright reddish-pink flowers, dark red fruit 3/8″, purple new foliage. 20×20′. ‘Goldenraindrops’ – White flowers, yellow fruit 1/4″, divided foliage. 18×13′. ‘Tina’ -dark pink to red flower buds open to white flowers. Red fruit 1/4″. 8×5′
*Stewartia – Excellent- White flowers look like camellias in June. The flaking, cinnamon-and-cream bark is gorgeous. Maroon-red fall color. 30×15′. Needs a very nice soil to do well.
*Japanese Snowbell – Styrax – Branching is very horizontal. In June, little white or pink bells in profusion along the underside of the branches, fluttering with the slightest breeze. Tree huggers- visit our amazing specimen behind our greenhouse……
*Dwarf Lilac Tree – Syringa m. ‘Palabin’ – pale lavender-blue, fragrant, profuse blooms in June. Grafted at 3 or 4′, top will get 5×7′. S. p. ‘Miss Kim’ – Foliage a little larger than previous variety, pale lilac, fragrant flowers in June. Burgundy fall color. Grafted at 3 or 4′, top will get 6×6′. Full sun for best flowering.
This is going to be very difficult to narrow down a list. Again, depending on the site ( and maybe the mood) this list could be different.
Abelia– summer flowering, white to pale pink tubular flowers, semi-evergreen foliage takes on a nice burgundy fall color. Sun to 1/2 shade. ‘Rose Creek’ – 3×3-4′. Fragrant! Hummingbird and bee attracting. LOVE THIS!
Japanese Maple – Acer – yes, I just listed it as a tree, but there are smaller shrub-type varieties which are awesome landscape plants. Favorites: ‘Shindeshojo’ – flaming scarlet spring foliage color really lights up the garden. Red-orange fall color. 6×6′. ‘Tsumi beni’ – Red Nail Jap. Maple – Light green spring leaves with red-purple tips. Red fall color. Excellent texture. 6×6′. ‘Shaina’ – Just got this type for the first time last year. Impressive deep red color holds all summer long. Grafted at various heights, top will get 3×3′. Go ahead- check out our amazing Acer palmatum collection thru the Tree and Shrub link on this website.
Many, many others….
Chokeberry – Aronia – Native. Covered with white flowers in spring, good berry display begins early autumn, excellent fall color. Sun or shade, will do wet soils. 6×6+’
Butterfly Bushes- Buddleia – As the name implies, this is a butterfly magnet. On a sunny day, there can be hundreds of butterflies feeding on the nectar. Also attracts hummingbirds, also attracts bees. Excellent cut flower, fragrant to various degrees depending on the variety. Full sun, dryish soil, cut down to 2′ each spring for best flowering. Most varieties are going to do 8×8′, no matter what you read!! The newer so-called English Butterfly Bush, ‘Purple Emperor’, ‘Adonis Blue’, ‘Peacock’ do about 5×5′. Lots easier to tuck in to a smaller garden. Summer flowering.
Cypress – Chamaecyparis – a whole family of excellent textured and colored evergreen shrubs. Various ultimate sizes, depending on variety.
Summersweet – Clethra – Native. Fragrant white or pink flowers in early summer. ‘Hummingbird’ 3×4′, ‘Ruby Spice’ 6×5′. Sun or shade.
Daphne– this year I scored a bunch of varieties. They can be finicky, yes. But if you smell one just once, they are worth every effort and every replanting to keep the experience alive. See our tree and shrub list.
Fothergilla – White, rounded, bottlebrush-type flowers in spring. Excellent yellow,orange and red fall color. Native. F. gardenii – 3×3′. ‘Mt. Airy’ – 6×6′. New kid is ‘Blue Shadow’ with powder blue leaves. Sun to pt. shade.
Hydrangea– I could write 2 pages just on these! I tend to lean towards the flat, lace-cap types rather than the big “mophead” types. My favorites are ‘Bluebird’- blue and white lacecap, 5×5′. ‘Preozia’ – 5″ rose-red mophead flowers, red fall color, 3×3′. Also, the Oakleaf types ( native) have bold leaves, large white cone-shaped flowers and reddish-purple to bronze fall color. ‘Sike’s Dwarf’ – 5×5′. ‘Snow Queen’ 6×6′. ‘Alice’ 8×8′. Acid= blue flowers, Lime=pink flowers. White flowers stay white no matter what pH. Pruning at the right time is a big deal…check to find out when.
Holly – Ilex– A familiar plant. Please note that most of the “blue” hollies grow to 8×8’+ and will have to be squared or meatballed if used in a foundation planting. Female varieties need a male for berry production. Use 1 male for every few females. Also a golden-berried variety is available (‘Golden Girl’) which is pretty interesting. Maybe not so familiar are the Japanese Hollies ( I. crenata), which have shiny, evergreen, rounded leaves. ‘Helleri’ is very popular, but I like ‘Hoogendorne’ and ‘Soft Touch’ better than the old standby, 3×4′. ‘Steed’s’ 8×4′, the newly available ‘Sky Pencil’ is a skinny upright, 8×2′. Sun or shade. Any berries will be black and probably not noticed on these types. Winterberry (I. verticillata) is a deciduous holly. The cool thing is that since it drops its leaves, you are left with a stunning display of red berries. However, it still needs the male for pollination. ‘Red Sprite’ is the dwarf variety, 5×4′. Others get 6-12′ tall and wide, depending on variety. Any soil but very dry, will do clay and wet soils.
