First one up — Fanny’s aster (shown above). A superior selection of our native aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius, recently changed by bored taxonomists to Symphytotrichum oblonglifolius), ‘Fanny’ grows into a dense mound about 3 feet tall and wide. Hundreds of rich purple, daisy-shaped blooms smother this tough perennial in October and November. Give it sun and well-drained soil. Crushed leaves emit a lemony scent and butterflies love the flowers.
How many of you out there think goldenrod causes hay fever? GOLDENROD DOES NOT CAUSE HAY FEVER! Ragweed does.
Lots of goldenrods are native to the South. Some are invasive, but here’s one that’s not — ‘Fireworks’ rough-leaf goldenrod(Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’). It forms a non-spreading clump about 3 feet tall and wide. Sprays of bright-yellow blooms explode atop the foliage in late summer and fall, attracting butterflies from all over. Combine it with blue and purple flowers, like Fanny’s aster and wild ageratum. Give it sun and well-drained soil.
Wear protective eyewear when ‘Neon’ showy sedum blooms!
If you have trouble sleeping at night, don’t plant ‘Neon’ showy sedum (Sedum spectabile ‘Neon’) beneath your bedroom window! The unearthly bubblegum-pink glow from the blooms atop this succulent perennial in late summer and fall will burn right through your eyelids.
‘Neon’ makes a clump of plump, gray-green leaves about 18 inches tall and wide. Do butterflies like it too? You bet. It’s great for containers or the front of a mixed border. Give ‘Neon’ showy sedum lots of sun and well-drained soil. Forget about ever watering. It doesn’t need it.
Chinese elm — My favorite medium-size shade & street tree.
Most shade trees that grow fast are horrible candidates for the average home garden. (Think silver maple, willows, mulberry, mimosa, sycamore, and poplars.) They’re messy, buggy, weedy, weak-wooded, and have shallow roots that invade water lines and lift up pavement. Not Chinese elm (Ulmus parviflora), especially a superior selection named ‘Allee’ (pronounced al-lay).
Thanks for reading,