Asters

on Sunday, 03 October 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial

Aster Raydons Favorite smFall is Aster season and here at Shooting Star Nursery we love these bright, cheery perennials!

As a group, Asters (which have now mostly been categorized as the genus Symphyotrichon, for all you plant nerds out there) are sturdy, long-lived, and unfussy about soil type - they even tolerate clay soils well.

Planting Asters is also a great way to extend the flowering season in your perennial garden. They generally come into bloom in mid to late summer – just as most perennials are finishing up their flowering season – and continue blooming right up until frost.

Aster cropOne of the things Asters are best known for, though, is their ability to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Their simple, daisy-like flowers provide a great platform for butterflies to land on while they nectar from the plants. In fact, if you’d really like to roll out the red carpet for butterflies, consider planting both Asters and Erigerons. Erigerons begin blooming in early spring and continue flowering into summer, at which point Asters come into bloom.

Most of the Asters we carry here at Shooting Star Nursery fall into two groups: dwarf Asters that about 12-18” tall (October Skies, Purple Dome, Wood’s Pink, Wood’s Purple) and standard Asters that get between 2-3’ tall (Avondale, Moench, Raydon’s Favorite). Snow Flurry is a prostrate Aster that only gets 4-6” tall, and our native Douglas Aster can range in height from 1-3’ tall.

Aster and Solidago cropAsters prefer average water, and will do well in full sun to part shade, depending upon variety. For a great show of fall color, consider planting them with a mix of goldenrods and ornamental grasses. We like to leave their dried flower stalks standing throughout the winter months (their seeds are really popular with wintering songbirds), and cut plants back in early spring as new growth begins to emerge.

Salvia 'Autumn Sapphire'

on Monday, 27 September 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Autumn Sapphire Sage

Autumn Sapphire Salvia tightcropSalvia 'Autumn Sapphire' is another wonderful perennial introduction by one of our favorite garden writers - Lauren Springer Odgen - and the Denver Botanic Garden. This cultivar of a West Texas native Salvia comes into bloom in late summer, when a lot of other flowering perennials are starting to slow down, and continues blooming right up until frost. That trait makes it exceptionally valuable to late-season pollinators (native bees, hummingbirds, honey bees, butterflies, etc.) and other beneficial insects.

As it name suggests, Autumn Sapphire’s flowers are a rich cobalt blue; complemented by narrow, finely-textured green leaves. Plants grow to 18" to 20" tall and wide, and are hardy down to zone 5. Like most other Salvias, they are also deer resistant and do best when planted in well-drained soils that are low in fertility (too much fertilizer and water will make them floppy). For best results, leave the stems up over the winter to make sure it survives the winter wet, and then prune back in spring when new leaves begin to emerge.

'Autumn Sapphire' performs best in well-drained soil in full, hot sun. Looking for some good companion plants? Consider pairing it with Solidago “Fireworks’, Rudbeckia, Helianthus 'Lemon Queen', Echinacea, or Gaura - or create a mixed planting of 'Autumn Sapphire' and native prairie grasses like Bouteloua, Andropogon, and Schizachyrium.

Ginkgo biloba

on Monday, 20 September 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees

Maidenhair Tree

Autumn goldWhen most people think of fall color, their minds immediately go to the bright scarlets of maples and oaks. But we’re guessing that’s probably just because they’ve never seen a Ginkgo tree in its full fall color.

Ginkgos – or Maidenhair Trees - turn a rich, buttery gold in fall. They’re especially stunning when planted against a backdrop of dark green conifers. When the leaves finally do drop, they tend to do so all at once, forming a brilliant golden carpet around the base of the tree. They’re also tolerant of air pollution and a wide variety of soil types; making them valuable as a tough, long-lived street tree that works well in both urban or rural situations.

Big ginkgoThey’re also one of the oldest tree species in the world. Ginkgo leaves have been found in fossils that date back to over 250 million years ago, which means they were around when dinosaurs still walked the earth!