Sweetspire – Itea – Very neat long bottlebrush-type flowers arch from the shrub June-July. Fall colors range from deep burgundy to bright red, and stay on deep into the winter. Native. Sun or shade. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ 4×6′, ‘Little Henry’ – 2×3′.
Crape Myrtle – Not all Crape Myrtles are created hardy! HG carries the varieties from the National Arboretum- tested to zone 6 hardy. The bloom period claim is 100 days,white, rose, lavender or pale pink flowers, 8-10′ tall, pumpkin-orange fall color. Sun only. They leaf out very late in spring. Fantastic for the late summer color.
Siberian Carpet- Microbiota – Light olive-green foliage, ground cover evergreen for shade. Nice texture. 1×6′.
Heavenly Bamboo – Nandina – Not the aggressive spreading bamboo that springs to mind, but an excellent multi-season, adaptable shrub. Blue-green foliage with heavy red tones all summer. White flower sprays in summer followed by clusters of very showy red berries. Evergreen, actually ever-red since the shrubs turn bright red in fall and hold the color all winter. Not good in windy sites, consider Wilt-pruf reguardless of site. ‘Compacta’, usually great berry displays, 4×4′, ‘Firepower’ 2×2′, neon-red fall color, ‘Harbour Dwarf’ 3×3′, Reddish-purple fall color. Sun or shade, will do clay.
Cherry Laurel- Prunus – Great dark evergreen shrub for shade. White fragrant flowers in April. ‘Otto Luyken’ – 4×6-8′. Will do deep shade. needs moist soil.
Azalea and Rhododendron – you know ’em, you may love or hate them. Very popular.The thing is, they like moist, well-drained soil. Without soil prep or in clay or poorly drained soils, they are either going to die slow or die quick. It doesn’t take too much to soil prep, and the results are worth the extra time. Any color, all sizes. Evergreen. Favorites: Any of the ‘Girard’s’ -azaleas 3×3 with brilliant colored flowers.’Girard’s Fuchsia’ is a great reddish purple. Any Robin Hill type – these are azaleas which flower later, after everybody elses are done, extending the season. They usually have larger flowers as well, up to 4 ” across. Ass’t sizes, usually wider than tall. Rhododendron- Particularly like the Yaku types- these are very compact types, flower bud color is very rich, rose-red, opening to lighter flowers, nice two-toned effect. Yaku types seem to take more sun as well.
Sweet Box – Sarcococca – Awesome little shade shrub. Dark, evergreen foliage. White flowers early in March are hidden by the leaves, but perfume the air with a delicate vanilla scent. Stoloniferous ( spreads by underground runners), spreading slowly to form a thick ground cover. Loose, moist soil for best growth.
Spirea – Quite common, but good for summer color. The newer varieties have yellow or golden foliage with red new growth and pink flowers. Don’t know how I feel about the yellow-pink combo, but the foliage effect is good. Cut 1/2 way back after initial flowering for good fall rebloom. ‘Magic Carpet’ would be my favorite of this group. Most of the summer flowering types do an average 3×3′. ‘Snowmound’ – This one was positively covered with white flowers before it leafed out. Only blooms in the spring, but the shrub was still very attractive after blooming. 4×4’. I am totally in love with ‘Ogon’, aka ‘Mellow Yellow’- very early white flowers before the soft yellow foliage leafs out. Lovely lightly arching habit. Foilage turns pumpkin colored in autumn.
Taxus – There are upright growing Yews which are available, averaging 8×2′. They are great for an upright accent, will do full sun to full shade, will not do wet soils. Good dark evergreen foliage, female plants get red berries.
Blueberry – Vaccinium – Yes, blueberries. Even though they are more often thought of as a fruit shrub, they have excellent landscape interest. White bell-shaped flowers in spring, of course blueberries in summer you can fight the birds for, and fabulous autumn color. After leaf drop, colored twigs can brighten an otherwise drab landscape. Depending on variety, red or yellow twigs. Average 6×6′, however, several nice dwarf types are available, 3×3′ Sun to 1/2 shade, moist, ACID, well-drained soil.
Viburnum – everyone needs at least one. Versatile, multi-season, multi-application. If you want the berries on those that boast berries, you need to plant a second one, same species, different variety to get pollination.
Fragrant types- flowering in May, seldom berry, ‘Carlesii’ 6×6′, ‘Judd’ 6×6′
‘Winterthur’ Viburnum – This is a shrub you could see in leaf ( shiny green) and think Oh! that’s nice, and then find out it flowers white in June; berries start white, change to pink-red, then end up blue; Deep burgundy-red fall color. Even when it hasn’t shown you all it does, it is still attractive. Excellent. 5×5′. Sun to 1/2 shade. Pollinate with ‘Brandywine’.
