When Scott Beuerlein interviewed Allan Armitage for Horticulture, naturally the two had to chat about standout plants. (Read the interview here.) Allan shared a handful of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees that he recommends as easy and delightful additions to any garden.
‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’): A three-foot perennial with large, yellow or lime-green compound leaves and a midsummer bloom. Sun or shade. USDA Zones 3–9. Allan called out its “fabulous color all season, even in deep shade.”
‘Evergold’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’): A low-growing ornamental grass with thin yellow-and-green foliage. Part shade. Zones 5–9. Allan noted it as “not new, but bright and indestructible." Plus, he added, "All carex make gardening easier.”
UpTick Series coreopsis (Coreopsis hybrida UpTick cvs.): A series of compact, mounded perennials with large bicolor flowers that appear all summer long. Full sun. Zones 4–9. Allan calls these coreopsis “simply the best of the new—and Gold & Bronze is the best of the series.”
Chardonnay Pearls deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’): A three-foot-round shrub with lime-green foliage and masses of tiny white flowers in spring. Full sun to part shade. Zones 5–8. "The best deutzia ever!”
White Wedding panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘LeeP1’): A compact shrub reaching four to six feet tall, with large, dense, white summer flowers. Full sun to part shade. Zones 4–9. Allan shared that it is “one of the few hydrangeas I haven’t been able to kill.”
Lilies (Lilium cvs.): These hardy summer-blooming bulbs add vertical interest with their tall, slim stems. Color and fragrance abound when the large flowers open. Allan cited ‘Forever Susan’, ‘Little Kiss’ and ‘Satisfaction’ as favorites in his garden.
Japanese maples (Acer palmatum cvs.): There are many small trees to choose from, but Allan pointed to Japanese maples as “a no-brainer architectural feature.” Although his home garden is small, he has planted about a dozen of these trees. A couple of his favorites are ‘Bihou’, which has deep green leaves and beautiful pale bark, and ‘Otaha’.
Begonia ‘Canary Wings’: This is a tough, easy-growing cane-like begonia Allan observed as reminiscent of ‘Dragon Wing’ but with striking golden-green foliage. Its red flowers are just as showy.
Sunfinity sunflower (Helianthus Sunfinity): A three-to-four-foot, multi-stemmed annual sunflower that blooms continuously throughout the summer. Full sun. Allan said, “The annual sunflowers are now well behaved and flower all season. Love them.”
Image credits: ‘Satisfaction’ lily by cultivar413/CC BY 2.0; ‘Bihou’ maple by The Greenery Nursery and Garden Shop/CC BY 2.0; Begonia courtesy of BallSeed; Aralia, sedge and coreopsis courtesy of Walters Gardens; Deutzia courtesy of Proven Winners; Hydrangea courtesy of Southern Living Plants.