Regional Picks: Summer Standouts – Midwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 140

1. ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye Weed


Name: Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 11

Size: 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist soil

By midsummer, the mottled, dark purple stems of ‘Gateway’ Joe Pye weed are topped with large mauve-pink flowers. And despite persistent steamy conditions, the blooms often remain into early fall. This is a perfect back-of-the-border perennial, particularly if you want a tidy garden because, although it is tall, is doesn’t flop all over the place. Supplemental water may be needed to keep this gorgeous plant at its best during extremely hot summers.


2. ‘Georgia Peach’ Heuchera


Name: Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 12 to 14 inches tall and 2 feet wide

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

Hybridizers have created an almost unimaginable color palette with heu­cheras, and ‘Georgia Peach’ is one of my favorites. The first new spring leaves emerge peach in color with a striking silver overlay. The foliage deepens to rosy purple in fall and winter. Delicate white flowers arise in early summer from a naturally compact, dome-shaped plant. ‘Georgia Peach’ was bred to tolerate high heat and humidity, but be sure to amend heavy garden soils with coarse organic matter and make sure the site is well-drained, particularly in winter.


3. ‘Charles Johnston’ Daylily 


Name: Hemerocallis ‘Charles Johnston’

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide

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

When I first saw this daylily years ago, it immediately went to the top of my must-have list. In a sea of daylily choices, this is the truest, most vibrant red I’ve seen. ‘Charles Johnston’ has flowers and stems that are especially thick and, therefore, hold up well to rough weather conditions. The abundant flowers are 6 inches in diameter with a beautiful yellow throat. An early to midseason bloomer, this beauty generally starts the show in early July in my upper Midwest garden. If deer are a problem in your area, you’ll need to use repellents or netting.


4. Variegated Moor Grass


Name: Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 18 to 24 inches tall and wide

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

As much as I enjoy nearly all ornamental grasses, if I were allowed only one, variegated moor grass would be it. It’s hard to adequately describe the grace of this plant, with its beautiful striped leaves and wiry yellow flower stems that appear in midsummer. The stems eventually open to reveal slender seed heads, creating a haze around the plant. It is slow to establish, so be patient.


Tony Fulmer is the retail manager at Chalet, a nursery in Wilmette, Illinois.

Photos: courtesy of Tony Fulmer, courtesy of Bluestone Perennials, courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc., Stephanie Fagan, courtesy of Doreen Wynja/Monrovia

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