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No TLC Needed for These Out-of-the-Ordinary Plants

by Steve Jones, The Plant Man

Coreopsis 'Heaven's Gate'
Coreopsis 'Heaven's Gate' can add pizzazz to your garden. Photo courtesy of

Instead of the "same old same old," how about putting some pizzazz in your landscape this spring with some plants that are a little out of the ordinary!

Coreopsis 'Heavenís Gate'

Whoever named this Coreopsis was definitely inspired, perhaps with visions of this particular plant welcoming new arrivals at the Pearly Gates. Unlike its more common yellow cousins, this one is pink. In fact, Heavenís Gate is a sort of two-tone pink with a deep ruby center changing to a more delicate pink towards the tip of each petal.

It might look delicate, but 'Heavenís Gate' is easy to grow and doesnít need a lot of TLC. Blooming from spring to fall, and best suited to Zones 5 to 8, it prefers a sunny spot in your garden and will grow to around 12 to 24 inches at maturity. Itís a showy, compact perennial that could put a little breath of heaven close to home.

Sweet Dreams Coreopsis
Coreopsis 'Sweet Dreams' is a great coreopsis choice. Photo courtesy of

Coreopsis rosea 'Sweet Dreams'

As I started writing about 'Heavenís Gate,' I was reminded of another Coreopsis that is both spectacular and easy to care for. With Sweet Dreams youíll find blooms with deep raspberry centers bleeding out to pure white tips that really seem to glow against the tapered, dark green foliage.

They bloom pretty much from late spring until the first frost. Growing to about 18 inches tall, they also spread nicely to about 18 inches wide, making them a good addition to a sunny bank as well as the more traditional flower bed. An added benefit: they attract butterflies but are deer-resistant.

Domino Coreopsis
Coreopsis grandiflora 'Domino' is a cheery bright yellow. Photo courtesy of

Coreopsis grandiflora 'Domino'

If you prefer the more traditional look of a yellow Coreopsis, take a look at this cheerful little guy whose bright yellow, fringed blooms each have a deep burgundy-red center. They add a splash of sunshine to a flower border all summer long and are perfect for cut flower arrangements.

Achillea 'Summer Berries'

Why settle for one color when you can enjoy several? 'Summer Berries' blooms with a sumptuous mix of fruity colors that range from salmon/apricot to yellow and cherry red to pink/cream to two-tone pink and even more, in clusters of 3 to 5 inch blooms.

Iíve found that a lot of Achillea tend to fade, but the blooms on 'Summer Berries' hang in there, even in summer heat and bright sunshine. This plant can really enhance a border and, once again is easy to care for. A favorite of both bees and butterflies, it makes spectacular flower arrangements, fresh or dried.

Happiest in Zones 3 through 9, it grows to around 2 or 3 feet tall, flowering from June to September.

Achillea 'Paprika'
Achillae 'Paprika' is a great red Achillea that grows to about two to three feet.

Achillea 'Paprika'

If youíd prefer a single color Achillea instead of the rainbow effect of Summer Berries, try the Paprika. As the name suggests the clusters of flowers are bright red and each flower has a distinctive yellow center.

This is one of the Achillea that will fade a bit Ė from bright red to pink Ė as it ages. Itís possible to reduce the fading effect somewhat if you plant them in a spot that has some afternoon shade.

Regular deadheading will keep the blooms coming back. Paprika is a perennial that grows to about 2 or 3 feet at maturity.

Clematis 'Ernest Markham'

This Clematis was named by Rowland Jackman in 1937 to honor 'Ernest Markham' who is credited with being the first to raise this variety. The Jackmans, incidentally, have a long horticultural pedigree themselves, having operated the family nursery in England since 1810. Speaking of pedigrees, this Clematis received the Royal Horticultural Societyís Award of Garden Merit.

I particularly like the large, rich red flowers with their creamy-brown stamens. It does well in just about any average, well-drained garden soil, but really thrives in loamy, pH neutral soil. This is a fast-growing deciduous vine than can quickly grow as high as 20 feet.

Isnít it nice to know that many uncommon plants are still very easy to care for?

Editor's Note: Steve Jones is The Plant Man. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to or visit


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