By: Kim Charles

Acanthus mollis-Bears britches: I planted acanthus several times before this one took.  The original plant put out some runners which I have relocated to other locations.  This is a rugged plant with bright, dark green foliage that works in full sun to at least half shade.  The flowers are not spectacular, but are an added attraction.  

Central Michigan gardener, Dale Dailey, shares his insights with us on ten plants that stand out in his garden.

"Gardening in central Michigan is a bit of a challenge, but there are several great plants that I have discovered that adventurous gardeners might enjoy. They are not necessarily my favorites, but each plant has an unusual quality worth considering. I hope you find the suggestions useful. It was difficult selecting only ten plants. I’ll possibly do another posting in the future."

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Acer griseum-Paperbark mapIe: I bought my tree 20+ years ago from Mellingers, a mail order firm that is no longer in business.  The cost was $7.50—what a bargain.  The tree has matured and is now an absolute beauty, producing seeds that I have collected and started several siblings.


Calendula-Mom's Norway flowers: This annual deserves consideration in gardens where a patch of bright yellow or orange color is needed.  I received my seeds from my mother twenty-five years ago.  She scarfed a few seed pods while visiting a garden in Norway.  We still call them Mom’s Norway flowers.  The plant self-seeds, but is easily controllable and produces abundant flowers by July 4th, that continue throughout the rest of the summer.  It does well with full to half day of sun.

Coryalis lutea: This is a friendly plant.  It likes shade, but will tolerate at least half sun.  It forms a neat clump with bright yellow flowers that last most of the summer, providing a bright touch in shade settings.  It does pop out seeds and start new plants, but it is not aggressive and is easily controllable.  It has a knack for finding the right spot to fill in.


Filipendula ulmaria 'Variegate': I bought this plant from the original Heronswood Nursery 24 years ago.  The variegated foliage is spectacular and the white flowers are a bonus.  It does very well in full sun.


Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa': Fortunately, I have space on my property for many amazing trees, including seven very different varieties of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) --they are among my favorites.  The 'tortuosa' is recommended because of its limited size.  Another alternative would be the Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor' which is stunning and a relatively slow grower.

Inula magnifica: The yellow flowered plant in front is the inula. I obtained the seed for this plant from a garden in Germany many years ago.  It is a tall, rugged plant and does very well in half shade.  I also have a shorter version of the plant that does well in full sun.  I’m not sure what the white flowered plant in the back is.

Opuntia polyacantha 'Nebraska Orange'-Prickly pear: I have eight different hardy cacti and five of them have bloomed this year.  I live in a zone 5 environment, but the cacti have survived and multiplied in my gravel/rock garden.  It's always a treat to see them bloom.

Picea glauca 'Jean Dilly'-Dwarf Alberta spruce: The dwarf Alberta spruce in the middle, provides an interesting texture and color accent in an area that is semi-shade.  I have several other dwarf conifers in the garden that provide a similar focus.

Spigelia marilandica: This native plant is not showy, but in a shade garden with some supporting pink astilbe, the bright red flowers pop.

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