‘Admiration’ Barberry

It might all be my fault—whenever I wash my car, it rains like crazy for the next week. And I’ve been washing my car a lot lately, it seems. I apologize, and I’ll try to stop; after all, we could all use a good dose of sun! If all the rain this spring has you down, cheer up—there are some great new plants to make way for in your garden this season, rain or shine!

First, a couple of tips on planting. One of the most common questions I hear is, “Can I plant this now?” Here’s the scoop: start now with perennials, shrubs and trees; wait to plant annuals. I know we’re all eager for warm weather, but unless you have a plan to protect your annuals from frost—which can happen until around the first of May—it’s not worth your time and investment to plant flowers yet. Practice patience until the first of the month and you’ll be glad you did!

Annuals aside, other plants for your garden won’t mind the occasional frost we get this time of year. Consider this: whether it’s sitting in a pot outdoors at a nursery or in the ground at your house makes no difference to a plant—in fact, it would likely be better off in the ground starting to take root so it can grow as soon as the weather turns nice.

Keeping that in mind, take a look at your yard and determine where you can make room for some exciting new plants—and this year there are plenty of new selections to choose from. First on my list are a couple of great new varieties of barberry. ‘Orange Rocket’ is a columnar type with unique, dusky-orange leaves all season long. It has very upright growth reaching four feet while spreading just over a foot across. ‘Admiration’ is a dwarf barberry introduction—with beautiful gold-edged red leaves, it tops out at around two feet tall and wide.

If flowering shrubs are more your thing, you’re in luck! This year, I’m excited about ‘Bombshell’ hydrangea, a re-blooming dwarf variety well-suited for full sun to full shade. Once it starts blooming in early summer, it won’t stop until frost. Add to that the fact that it only reaches three feet tall and you have a great addition to your garden regardless of available space.

For perennials, there are a several brand new (or new in the last couple years) plants I’ve grown to love in particular. The first is a brand new hosta: ‘American Hero.’ This army-green and cream variegated plant displays bold contrasts throughout summer on slightly twisted leaves. If you love hostas, this is a great addition to your garden—furthermore, you’ll support a charity that provides lawncare to the families of our troops stationed overseas.

A final selection that I think you’ll enjoy adding to your garden is a dwarf bleeding heart. While bleeding hearts are often considered old fashioned, this plant redefines nearly every aspect of the species. ‘Burning Hearts’ displays deep burgundy flowers set atop fine, silvery blue foliage—and since the plant stands at only a foot tall, it’s excellent for the front of a flower bed or in a patio container.

While we wait for warmer spring weather to come, now is the perfect time to get started planting shrubs, trees or perennials in your yard. With plenty of new introductions in every plant category, this season of gardening is one you’re sure to find exciting. Between rains, find a few minutes and stop by Vander Giessen Nursery to see what you can use!