Doublefile types – ‘Maresii’, ‘Shasta’, everblooming ‘Summer Snowflake’ – Pristine white flowers line the very horizontally growing branches in May. Bright red fruit.Deep red fall color. This gets kinda big, but if you have the space, you NEED one! 8×8-12′.
‘Wine & Roses’- absolutely fabulous dark maroon leaves turn almost black as the summer heat comes on. Pink flowers on and off all summer. 6×6’.
Hmmm. Where do I start? How to finish? We are carrying more than 1,500 different types, each can be excellent in a given spot. All-season winners:
Coreopsis-threadleaf types- quite popular, with good reason, flowers start late June, yellows or pinks, bloom thru frost. Can really get moving in good garden soil. If that is the case, dig out chunks and transplant or give away. 15-24″ tall, depending on variety.
Coneflower – Echinacea – All summer long blooming pink daisy. Drought tolerant. Also available in white and now oranges and all kinds of sunset colors. Plus green!! 3 to 5′ tall, depending on soil, dwarf type 18″.
Wandflower – Gaura – Thin willowy stems with white or pink flowers that look like little butterflies, all summer long. ‘Whirling Butterflies’ 24″ tall, ‘Siskyou Pink’, rich-rose flowers, habit in my garden is more floppy than the afore-mentioned variety.
Geranium – Perennial Geraniums bloom a long time, color range pinks thru blues. Good foliage texture. Lots to choose from in our offerings.
Daylilies – Hemerocallis – all colors, reds and purples usually better in part shade, various heights, long bloomers, “Trophy takers” really put on a show.
Lavender – Evergreen (ever-gray) foliage, purple, lavender or white spikes in summer. Great edger, although attracts bees in quantities. Hot, sunny, dry.
Phlox paniculata – Summer Phlox – Large, fragrant flowers mid-late summer, various colors available. Make Sure they refer to mildew or disease resistance. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. ‘Robert Poore’ Is my fav- dark pink flowers, 4′ tall, flowers late.
Black-eyed Susan- Rudbeckia – Yeah, they are everywhere, but that tells you how easy they are to grow…
Red Hot Poker – Kniphofia – Spikes up to 4′ tall carry unusual, desert looking flowers which attract hummingbirds. Usually available in bright yellows, red, and orange. Newer varieties have more subtle color.
Japanese Anemone- 4-6′ tall, late season bloomer, whites, pinks. Excellent foliage.
Snakeroot – Cimicifuga– Doesn’t look like much when you first get it, but after 2 or 3 years of establishment, it will “Wow” you! Excellent foliage ( premium varieties have dark purple foliage) , tall thin stems rise up to 6′, beginning in July, finally opening up to long, fragrant, bottlebrush flowers. Flower wands sway in the wind. A must-have plant.
Hellebore – all over the garden magazines. Bold, dark green foliage, evergreen. Flowers very early -late Feb-May. Subtle, charming. Won’t do wet areas. Poisonous.
Hosta– Not the old, boring type, but the new varieties are gorgeous. Choose big-leaved types for bold texture, yellow and gold types will do more sun. Miniatures perfect for edging.
Meadow Rue – Thalictrum – Airy foliage, thin stems carry delicate looking yellow or lavender flowers on 3 to 5′ stalks in summer. The dwarf types are also fantastic- airy clusters of flowers over 6″ plants, all summer long. Perfect for edging.
Ferns- Another large catagory at HG. Find evergreen varieties, dwarf rock garden types, tall, upright types. Some do wet soils, others prefer dry. Excellent texture and adds a feeling of “nature” to the garden….
Maidenhair Grass – Miscanthus – Too many varieties are available- downright mind-boggling. My favorites: ‘Morning Light’ – Very fine-foliaged, arching habit. Thin white edges on each blade. 5′. ‘Purpurescens’ – Foliage turns deep purple in the fall when the temps start to drop. 4′. ‘Strictus’ – (Porcupine) Very upright, yellow stripes on foliage.8′ *Note- ‘Zebra’ is inferior to ‘Strictus’, with a floppy habit.
Feather Reed Grass – Calamagrostis – Very upright growth habit, 3-5′ tall, depending on variety. Flower plumes also very vertical, begin in June, last good til Sept. Love them all, esp Calamagrostis brachystricha.
Switch Grass – Panicum – Fine-textured, usually foliage has a blue-green color. Seedheads begin in July and are sprays of airy cloud-like plumes. Most turn red in the fall. 3-6′ tall.
Pennisetum– Early summer plumes make this a nice garden addition.
Sporobolus heterolepis– Prairie Dropseed- Light airy panicles. Green foliage turns pumpkin-colored in autumn. I really like the look of this. Native.
If you want the full list of my favorites, really just link to our plant lists within this website. We love them all really. We gravitate towards certain ones, but keep circling all of them, like a good garden geek should.