Regional Picks: Plant This With That – Northeast

Fine Gardening - Issue 152



Golden Spirit™ smoke bush

Name: Cotinus coggygria ‘Ancot’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 8 to 15 feet tall and wide

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

True to its name, Golden Spirit is a sparkler of a shrub, perfect as the centerpiece for a dynamic combo. Unlike most smoke bushes, this one features translucent leaves that catch sunlight in gradations from lemony yellow to chartreuse. Whereas brassier golds fight with neighboring colors, the hue of the leaves of Golden Spirit plays well with almost anything. As with other smoke bushes, Golden Spirit can be pollarded in late winter for a dramatic flush of new leaves come spring, or it can be pruned more sparingly and left to bloom in a cloud of smoky flowers.



‘Northwind’ switchgrass

Name: Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; fertile, well-drained soil

‘Northwind’ switchgrass offers a statuesque vertical form, long blades of powder blue to green, and contrasting white panicles of flowers that peak in late summer. With form and color both striking and subtle, this is the plant that takes any combo from so-so to sophisti­cated. If that weren’t enough, ‘Northwind’ is as tough as old boots.


Gallo® Peach blanket flower

Name: Gaillardia aristata ‘Kiegalpea’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 10 to 12 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to light shade; average to dry, well-drained soil

The flowers of Gallo® Peach blanket flower range from gold to peachy orange to near red at the center, but these hot colors are tempered by sea-foam green foliage and puffy spent flower heads, resulting in a soft texture overall. It blooms almost continuously through the growing season and more so if spent flowers get a quick shearing.


Pacific chrysanthemum

Name: Ajania pacifica

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; average to dry, well-drained soil

Pacific chrysanthemum is a small wonder of tidy symmetry, a half-sphere of stems orbited by tightly packed silver leaves. Give it sun and well-drained soil and this plant beats the pants off any dusty miller (Senecio cineraria and cvs., annual). A foliage plant first and foremost, its flower is a final bow: a galaxy of gold buttons that are often the last flowers to appear before frost.

Andrew Keys is the author of Why Grow That When You Can Grow This? He gardens north of Boston, Massachusetts.

Photos: Michelle Gervais; courtesy of Andrew Keys; and Illustration: Elara Tanguy, colorized by Bill Godfrey.
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