“Plant It Pink” Planting Program

Invincibelle Spirit ll Hydrangea

Invincibelle Spirit ll Hydrangea  


Invincibelle Spirit ll (photo provided by Proven Winners)

Invincibelle Spirit ll (photo provided by Proven Winners)

To build awareness and show support for those affected by breast cancer, over 40 volunteers filled public gardens and surrounding areas with pink plants in downtown Haslett, a suburb of Lansing, MI. The Invincibelle® Spirit II hydrangeas are a beautiful reminder that we are not alone in our hopes and prayers for a cure.

With one in eight women facing a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). BCRF is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the U.S. and provides critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship. Since 2009, over $903,000 has been raised for BCRF through plant sales and Pink Day fundraisers hosted by independent garden centers across the United States and Canada.

This donation effort continues the legacy of giving one dollar($) from each plant sold to BCRF. Invincibelle® Spirit II (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit ll’) is a 2015 introduction. It is an improvement upon the original Invincibelle® Spirit, from the breeding work of Dr. Tom Ranney at the North Carolina Research and Extension Center at Mills River, NC. Invincibelle Spirit ll hydrangea has brighter flower color, stronger stems, and superior container presentation. It is also a reliable re-bloomer that sparkles in gardens from Manitoba to Mobile.

Simple Growing Information: Smooth hydrangea (H. arborescens) is a loosely branched deciduous shrub that grows to 3 – 6 feet tall and wide (USDA hardiness zones 3-9). This native species is easy to grow in average, moisture, well-drained soil in partial sun to shade. Invincibelle® Spirit hydrangea series grows more compact at 3 – 4 feet in height and width. It flowers on new wood from late spring thru early summer. Prune this hydrangea after the main flowering period has finished. Irrigate shrub(s) during dry periods to keep summer foliage looking fresh.

Credit: sales data on Invincibelle Spirit II hydrangea provided by Mark Osgerby, Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc. in Grand Haven, Michigan. Photos provided by Proven Winners.

Seeding Shady Areas Of Your Property

Shady Patch of Lawn

Shady Patch of Lawn

How many times have you been told: “you can’t grow lawn grass in shady areas”. Most lawn grasses perform best in full sunlight. Red or chewings fescues (Festuca rubra) perform under as little as 2-3 hours of direct or dappled sunlight.

Shade fescues are relatively easy to maintain. Mowing height should be 2 inches high in spring and fall and 2 ½ inches in summer. They do not require much fertilizer. Red fescues tolerate winter cold temperatures, but are less drought and heat tolerant than tall fescues. They also resent heavy foot traffic.

Fertilize shade fescue lawns at least twice annually – March or April and again in September or October. When starting a new seeding, use 3-4 lbs. seed/1000 sq. ft. rate.

Preparing new ground: rototill to a depth of 4-6 inches. Have a soil test performed at least 4-6 weeks prior to seeding to accurately determine how much lime (or gypsum) and fertilizer to apply. If the soil has not been tested in 3 or more years, apply a complete lawn fertilizer (contains N, P, and K) according to recommended rate on the package. Evenly rake fertilizer and organic amendments into soil and eliminate soil ruts.

Evenly disburse (sow) grass seed according to recommended package seeding rates. Lightly rake the seed into the soil ⅛ inch deep. Keep the area watered daily (if no rainfall) until seeds have germinated (usually in 10-14 days) and the seedlings have grown sufficiently to establish a lawn.

Extra step prior to seeding: if the site is excessively weedy, mow the area and apply a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup™).

Covering Bare Spots: Mow lawn closely, rake up cut grass, leaves, stones, sticks and other debris. Sow seed in bare areas by hand, fertilize and add soil amendments as needed. Seeding rate is 1-2 lbs per 1000 square feet.

Flowering Cabbage and Kale For Autumn Gardens

Collection of Flowering Kale at Dallas Arboretum

Collection of Flowering Kale at Dallas Arboretum


Flowering Kale in Container

Flowering Kale in Container






Creating both edible and ornamentally pleasing vegetables has been a goal of plant breeders. Flowering cabbage and kale (Brassica oleracea) are a new landscaping niche in the autumn garden. Plants develop huge leafy rosettes and eventually form heads. Color patterns on leaves include white, cream, red and purple shades. The younger center leaves of the heads are mostly edible.

