Shade Perennials

Hosta Venus

Posted on Apr 20, 2007 | 0 comments

There is a hosta with a flower like just about nothiner you've ever seen on a hosta– the Hosta Venus has huge, showy white twice-double blooms that come out late in the summer and in the early fall, after most Hostas have passed.

Hosta blooms are usually a little more subtle, but this giant fragrant flower with definitely catch attention. Hostas are traditionally known more for impressive foliage and being a great shade plant. However, when you see this hosta in bloom you will understand why this is such a popular item.

Plant in light to medium shade in well-drained moisture retentive soil enriched with organics. Mature plant makes a great shade garden plant and the blooms make excellent cut flowers.

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Shade Perennials

Posted on Apr 13, 2007 | 2 comments

Shade plants are often come in a very limited color range because there is not enough sunlight to bring out most of those beautiful bright floral colors, and deep color is usually too dark to stand out. When designing a shade garden, one must rely heavily on textures and light-colored shade plants that will stand out in the low light.

This situation forces the gardener to be creative and shapes the subtle feel of the shade garden. Thankfully, there are some plants out there that have very interesting textures and the light eye-catching colors that are perfect for you shade garden. There are some new colors of fern, brilliant variegated hostas, and my favorite, new hues of heuchera.

Heuchera comes in a wide variety of colors and has a ruffled texture that will add interest to your shade garden. My favorite variety of heuchera is Wayside Gardens' Heuchera 'Ginger Ale' which has a rich amber color that will stand out against any deep green or purple foliage in your shade garden.

John Durst
Wayside Gardens Voice

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Echinacea, The Hardy Coneflower

Posted on Feb 26, 2007 | 2 comments

Echinacea_summer_sky Coneflowers are especially hardy, Japanese beetles can be a problem in some areas, but they are resistant to mostly everything. They are beautiful and showy no matter what cultivar you choose. They have large brightly colored flowers with the big cone-like centers that give them their name. They grow to be about three feet tall and have big coarse leaves. They love sunlight and well-drained soil.

Echinacea, the hardy coneflower is a long-time garden favorite. This year’s line-up from Wayside Gardens is perfect for collectors and classic gardeners alike. As soon as you open the Wayside Gardens Spring Gardening 2007 catalog you are hit on pages two and three by the beautiful Big Sky series Echinaceas which you can buy separately or together in the “Cone Crazy” Echinacea collection. On pages 90 and 91 you can see the rest of the the Echinaceas offered this spring, including Rassmatazz, the first ever double Echinacea. There is plenty to choose from at Wayside Gardens if you are looking for coneflowers this spring.

For more information about the care of your Echinacea from

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Good Research Makes a Happy Gardener

While probing for ideas that might add a little intrigue to the pitifully uninspiring flora of my backyard, I was told by a fellow Wayside Gardens employee to check out bog gardens. My first thought was of a marsh or swamp, something more appropriate for a wildlife preserve or ghost story than my simple little yard. However, trusting my source, I dove, head-first into that murky swamp of information, the all-knowing internet. Using my favorite search engine, I typed in the obvious “bog gardens” and amassed a king’s feast of information that was all completely useless.

While wading through the many explanations of what a bog garden might be and the varied items that I should purchase to enhance my garden, I realized the one thing I always try to tell myself before starting any home-improvement project: Always start your research with reliable academic resources, and work your way up to the commercial resources. That is one thing I have learned while working at Wayside Gardens. By the time you get there, you should know what it is you need to buy. I had not even thought to ask myself if I even knew what a bog was much, less how to plant anything in one. So, I did my research.

Apparently, if you have a low spot in your yard that never completely dries and you plant some elephant ears there, you have not created a bog garden as some of the sources I found would lead you to believe. It is a clever way to turn a problem into an asset, but not a bog garden. A bog is actually a type of wetland formed from a deposit of dead plant matter, most commonly some type of moss or lichen. Its moisture comes almost completely from precipitation and tends to be slightly acidic. An exotic environment for exotic plants- It’s exactly what I was looking for.

I also found that recreating this environment on the small scale is not very difficult; some people even create indoor bog gardens in terrariums, which would be a perfect way to display those bog-loving carnivorous plants and make an excellent conversation piece. I just needed a place that will hold moisture and that I could fill with peat. I had the perfect place, that gross little pond insert that I installed two seasons ago, or as I like to call it, my “mosquito nursery”. I just cleaned that out and poked a few holes in the bottom for drainage- lined the bottom with coarse sand and filled it with moistened peat. The moss maintains the acidity and I use a soaker hose to keep my bog damp. I planted an Iris “Holden’s Child, this very interesting Juncus effusus Unicorn, and two Pine Hibiscuses. Some of these plants could even be purchased right here at Wayside Gardens. Situated in the center of my garden, accented with two lawn gnomes and a pink flamingo, my bog has definitely added spice to my back yard.

