There are many possible answers to this question, and we could gather an assortment, yet no one might mention it. But the best response is so obvious to a few people that it’s really hard to believe it can be an impossible secret to everyone else!
Don’t you hate those kind of secrets?
That’s the reason I’m writing (and not worrying)!
I guess it’s just not common knowledge . . . although it’s a common plant. Isn’t that sad? I shake my head at this situation all the time. Everybody knows its name. But the reason everybody should know–and act on–this simple suggestion is that it’s one of the most powerful and simple improvements you can make to a property. Here’s a question: If you could do that now, why wouldn’t you?
Yeah, once you find out . . . you realize the choice is obvious!–but STILL hardly anybody does. Hardly anybody will even act on this advice . . . will make their neighbors jealous . . . will have the best-looking yard around when everyone else’s looks like . . . go ahead and mouth it along with me . . . . it’s seen better days. If your yard were to decline to the point where looked like that every year PREDICTABLY . . . and you could do something about it, would you?
This proposal is not the bandage-on-the-broken-arm approach everyone else takes. This way is much smarter and far better. This choice is making a small investment that will appreciate in value with each year that goes by.
Remember, plants can die and get munched on, but this recommendation is almost foolproof. Not expensive. Available nationwide . . . but unlikely to be found at your local garden center (go ahead and look and prove me wrong)!
And the key, the simple solution, that plant everybody knows the name of but nobody’s planting–yet SHOULD BE–is . . .
Drumroll please . . . .
But why stop there? Rather than giving you one superb choice with tremendous variety, I suggest expanding this to
A – B – C
Asters and Anemones
Boltonias and Begonias
Chrysanthemums and Cimicifugas (now renamed!)
I wanted to expand to a-b-c in order to include the options for shade, actaeas, anemones, and begonias, and the additional tones of purple available from asters that differ from purple mums.
All these are perennial plants, which means they’re cold-hardy and live longer than one year. The least hardy option is the begonia. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden it’s hardy only to zone 6, or temperatures just below zero, and marginally hardy in St. Louis.
The rest can take considerably more cold. Mums can even grow up to zone 3! It depends on the variety, though, and not all mums will overwinter reliably in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Certainly not if planted late, like after Labor Day! The University of Minnesota has bred many varieties that will succeed in northern climates. Boltonias are usually seen in white, which is perfectly acceptable and welcome, especially at this time, since it looks so crisp, but I wanted to mention that there’s a lavender variety called ‘Jim Crockett’ and you should look for another pastel called ‘Pink Beauty‘. Note that it will never look as dark as this picture. One source recommends combining this variety with ironweed and ornamental grass . . . only if you want a smashing scene!
Anemones are a fine choice nearly all over the country, but particularly if you’re in the Midwest–or maybe even if you’re not–check out the evaluation of varieties by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Much more could be said about all of these options, and will be . . . but now is your time to act, so get going!
“Learn your alphabet” and build on these fundamentals. Your only regret will be not having more.
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