Grow ornamental types like you would their edible cousins in garden beds or in containers. Plants are cold hardy and make it through winter without injury in zones 7 and 8. Further north in zones 5 and 6, winter treats the foliage more harshly and plants start to decline around Thanksgiving. A touch of frost brings out the blues and purples of leaf color.

In most growing regions growing ornamental kales and cabbages in full sun is preferred. Further south, take into account the intense sun in south Florida, Texas, and California; light afternoon shade is the rule for heads to reach maximum size. Mature plants may measure 1 to 1½ feet across.

In late summer transplants are set out and should be watered, fertilized, and sprayed for insects. Set plants about 1½ feet apart in a garden (or containers) when summer heat begins to moderate and cool nights have returned. Lightly fertilize plants monthly with water soluble fertilizers such as Miracle Gro®, Daniels®, or Nature’s Source®.

If white cabbage or sulfur butterflies are still fluttering around, spray with a biological insecticide such as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) or other pesticides sold at most independent garden centers. An alternative to spraying pesticides is to cover plants with a row tunnel or finely spun fabric netting in late summer while caterpillar activity is still high. Choose a different planting spot each year so that soil-borne diseases do not build up in the soil.

Broadleaf Weed Control Starts In Late Summer

Thistles difficult to manage

Thistles difficult to manage

Winter annual weeds in fall garden

Winter annual weeds in fall garden








Broadleaf weed control takes center stage for chores to tackle in home lawns and gardens in late summer. Many winter annuals like henbit and chickweed, common inhabitants in the early spring garden start to germinate on the early days of autumn. Perennial dandelions are poking their heads up after summer dormancy. Spring and early summer herbicide applications may not provide as good of control as in fall.

In the spring there is the danger of pesticide drift onto nearby good landscape plants. In the fall deciduous shrubs and trees are shedding their leaves and become less susceptible to the spray drift from Roundup and phenoxy herbicides (active ingredients: 2,4-D, dicamba and MCPP). Be careful not to overapply dicamba in ground around trees and shrubs you want to keep.

Weedy trees, shrubs and vines are also tough to eliminate.  Examples are poison ivy, English ivy, Virginia creeper, tree of Heaven (Ailanthus), and thorny brambles. These are best managed starting in mid- to late-summer. Some broadleaf weeds such as thistles, knotweeds and spurge do not give up easily and multiple applications are the rule. Heavy weed invasion in lawns represents poor mowing practices, low soil fertility, or all the above.

Thoroughly read, understand, and follow all information on herbicide labels. Again, never spray on windy days; avoid hot days (over 85 °F) and herbicide volatility. Don’t spray weeds when they are drought stressed. Do not spray if rainfall is forecast within 24 hours following application. Don’t mow for 2-3 days before or after application. Wait a minimum of 30 days before seeding an area treated with broadleaf herbicides.

Important rule on fall spraying: Outside temperatures should be 60 °F and warmer over a 6 hour interval for the foliar herbicide spray to be absorbed inside the target weeds.

Japanese Asters (Kalimeris) Are Summer-blooming Gems

Japanese aster (Kalimeris)

Japanese aster (Kalimeris)

Double Japanese asters (Kalimeris pinnatifida) are not true asters. They bloom in summer unlike the more popular fall blooming asters (Symphyotrichum spp.). Essentially, the genus Kalimeris (from Asia) and Boltonia (U.S. native) are closely related and used interchangeably.

‘Pinnatifida’ is without question the best known cultivar. In August the plant is smothered with 1-inch diameter semi-double white daisy flowers with buttery yellow centers. Blossoms mimic miniature mums. It forms an upright, bushy 2 to 3 feet tall plant. Small basal leaves form a rosette, each 2-3 inch long, narrow, and deeply cut lobes (pinnate); even smaller 1 inch long lance-shaped medium green leaves form around flowers.

Semi-double flowers do not reseed; over time a single plant will sucker and colonize around itself, and are not invasive. Kalimeris may be divide in spring to maintain overall vigor and to form new starts in your garden or friend’s. Fertilize in early sping with a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote™, Nutrikote™ or Nature’s Source™. Foliage and flowers are not trouble by disease or pest issues.

