Garden Photo of the Day

More Plants for Adventurous Gardeners

Central Michigan isn't too tough for these plants

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail' (zones 4 - 7) grows here between the cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea, zones 4 - 9) in the front and the joe pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, zones 4 - 9) in the rear, providing a spectacular transition. A warning: it can be a bit aggressive and Japanese beetles seem to like the leaves.

Dale Dailey has shared some of his favorite plants with us before (Ten Plants for Adventurous Gardeners) and he’s back with some more plants he really loves! He writes:

With plant catalogs arriving daily and dormant gardening instincts beginning to stir, I thought it might be useful to provide a few more plants worth considering. Gardening in central Michigan is a bit of a challenge, but there are several great plants that I have discovered that adventurous gardeners might want to consider. They are not necessarily my favorites, but each plant has an unusual quality worth considering.

Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Aureomarginatum’ (yellow variegated tuliptree, Zones 4 – 9. The tree has beautiful foliage with the added attraction of tulip flowers. This relatively fast growing tree needs some space.
Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’ (Zones 4 to 8). This plant comes on a little later than I would like, but in my garden it provides an effective backdrop for shade plants on one side and more colorful sunny plants on the other. The variegation of yellow, cream, green, red and black works magic. This plant is native to most of the eastern US, but be warned, it can spread aggressively.
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ hybrid mayapple (Zones 5 – 9). This is only my second year with this plant and I’m looking forward to many more. ‘Spotty Dotty’ comes on later than other mayapples and lasts much longer into summer. The foliage is an instant focal point. My plant tripled in size in one year.
Cornus kousa var chinensis ‘Girard’s Nana’ (Girard’s dwarf Chinese dogwood, Zones 5 – 9). I bought this tree 20 years ago from the original Girard’s Nursery in Ohio. It has everything going for it: compact size, great flowers, interesting fruit, beautiful bark, and it is HARDY.


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View Comments


  1. user-7003263 02/02/2018

    Dale, your postings and the great information about each is really nice. Almost makes me want to move to Michigan ..., almost. I especially like the way you have used the Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail between the cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea) in the front and the joe pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) in back. Combo worth trying here is my warmer Georgia climate. How badly does it attract the Japanese Beetles?

    1. user-7003263 02/03/2018

      Some of us who are also followers of Fine gardening's GPOD have created a facebook group called 'Shared Garden Visions' to augment what Fine Gardening is doing. We invite you to check it out (work still in progress as we are gardeners, not techies). If you are interested, please send me a friend request on FaceBook. Sonya Peel

    2. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      The beetles arrive late in the summer and unfortunately, the plant serves as a magnet.

  2. User avater
    PKKing 02/02/2018

    Thank you for the warning about Persicaria amplexicaulis! I was wowed by its looks, but don't need one more thing to attract the dreaded japanese beetles. The kousa dogwood is gorgeous! You say yours is 20 years old. How tall is it?

    1. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      The tree is about 8 foot tall at this point. It was likely 3-4 foot tall when I bought it, so it is very slow growing. It has really come into its own in the last 5 years.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/02/2018

    Hi, Dale, I am particularly struck with what a beautiful job you have done in your pruning and maintaining of your 'Girard's Nana' Chines dogwood. I always admire gardeners who seem to have the perfect touch in limbing up an ornamental tree and turning it into living art. It seems to be planted in a bit of a gravel garden like Tim's wonderful area from yesterday's GPOD. I didn't know their was a variegated foliage variety of tulip tree...that is very cool.

    1. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      The tulip tree leaves almost glow when there is a bright sun overhead.

  4. Chris_N 02/02/2018

    I'm with Michaele - beautiful specimen of Chinese dogwood. I have to admit that the first thing I noticed were the winecups (Callirhoe sp.) blooming next to the Opuntia in front of the tree. That's a beautiful little garden right there that could fit in many a small lot. Your other plants a great, too. I've never seen a tulip tree with bi-color leaves before either.

  5. NCYarden 02/02/2018

    Great dogwood, can't imagine my garden without at least one. I am a fan of the Persicaria virginiana 'Painters Palette'- fantastic color splash and crazy little seed spikes late season, but true, it can get around if you're not careful. It seems I pull a few newbies each season.

