Regional Picks: Great Plants for the Front Yard – Southeast

Fine Gardening - Issue 139

‘Bright Eyes’ garden phlox

Name: Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8

Size: Up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; moist, well-drained soil

‘Bright Eyes’ garden phlox can blend in with other perennials, but it can also stand out in front-yard gardens with its tall conical heads of dark-centered, pinky rose flowers. In full sun, its dark foliage does not suffer from powdery mildew. Butterflies, bees, and birds are attracted to the fragrant flowers, which are sterile and will not set seed. Phlox flowers best with even amounts of water during the growing season.

‘Snow Flurry’ camellia

Name: Camellia ‘Snow Flurry’

Zones: 6 to 10

Size: 7 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, acidic, well-drained soil

For Southerners whose hardiness zone is colder than typical southern zones due to altitude or geography, the ability to grow a winter-hardy camellia is an absolute delight. ‘Snow Flurry’ camellia is an attractive evergreen shrub that grows in an arching fashion, making it attractive not only in spreading form but also when trained as an espalier against a wall or fence. White flowers in early winter months add interest and offer an unexpected welcome in entryway gardens.


‘Golden Glory’ Cornelian cherry

Name: Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 15 to 20 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Low maintenance and suitable in size for small landscape designs, ‘Golden Glory’ Cornelian cherry offers early spring flowers unlike those of the true flowering dogwood known throughout eastern forests and landscapes. The masses of tiny yellow flowers are harbingers of spring alongside early daffodils. This deciduous tree also develops deep red berries in late summer, attracting birds and squirrels. Fall foliage is a muted yellow.

‘Annabelle’ smooth hydrangea

Name: Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; medium, well-drained soil

What southern garden is complete without at least one hydrangea? ‘Annabelle’ is well known and easy to find, but it never gets old. Its large, globe-shaped flowers bloom from June to September and are showiest in full sun. A medium supply of water helps establish good roots and supports flowering. This smooth hydrangea can be pruned to the ground in fall and will bloom on new growth the following year; pruning severely every year, however, is not necessary and may prevent larger, stronger stems from developing.

Clara A. Curtis is the director for design and exhibit assets at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, North Carolina.

Photos: courtesy of Clara A. Curtis; Bill Johnson; Susan A. Roth; Jennifer Benner; Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

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