Kalimeris is easily grown in moist, well-drained soil in full to partial sun (USDA hardiness zones 6-9). Mulching aids to reduce mid-summer drought stress and induce flower power. In hot southeast U.S. partial afternoon shade keeps plants blooming longer.

In shady spots plants may take on a wild rambling look; either cut-back them by half in early summer to develop a dense shrubby habit or remove surrounding vegetation. Utilize kalimeris for floral color in a perennial border, wild garden or meadow.

Japanese aster was a favorite of the late Elizabeth Lawrence, a wonderful southern garden writer.

New PG Hydrangeas Excel In Performance

Hydrangea pan 'Little Lime'

H. paniculata ‘Little Lime’

Hydrangea 'Quick Fire'

Hydrangea ‘Quick Fire’

Panicle, PeeGee or PG hydrangeas (Hydrangea panculata) brighten up the July and August garden landscape. They’re native to China and Japan.

They grow and bloom almost anywhere in the U.S. (USDA hardiness zones 3 – 8). Unlike mophead hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), that often fail in full day sun, PGs excel in 6 hours or more of sun.

PG hydrangeas are vigorous growers with upright branching and coarse textured deciduous foliage. Depending on variety, shrubs grow 3-15 feet (some to 25 feet) tall. Multi-branched shoots are clothe with dark green, oval shaped leaves and are topped with upright, sharply-pointed, conical, 6-8 inch long terminal flower panicles. Flowers may be a mix of both fertile and sterile florets and bloom from mid-summer into fall. PG hydrangeas are pruned any time from late fall to mid-spring. They may also be trained into a tree form.

Most gardeners today know PGs by the best selling cultivar ‘Limelight’ which has become the standard for excellence. It grows 6-10 feet tall (depending on amount of annual pruning provided); heavy with 6-8 inch, conical shaped, terminal flower panicles; branching is very upright

'Limelight' at NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC

‘Limelight’ at NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC

Three of “new” best paniculatas are:

‘Little Lime’ – grows 5-7 feet tall; large, tightly packed, lime-white flowers that turn shades of pink where summers are cool.

‘Quickfire’ – grow 6-8 feet tall and equally wide;  blooms are white, become pink after a few weeks, and finish rosy-pink.

Bobo™ – this Belgium introduction is a very compact size that is ideal size-wise in small gardens and patio containers; large white loose blooms midsummer to fall.

Bacterial wilt, leaf spot, rust, and mildew diseases and aphids and mites are occasional disease and insect problems. Poor site selection often enhances problems with diseases and pests.

Garden Phlox – Select Mildew Resistant Varieties

Garden phlox (bicolor)

Garden phlox (bicolor)

Phlox 'David'

Phlox ‘David’








Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), aka summer phlox, is native from New York to Iowa south to Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas (USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8(9)). They are valued for their long beautiful floral display and fragrance. In the wild phlox grow it in moist, rich open woodlands, alluvial soils along streams and rich garden soils.

The right location is an absolute when growing garden phlox. Phlox prefer an compost-rich, moist, moderately acidic, well-drained soil. Best flowering on sturdy healthy plants is in full sun. Space plants adequately for good air circulation to prevent or reduce powdery mildew problems. Phlox are intolerant of dry soils and summer dry spells. Avoid overhead watering and trickle irrigation; mulching helps to cool soil and maintain soil moisture. Remove faded flower panicles to prolong bloom period and to prevent unwanted self-seeding (cultivars generally do not come true from seed).

Garden phlox are clump growers and grow 2-4 feet tall and  2-3 feet wide on sturdy stems. The dark green lance-shaped leaves are 4-6 inches long and prominently veined. Dome shaped flower clusters are densely packed with a hundred or more  1 inch wide tubular florets. Each individual floret has a long corolla tube and five flat petal-like lobes. Color choices include white, lavender, pink, rose, red and bi-colors. Butterflies and hummingbirds swarm around the fragrant flowers; deer usually stay away.

Divide clumps every 3-4 years to maintain plant vigor.

