Express Yourself at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

Special to The Voice-Tribune

To many, one of the great pleasures of homeownership is the chance to express yourself through the plants you choose to plant in your own garden. But to those who grew up in a brown-thumb home, the prospect of picking plants for your new home’s landscape can be about as daunting as doing your own neurosurgery.

Fortunately, at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens, we’re here to help. Whether you are a bona-fide garden geek or a member of the brown-thumb hall of fame, Yew Dell’s annual Plant Sale and Garden Market (April 28 and 29; www.yewdellgardens.org) offers hundreds of plant choices, all staff-tested and recommended for local gardens.
Here’s a few…

Yellow-flowered Magnolias

Most folks know the pink/white ones, locally known as tulip magnolias. Well there are glorious yellows out there as well. Growing to 30 to 45 feet tall, these delightful trees offer bright summer shade, adaptability to a wide range of soils and light up the spring garden with their fragrant lemon-yellow blooms.

New Dogwoods: Like dogwoods? How about Venus, a new hybrid with white blooms that can reach 7 inch in diameter! And if something more extravagant is your style, how about ‘Celestial Shadow’s new variegated form – each leaf a mixture of green and yellow – a color show that lasts all summer! Both selections like rich, moist soil and full sun or partial shade.

New Redbuds

The list of new selections has exploded in recent years. The new lineup includes yellow-leafed forms, burgundy-leafed selections, weepers, dwarfs, variegated leaves and even some with bright fuchsia flowers. Give any of the redbuds full sun, well-drained soil and a bit of water through the dry months and you’ll soon have all the garden clubs clamoring for your membership!

What’s a barrenwart and why would I want one in my garden? Known botanically as Epimediums, the list includes scores of species and varieties and we’ve never found a dud in the group! Mostly herbaceous groundcovers for the shade garden, Epimediums spread slowly, most topping out at 6 18 inches tall with delicate spring leaves and airy flowers from white to yellow, orange, red and lavender. Once established, they can handle a fairly dry spot but always do a bit better with some kind irrigation through the driest part of the year.


Many home gardeners know the frustration of the never-blooming hydrangea, but there is a long list of beautiful and reliable garden selections. Start out with ‘Little Honey’ the dwarf, yellow-leafed oakleaf hydrangea that glows in the garden all summer long. Invincibelle Spirit, a pink-flowered selection of a Kentucky native, is a reliably-blooming pink selection new to the market. For a fun garden flourish, try ‘Ryan Gainey’ a 3 to 4 feet mounted plant with ruffled double white flowers – a great selection for the evening garden. And to top it off, why not try ‘Miranda’ a gold-edge-leafed climbing hydrangea that loves to ramble over rock walls and climb fences and garages. Give all these hydrangeas a little afternoon shade, a touch of compost mixed into the planting hole and even moisture through the summer and they’ll make your brown thumb sprout green!