John Durst
Wayside Gardens Voice

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Autumn Fern Brilliance – NEW PHOTOS

Posted on Oct 10, 2006 |

Dryopteris_brilliance_oct_06 To Customer Service — This Fern is a Web Special this week, so I thought I’d share with you some photos I took last week at the Garden Center. These were all Ferns that were out on display in the shade area, and they looked GREAT. They’re big, really well branched, and healthy.

Dryopteris_brilliance_showing_fall_color_1  As y’all know, we had temperatures in the low 90’s last week, so they weren’t showing too much color, but I did manage to find one frond that was turning nicely. A few more days like today and nights in the 50’s and they will be all colored up!

Dryopteris_brilliance_habit_shot_oct_06 I also got this habit shot to show just how much they’re bursting out of those skinny-and-deep 3-inch pots. If any customer is wondering, I would say the average plant is about 8 inches across. Pretty cool for 1-year-olds!

Martin Santos

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Sharon, I don’t know if customers ever ask what our containers are made of or how we arrived at the sizes and materials we use, but I thought I’d fill in a bit of background in case anybody is curious.

We use nursery trade containers, which are made from poly resin to be lightweight but strong enough to hold their shape and be re-used if the customer desires. They can also easily be cut away with garden shears or even household scissors for customers not wanting to pry the plant out of the container.

As to sizing, we match the size of the plant and its root system to the size of the container. The idea is to use the smallest possible container appropriate for that plant, so we don’t have to charge an arm and a leg for shipping. I know I don’t have to tell you, Sharon, how much gardeners hate paying those shipping fees, and I don’t blame them. Soil is heavy, and another reason we use the light poly resin pots when ever we can is that they weigh almost nothing, and can be stacked in the garage or wherever without taking up much space.

I know people complain about plastic, but to an old-timer like me, it’s a godsend. Now for putting it in the garden or on the deck, I still prefer terracotta and pottery, even though it breaks, just because I don’t think anything looks as good or breathes as well. But as a nurseryman, these poly resin blends are nothing short of a miracle. When I first got into the nursery business in the early 1950s in California, things were just getting started in terms of being able to ship plants in pots. Refrigerated trucking had come into being a while back, and the interstate highways were being laid out everywhere you looked. These two factors opened up a whole new world to wholesale plant growers. Suddenly you weren’t limited to seeds, bulbs, and dormant plants — you could send a potted tree clear across the country if you wanted!

Now, many of the early efforts to mail potted plants were dismal failures because the plants had been grown in greenhouses. The minute they hit real air, let alone a stuffy old truck for 5 to 8 days, they began to stress. So in the 50’s we looked long and hard at growing plants in containers in the field. It sounds like such a simple idea now, but it was brand new then. And in California, we were among the first to be able to do it, because of our year-round mild climate. Field-grown plants were much, much hardier than most greenhouse ones, and they could grow big old root systems right in the pot they would ship in. Hallelujah!

Of course, we didn’t have these nifty poly resin jobbies then. Our first pots were nothing more than a grown-up version of the coffee can, which every gardener in America used from the minute the coffee can was invented. We needed something bigger, so we went around to the schools, restaurants, and even a local prison and salvaged empty cans of pudding, vegetables, and yes, coffee by the hundred pound. Of course this is long before "recycling" with a capital R, but all of us had been through the Depression and the War, so we knew how to turn a worn-out tire into elastic for our britches. Digging through trash to liberate some giant metal cans was nothing. Matter of fact, I loved it, because you’d always find something unexpected. The things those places would throw out — reams of paper where just the top few sheets were dirty; whole flats of lettuce that only had a couple of rotten heads; etc., etc. Once I found a whole case of red lightbulbs, only one broken.

But I’m getting off track. Anyway, I used to put old worn out socks over my hands to try to cut back on the number of cuts you’d get grabbing the cut off edges of those cans. They’d slice right through our cloth and rubber gloves, and we couldn’t afford new pairs of those every week.

So we’d hose out those cans, jab a couple holes in the bottom, fill them up and plant them out, and they were just the ticket for growing shrubs and trees. Of course, they weighed a ton — we’d always load them into the truck for shipping before we watered them, so they wouldn’t be quite so heavy. But loading those cans was the worst part of the job. We had to put down a tarp on the floor of the truck to catch all the dirt and water, but then we’d slip and slide all over the place as we loaded in the cans. If you felt yourself falling, you were afraid to reach out and grab anything, because of all those sharp edges. But all in all, it was a revolutionary new way to grow and sell plants, and pretty exciting for the time.

Well, I let myself run on a bit here, but I thought some of you younger folks might be interested in how we got from there to here in terms of packaging! So you can see why blow-molded plastic pots are such a treat to me.

Over and out,


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