Phlox is not always an easy plant to grow. Powdery mildew and occasional spider mites can be troublesome, particularly in the southeastern U.S.  Do your homework when selecting the cultivars to plant in your garden. Check for trial garden evaluations at state agricultural university. A cultivar rated as resistant in powdery mildew in Chicago may not be in Philadelphia, Atlanta, or Dallas. In a 1999-2001 North Carolina State University Trial in Mills River, no varieties proved to be completely powdery mildew resistant. However, these cultivars exhibit a high degree of disease resistance: ‘David,’ ‘Delta Snow,’ ‘ Natascha,’ ‘Robert Poore,’ ‘Speed Limit 45’ and the species Phlox caroliniana.

Some comments from Mt. Cuba phlox trials (2015-17) in Delaware have been added. This garden blog will be updated in future.

Powdery mildew resistant cultivars to try:

‘David’ – pure white tubular florets; 3-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide; floral display not impressive in Mt. Cuba trial.

‘Delta Snow’ – snowy white tubular / purple eye florets; 2-3 feet tall and wide; plants became floppy in midsummer in Mt. Cuba trial.

Flame™ Pink – fuchsia pink /darker pink eye florets; compact 15-18 inches tall and wide;  some leaf spotting in late summer.

‘Katherine’ – dense, blue-lilac / white center florets; 2-3 feet tall and wide; spider mites problem in Mt. Cuba trial.

‘Minnie Pearl’ – white florets; 20 inch tall and wide; repeat blooming; floppy plant habit in late summer.

‘Robert Poore’ – rich lavender purple florets; 4-5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide; spider mites problem in Mt. Cuba trial..

‘Shortwood’ – pink / dark pink eye florets; 42-48 inches tall and 24-30 inches wide.

‘Volcano Purple’ – lavender/purple / white eye florets; very compact 12-20 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide.

Joe Pye Weed Is No Longer A “Weed”

Joy Pye Weed and Goldenrod (Solidago)

Joy Pye (Eupatorium) and Goldenrod (Solidago)

Eupatorium dubium 'Baby Joe'

Eupatorium dubium ‘Baby Joe’ at Univ. of Tennessee Gardens, Knoxville









U.S. native Joe Pye (Eupatorium spp.), formerly “Joe Pye Weed”, has been tamed. Modern day selections grow more compact compared to 8+ feet tall wildlings that inhabit fields across eastern North America (USDA hardiness zones 4-8). Huge, terminal, domed, compound flower heads measure 12-18 inches across (depending on cultivar) and make excellent cut flowers.

The most popular cultivar is ‘Gateway’ (E. purpureum ssp. maculatum ‘Gateway’) which produces magnificent domes of mauve pink flower clusters that sit atop sturdy purple stems. ‘Gateway’ typically stands 4-5 feet tall and erect in clumps and with dense thick inflorescences. Dark green 8-inch long lance-shaped leaves are coarsely-serrated and arranged in whorls of 3-4 on sturdy, wine-red stems.

Common Forms of Joe Pye:

Hollow stemmed Joe Pye (E. fistulosum) is a robust, upright perennial with hollow purple stems accented by huge, rounded, tight clusters of pink or purplish-mauve flowers.

‘Baby Joe’ Joe Pye (E. dubium) – mauve purple flowers appear on 3 to 4 foot tall plants from July to September (zones 3 to 9).

E. rugosa ‘Chocolate’ leaves with deep shiny purple stems makes a wonderful contrast to explosions of white flowers along with numerous kinds of butterflies in September and October.
‘Phantom’ is a new hybrid cultivar of E. maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’ and E. rugosum. Phantom is a very short growing Joe-Pye, just under 3 feet tall. The dome-shaped lavender head flowers appear most of August. The whorled foliage is dark green on sturdy stems.

Joe Pye thrives in moist fertile soils along edges of ponds and streams. Plant is highly drought tolerant, although leaf edges often scorch in dry summers. It is disease and pest resistant and deer and rabbits stay away. Many kinds of butterflies, bees and other pollinators visit the florets. Seedheads persist well into winter and provide food for foraging birds. Keep poisonous leaves of Joe Pye away from grazing animals. Shortened cultivars are great stand-alone flowering perennials and serve as bold background plants.

Herbal folklore: Joe Pye (or Jopi) is named for a traveling Native American medicine man who lived in New England around the American Revolution era. He sold various herbal remedies to the colonists. Historically, Joe Pye weed was utilized to treat typhoid fever.

