Arkansas blue star
(Amsonia hubrichtii): Full sun to part shade, 3 feet wide and
tall. Herbaceous perennial.
Why we dig it: Despite its common name, Arkansas blue star is a
stalwart perennial native to North America. Sturdy yet graceful
stems are cloaked in willow-like foliage. In late spring, it
sports clusters of pale blue star-shaped flowers. It blooms
around the same time as irises, and the plants look so pretty
together — especially if the iris flowers are peach or pale
yellow. It really shines in the fall, turning clear yellow for a
second season of interest in the garden.
Here’s the dirt: After a couple of years, Amsonia hubrichtii
assumes shrub-like proportions. It is well suited to the middle
or rear of the border. It is effective used en masse, but a
single specimen will add nice foliage interest to any border.
Cut stems exude a milky sap which can be a skin irritant, so
wear gloves when pruning. Apparently deer don’t like the sap
either, making it a good choice if they are frequent visitors.
'Sun Sugar' cherry tomato:
Full sun, annual. Botanically, tomatoes are fruits. Legally they
Why we dig it: ‘Sun Sugar’ produces loads of delicious fruits,
starting at a relatively early 62 days, and lasting into the
fall. It is a high-yield plant whose fruits crack less than
other cherry tomato varieties.
Here’s the dirt: ‘Sun Sugar’ is an indeterminate tomato, meaning
the vine will produce fruits over the entire growing season. The
vines get quite long and require support. If space is a
limitation, or if you’re not likely to stake your tomatoes, look
for determinate varieties, which require less support and have a
fixed, often earlier, harvest time. Tomato vines, especially the
indeterminate type, perform best if they are pruned to direct
the plant’s energy into fruit production. In the spring, Penn
State Master Gardeners will cover pruning techniques in this
Flowers in 2013
Outstanding Garden Plants of 2012