Rick Vuyst’s favorite “3 to 4 season” plants
With our busy lifestyles I believe your landscape should work as hard as you do. I also believe that mono-cultures are not a good idea in the landscape and that as in life, diversity is better. Each plant has its season in the sun when it takes center stage. Within a diverse group problems do not spread like wildfire and the diversity presents continual visual interest as each plant plays its role. All these things said there are some plants that step up and deliver a long season, in some cases, multiple seasons of interest in the landscape. A good landscape uses approximately 30% of its foundation in evergreens providing the gravitas and back drop of interest. In some cases the evergreens can serve as a focal point for 4 seasons of interest such as a Weeping Spruce or a conifer that looks like an evergreen but is deciduous with fall color like a Weeping Larch. Broadleaf evergreens can serve this role too with Rhododendrons and Holly as examples providing year long interest. Aside from the understood importance and foundation provided by conifers and broadleaf evergreens, other plants can provide workhorse interest in the landscape, many with a key blooming season as well as great fall color or colorful season long foliage and stems. Also remember well placed splashes or pockets of Annuals, Herbs and Bulbs add to the show to make your landscape a headliner. Here is my list (53 suggestions) for some landscape hardy favorites that come back and perform year after year as I call it the “gift that keeps giving”. Hardy to our hardiness zones in Michigan these plants are listed as “Woody” landscape plants (W) or Herbaceous “Perennial plants” noted with a (P).
Achillea Yarrow P
Allium/Mountain Garlic P
Azalea Deciduous Northern Lights W
Chamaecyparis Gold Mop Cypress W
Coneflower Echinacea P
Dogwood Red or Gold Twig W
Hydrangea Oakleaf W
Hydrangea Panicle (Quickfire, Limelight, etc) W
Hydrangea serrata Tuff Stuff W
Hypericum St Johns Wort W
Japanese Maple W
Lambs Ear Stachys P
Nishiki Willow W
Ornamental Grasses P
Own root Landscape Roses W
Paperbark Maple W
Perovskia Russian Sage P
Physocarpus Ninebark W
Rosa Rugosa W
Sambucus Elderberry W
Succulents (such as Sedums) P
Sweet Autumn Clematis W
Sweet Woodruff P
Syringa Landscape Lilacs/rebloomers W
Tri Color Beech W
Weigela Wine and Roses or My Monet W
Yucca Golden Sword P
“Peas” on Earth
I have a holiday and Christmas wish for Michigan this year. An El Nino’ winter because my opinion is we deserve it after the last two winters we’ve all endured. I remember past El Nino’ November months in West Michigan. Wearing short sleeve shirts as we put the garden to bed for winter and stringing lots of Christmas lights outdoors to celebrate the holidays ahead. We would unload Christmas trees, in by November standards, warm temperatures. These were the years that due to a lack of ice and snow people would be inclined to string a lot of Christmas lights on the home and in the landscape. The final leaves of fall are raked in November and tilled into the garden. Anticipation of the upcoming holidays builds as we begin to decorate indoors and out. I am not a meteorologist, but when scientists predict an El Nino’ winter due to warm Pacific Ocean water temperatures it gets my attention.
Warmer November temperatures allow us to “hoe hoe hoe” extending the gardening season in West Michigan and get the ladders and extension cords out to string some “electric ivy”. I call it “peas” on earth and good “till’ towards men and women to enjoy the great outdoors in November.
November is a great month to take cuttings from the natural landscape to add to fresh greens for Porch Pots. These entry door containers are an inviting welcome to holiday visitors. Pruned Rose Hips from the rose bushes, lengths of Russian Sage, Red Twig Dogwood branches or Birch Branches as examples are great compliments to fresh evergreen boughs in containers for entryways. Now that the flowers are frozen but the soil is still workable, arrange the branches in these containers and they will look great through the holidays into February.
Forcing bulbs for indoor color is another way to brighten the home. Paperwhite narcissus and Amaryllis are easy to grow bulbs to flower indoors otherwise known as “forcing”. You can also still purchase Tulips and Daffodils or Hyacinths to plant outdoors or “force” indoors into bloom.
