Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 87: Plants to Build a Bed Around

Video by Danielle Sherry and Steve Aitken. Edited by Kara Demos.

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



Steve’s Plants

‘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)

‘Sikes Dwarf’ oakleaf hydrangea
‘Sikes Dwarf’ oakleaf hydrangea
Bird’s nest spruce
Bird’s nest spruce
‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ hosta
‘Caesar’s Brother’ Siberian iris
‘Caesar’s Brother’ Siberian iris

Danielle’s Plants
‘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)

'Sun King' aralia
‘Sun King’ aralia
Japanese stewartia (fall color)
Japanese stewartia (fall color)
 ‘Stowe Pillar’ Eastern white pine (perhaps)
‘Stowe Pillar’ Eastern white pine (perhaps)
'Lunar Eclipse' baptisia
‘Lunar Eclipse’ baptisia

Expert’s Plants

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)

Pinky Winky® panicle hydrangea
Pinky Winky® panicle hydrangea

'Glowing Embers' bigleaf hydrangea
‘Glowing Embers’ bigleaf hydrangea
'Limelight' panicle hydrangea
‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea
Koster’s Hinoki cypress
Koster’s Hinoki cypress


View Comments


  1. Doxnmomx2 05/21/2021

    Where are the photos of the plants mentioned? Thank you!

  2. kacci 05/23/2021

    What happen to the pictures that represent the plants that
    are being discussed? " show plants " does not exist".
    Unhappy Member for 20 years

  3. mabelgoodrich 05/31/2021

    The post titles does not indicates the content! Please could you recheck the post, especially for the photo? I will pick some of these wonderful ways in my new home decor ideas soon! Thanks for sharing this post with us!

  4. User avater
    farmerX 06/23/2021

    Show notes? Where? Come on....

  5. Mle214 10/13/2021

    Thanks for sharing ideas. love this podcast. more power guys.


  6. brielleluna 11/23/2021

    These plants are so beautiful! They would make a perfect garden! :)

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