  6. cheryl_c 02/02/2018

    Hi, Dale, Your cornus Kousa stopped me dead in my tracks this morning. Not just the elegance of the tree, but the way you adapted the area under it to shade plants, then worked forward into a gravel garden in front. I also spotted the callirhoe, and recalled a native garden grower here who called the color "the most energizing color in the garden".
    Thanks for sharing your choices. We have learned our lesson with the persicaria - around here (SW MO) they are hugely affected by Japanese beetles - even more than roses. But they sure are pretty.

  7. sheila_schultz 02/02/2018

    You are showing us some beauties today, Dale. The leaves on the yellow variegated tuliptree are gorgeous as are Spotty Dotty's! (You just gotta love that name!) The cornus steals the show, though. It is stunning and it's position adjoining the gravel garden is perfection!
    Have a good weekend everyone, I hope the weather treats you all kindly!

    1. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      Thanks for your kind comments.

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/02/2018

    Nice picks, Dale. Love the foliage on that tulip tree and Painter's Palette has spectacular foliage (although I banished it because it self-sowed so terribly aggressive in my garden. Of all of the Chinese Podophyllum I've tried so far, the hybrid Spotty Dotty is definitely the easiest and performs so well here in Ohio. A must-have shade foliage plant.

  9. Chellemp 02/02/2018

    Beautiful plants and photographs! My all-time favorite tulip tree, despite it's messy habit of dropping branches everywhere. The beauty of the leaves and the flowers always makes up for the mess. I also love the juxtaposition between soft flowers on the Chinese dogwood and what appears to be prickly-pear cactus in the last photo. Well done!

  10. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 02/02/2018

    Good morning, Dale. So nice to see your garden again. You always have me googling several times while reading your posts which I appreciate. Your ‘Girard’s Nana’ is a beautiful tree. We’ve planted
    ‘Wolf Eyes’ and another that escapes me but in our area there is a nasty fungus attacking dogwoods so fingers crossed on those trees. Your mention of Japanese beetles makes me happy to no longer be gardening in the Midwest. Hope they never make it to the west coast. Love that ‘Spotty Dotty’ . Thanks for sharing and have a good weekend everyone.

  11. [email protected] 02/02/2018

    Just added "Girard's Nana" to the plant lust list...

  12. [email protected] 02/02/2018

    How do I get my name back on my posts? Don't like being a number...

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/02/2018

      When you are logged in, your user number should be at the top of the screen, to the right. If you click on that user number, it gives you the option to update your profile, including editing your screen name.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 02/02/2018

        Hi, Tim. I actually challenged myself to go to my profile page and see if I could resurrect my picture. I was successful in getting the picture to show up there but when I click submit comment, I'll see if it carried through here.

        1. User avater
          PKKing 02/03/2018

          I too was not able to get the picture to "stick". But at least I got my screen name changed. I wonder if this new platform will notify us when someone comments on one of our posts?

          1. user-7003263 02/03/2018

            I no longer receive notifications when postings have been made; so I think this is one of the many new restrictions we will have to live with if we continue to chose to follow Fine Gardening. Disappointing. But it is a new platform; maybe they can improve on this.

      2. user-7003263 02/03/2018

        Tim, some of us have created a facebook group called 'Shared Garden Visions' to augment what Fine Gardening is doing. We invite you to check it out (work still in progress as we are gardeners, not techies). If you are interested, please send me a friend request on FaceBook.

        1. user-7003263 02/03/2018

          Forgot to tell you what my name was. Sonya Peel

    2. user-7003263 02/03/2018

      A lot of us don't.

  13. user-7003263 02/03/2018

    Dale, your garden is awesome. Wish I was half as talented as you are when it comes to putting together a beautiful garden. Loved every single one of your posting and could not pick one over the other that I preferred. Thank you for sharing.

    1. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      Glad you enjoyed the postings. Sharing is a big part of the fun of gardening.

  14. janeeliz 02/04/2018

    Wonderful plants, Dale! That tulip tree is a beaut, as is the dwarf Kousa, which I've never seen before.. I love your Spotty Dotty. Is it really hardy in zone 5? What conditions is your plant growing in? It looks very happy.

    1. User avater
      user-7007816 02/05/2018

      The Spotty Dotty is in a relatively new area which gets 3-4 hours of noon-day sun. The soil is heavily enriched with organic compost.

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