Finally don’t forget that indoor foliage plants are our friends as we spend more time indoors in the winter months. They can improve indoor air quality and keep us connected to nature as the winter months arrive. Try to give your foliage plants a brightly lit window and rotate them from time to time. Remember not to kill them with kindness as the shorter days and less light of winter causes them to require far less water than the summer months.
Accessible clean water is vital for both us and our plants. We often take it for granted where we live. In other parts of the world however that is not the case. Finding usable water becomes a matter of life or death and is a daily struggle.
Like all living things, plants can get by without food for much longer than they can without water. In fact, 80 to 95 percent of a plant is made up of water, which it uses to replace water lost to evaporation and to assist with photosynthesis. Water affects a plants growth, its resistance to insects and disease and its overall vigor. Proper watering is essential if you want your plants to thrive. Because the plant transpires around 97 percent of the water it absorbs, its main task is to maintain the internal water flow or pressure so that the plant may remain stable and sufficiently supplied.
Water is life and here in West Michigan we are fresh water rich. Some children in our world suffer due to lack of clean water and we can make a difference. We are reminded again with the humanitarian crisis in Syria that thousands of children suffer and die every week. It seems to me governments can unite to solve a banking crisis but in times of humanitarian need it is people who unite with outstanding humanitarian agencies like World Vision to make a difference.
Once again I’m running with Team World Vision to raise awareness and to help provide clean water for those in need. The needs are real, but we believe that we can end the clean water crisis in our lifetime.
$50 = clean water for 1 person for life.
Will you invest in the future and provide clean water for 1, 2, 3, or even more people? We can help change lives, together.
Here is the link below to make a donation that will change lives. Please click on it…….
You work “Yard” for the money. Thinking of how to stretch your dollar in the garden? To have green thumbs not by the amount of currency handled but rather results in your landscape? Look no further than the months of September and October for help.
You can use your Dis-“clover” card or your “Grass”-ter card or even maybe your Hosta la Visa card with confidence in the fall for a number of reasons. Discounts on plant material are usually readily available. The weather is cooler and rain generally plentiful making it good weather for both you and the new fledgling sprouts.
Weed control is more effective in fall. Plants root readily in warm soil in fall as the plants put more energy into establishment instead of top growth like they do in the spring. The reasons are numerous why fall is for planting. Bulbs can be planted, lawns established and repaired, landscapes planted or rejuvenated and even annuals like Pansies or Ornamental Kale can be planted.
Plants established in fall have a jump start on their counterparts planted in spring and you look like a neighborhood genius.
Start to prepare your tropical deck foliage plants for cabin fever and the move inside. Soon tropical breezes will turn into whatever winter pleases. Your tropicals or houseplants should be inside and behind glass by then. I’m referring to plants like Hibiscus, Mandevilla, Crotons, Boston Ferns, Palms, Ficus and the like. It’s a good idea to bathe the plants before bringing them inside. Maybe some fresh sterilized potting soil is in order or systemic insect granules to keep the bugs at bay. Make sure soil is not saturated so we don’t create a fungus gnat issue in the home. Without the long warm days of sunshine and breezes the plant will need much less water in the months ahead.
Fall is the time to invest in bulb planting. With a good well drained soil and proper depth it is as easy as dig drop done. And oh “deer” if Bambi is a problem in your neighborhood not to worry. Bulbs like Dutch Iris, Alliums, Daffodils, Fritillaria will do just fine.
If you want to plant Tulips or Crocus you will need to have the repellant handy next spring. I successfully had a great batch of yellow tulips this spring and protected them with Milorganite and a repellant. They were beautiful and the deer were “deerly” departed to another area in the neighborhood.
Make your effort and your money count by actively gardening in the fall. You work “yard” for the money and next spring you’ll be glad you did.
In social media lately a post has been circulating about the use of diapers to improve your plants. If you want to “pamper” your plants or give your houseplant a “huggie” I suppose you could consider using a diaper. You see the super absorbent material in disposable diapers is just that….”SAP” or super absorbent polymers. The “bottom-line” is it’s much easier to use “Soil Moist” granules where you can use just a few in the soil to help retain moisture. Each granule can hold 30 times or more it’s weight in moisture. Understanding OVER-watering kills many plants be careful how much you use. Want to learn more? Check out this video of a recent TV segment I did on the subject……