August Is Also An Important Planting Month

Cabbages heading at Dallas Arboretum in early January

Cabbages heading at Dallas Arboretum in early January

'Wirosa Savoy' Cabbage at Atlanta Botanical Garden in October

‘Wirosa Savoy’ Cabbage at Atlanta Botanical Garden in October

“A” starts the alphabet. To most gardeners April starts out the spring planting season. Temperatures are in the comfortable 70°F degree range. Four months later in August, temperatures outside are sweltering. Many of us call them the hot humid “dog days” of August. Dogs and gardeners are suffering alike.

However, August is also a great time to plant flowers and vegetables. Visit the local garden center and buy large 6 inch size annuals which are often “on sale”. Buy fresh plants and not the potbound, worn out leftover annuals which the store did not sell in the spring. Some of the best to plant in August include petunias, calibrachoas, (million bells), geraniums, snapdragons, diascias, and marigolds. Pansy seed must be started in a cool basement environment under “gro-lights”.

In the mid-South region (USDA hardiness zones 6 and 7), September and October weather is usually great for flowers planted in mid-summer. When setting out plants, water them daily during week one, then every 2-3 days in the 2nd and 3rd weeks. Then, water plants as needed. These annuals are demonstrate exceptional cold tolerance, unfazed by mid-20°F nights in fall.

Many vegetables may be established in August. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, beets, and green beans need 60-70 days above freezing to produce a good crop. Cole crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage are easiest to produce in the late summer into autumn than those started in spring. Spring plants often bolt (go to seed) in the spring as temperatures heat up. Cole crops welcome the cool days of autumn.

In addition, pest activity diminishes with cooler temps. Some pesticide spraying may be needed, although plants can be protected with a cheesecloth or Remay fabric cover. Use a safe bio-insecticide like Dipel or Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) against wormy caterpillar pests.

Chanticleer Garden – A Garden For Ideas


Fall Scene at Chanticleer

Fall Scene at Chanticleer

Tropicals In Terrace Gardens

Tropicals In Terrace Gardens








Chanticleer Garden is an estate and botanical gardens, that bills itself as a “pleasure garden”. Chanticleer is “a garden for ideas”. The property is located at 786 Church Road in Wayne Pennsylvania, approximately 30 minutes of Philadelphia. Chanticleer celebrated its 100 year centennial in 2013 as the Rosengarten estate and 20th year as a public garden. The entrance gate is crested with carved stone roosters (chanticleers in French). The house and grounds have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

Chanticleer is a destination garden to enjoy, learn, and relax. Gather lots of ideas to take home to your property. The garden has evolved greatly since the death of the owner in 1990. As the home of the Rosengartens, Chanticleer is green and beautiful with impressive trees and lawns. Most of the floral and garden development you see today has occurred since 1990, designed by Chanticleer staff and consultants.

Seven horticulturists are assigned to the seven areas of the garden; they design, plant, and maintain their garden area. The Teacup Garden and Chanticleer Terraces feature seasonal plants and bold-textured tropical and subtropical plants. The latter areas change greatly from year to year. In the fall non-hardy plants are dug up and overwintered in greenhouses and basements.

The Tennis Court, Ruin, Gravel Garden, and Pond Garden focus on hardy perennials. The Tennis Court is a floral and foliar delight. The Ruin is a folly, built on the foundation of Adolph Rosengarten, Jr.’s home. It is meant to look as if the house fell into disrepair. The Gravel Garden is hot and dry, a touch of the Mediterranean in Pennsylvania. The Pond area is nothing short of a floral masterpiece.

Asian Woods and Bell’s Woodland are shady areas that feature native plants of eastern Asia and eastern North America. The cut flower and vegetable gardens produce flowers for arrangements and food for the restaurant and staff tables. Surplus goes to a local shelter.

Chanticleer gardeners will answer your questions about our 5,000+ plants. Plant lists and photographs are posted in on-site handmade mailboxes. The information is also available online.

The Chanticleer Foundation owns 47 acres, 35 of which are now open to the public. The main walking path is just under a mile long. Relax, read, sketch, converse, meditate. Picnic tables, benches and Adirondack chairs are spotted around the property for leisure and to catch views of plants and wildlife.

Chanticleer is open Wednesday through Sunday, April through October, from 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. Admission fee: $10 (2014). Plan a minimum 2-3 hour visit.

Woodland Respite

Woodland Respite