For those who are a little confused by this episode’s theme, let us try to explain. Yes, all garden beds are built with plants. But there are certain plants that are such solid performers that they are the perfect jumping-off point for building a bed. These are not the dramatic focal points that catch everyone’s attention, nor are they the stoic bones of the garden that just play a background role. These are the perfect chicken tenders around which the rest of the meal comes together. (Steve would’ve preferred a baked goods analogy here, but you don’t always get what you want.) Looking to start a new garden and need ideas of where to start? Or do you need more solid performers to round out a bed that is lacking something, but you don’t know what? These plants could help.
Expert testimony: Richie Steffen, executive director of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden in Seattle
‘Sikes Dwarf’ oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sikes Dwarf’, Zones 5–9)
Bird’s nest spruce (Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’, Zones 2–8)
‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ hosta (Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, Zones 3–8)
‘Caesar’s Brother’ Siberian iris (Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’, Zones 4–9)
‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, Zones 4–8)
Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5–8)
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus cvs., Zones 3–8)
- ‘Stowe Pillar’
‘Lunar Eclipse’ baptisia (Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’, Zones 4–8)
Pinky Winky® panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘DVP PINKY’, Zones 3–9)
‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Zones 3–9)
‘Glowing Embers’ bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Glowing Embers’, Zones 5–9)
Koster’s Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’, Zones 4–8)
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