Ginkgos tend to be a long-lived, low-maintenance tree. They like at least a half-day sun, but will do fine in full sun as well. Once established. Trees do fine with deep, infrequent watering. Young trees tend to be slow growing, but once established they can put on 1-2’/year

We regularly carry the following varieties of Ginkgo here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Autumn Gold – Broadly pyramidal, 45’ by 35’. Angular, linear branches

Golden Colonnade – 45’x 25’, narrow, oval shape

Princeton Sentry – The most tightly columnar of the group – 40’ x 15’. Stiffly upright, narrow, pyramidal shape

The President - A big, glorious tree - 50' tall by 40' wide; broadly pyramidal to oval in shape.

Anemone hupehensis var. japonica (x hybrida)

on Monday, 13 September 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Shade Plants, Perennial, Flowering Plants

Japanese Anemone

Honorine JobertOne of the standout flowering perennials of fall, Japanese Anemone is a refreshing addition to a part shade garden. They begin flowering when most of our summer-blooming perennials are starting to fade – usually in mid-September - and will bloom continually until frost.

Japanese Anemones are truly elegant plants; rising gracefully above shorter perennials. They tend to look best in the middle or back of a border. Most varieties are 2-4' tall and will spread to at least 2-3' wide. We love to pair them with ferns - especially the bronzy Autumn Fern, with dark-leafed varieties of Heuchera like ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Palace Purple’, and with Hostas and Astilbes.

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries the following varieties of Japanese Anemones:

 

 Wild Swans2 edWild Swan – Wild Swan is the smallest of this group – just 1-2’ tall and wide – but it makes up for its lack of height with huge 3” flowers that feature white petals with a lovely purple reverse. These plants have a longer bloom season than most anemones, beginning in mid-summer and extending until frost. Wild Swan was the 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year.

 

 September CharmSeptember Charm – September Charm has masses of soft pink, slightly cupped flowers on plants that reach 2-3” tall by about 2’ wide. Like most Anemones, September Charm makes a great cut flower; extending your fresh floral bouquets well into the fall! This Anemone was given an Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

 Honorine Jobert – Honorine Jobert was the 2016 Perennial Plant of the year, and it’s easy to see why! These stately beauties grow up to 4’ tall and feature snowy white flowers with golden centers (see photo at top of the article).

Anemones do best with morning sun or dappled light, and love soil with lots of organic material incorporated into it. They only seem to need a deep soak once a week or so, but can also tolerate regular watering and clay soils. Unlike many taller shade plants, Anemones require no staking and just need to be pruned back after the flowers have faded. They’re quite popular with pollinators – lots of our Anemone photos end up featuring a wide variety of honeybees and native bees! 

Solidagos and Solidasters

on Sunday, 12 September 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant

Goldenrods

Fall Colors editHow can you not love Goldenrods? They provide glorious splashes of sunny yellow in the fall garden that make me smile every time I see them.

There are around 150 species of Goldenrod worldwide – most of them native to North America. These sturdy members of the Asteraceae have a lot to offer in the garden.

They’re easy to grow; are popular with a wide variety of pollinators - especially butterflies and tiny native bees; are deer resistant; and combine beautifully with native grasses like Andropogon and Schizachyrium and other fall-blooming perennials to provide a blaze of color in the fall garden. We generally carry three varieties here at Shooting Star Nursery.

 

Solidago FireworksSolidago ‘Fireworks’ (right): A truly striking variety, with dense plume-like flowerheads of bright golden flowers that really do look like exploding fireworks! Solidago ‘Fireworks’ gets about 3-4’ tall by 2-3’ wide, prefers average water, and also tolerates clay soils.

 

Solidago Little Lemon editSolidago ‘Little Lemon’ (left): ‘Little Lemon’ is a great choice for gardeners who love the look of Goldenrods, but don’t have the room for a full-sized plant. Plants get about 12” tall by 12-18” wide, and the stalks of lemon-yellow flowers make a lovely choice as a cut flower.

 

Solidaster edit smSolidaster ‘Lemore’ (right): As the name suggests, Solidaster is a cross between a Solidago and an Aster. ‘Lemore’ has all the great attributes of Solidagos, but has slightly larger pale yellow flowers and is also relatively drought tolerant. Plants get to be about 2-2.5’ tall and wide.