Loma Vista Nursery News

Toying With Plants

With Grandparents’ Day coming up on Sunday, Sept. 10 we’re taking a look at ideal plants for children’s gardens. Whether an urban park or a suburban back yard, children’s gardens encourage a love of plants, play and learning. Here are a few of our favorites to consider when designing professional landscapes that cater to children.

Fire ChiefGlobe Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Congabe’)

Fire Chief Arborvitae

Who doesn’t love a bright red fire engine – and fantastic red color! This globe-shaped shrub has shiny gold foliage in spring, followed by its namesake show in fall. It grows slowly and is low maintenance. Plant Fire Chief Arborvitae en masse, as the centerpiece of a children’s circle garden or showcase it as a specimen shrub in a privacy border. Fire Chief Arborvitae’s vibrant color and finely textured, soft foliage makes it ideal in a sensory garden.

This evergreen shrub does not like dry conditions, but thrives in soil that is evenly moist and well drained. No pruning is necessary to maintain its rounded form. Fire Chief Arborvitae is 4 feet tall and wide at maturity. Plant it with hydrangeas, lilacs and Russian sage. It requires full sun and performs best in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.

Lavender ‘SuperBlue’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘SuperBlue’)

Lavender ‘SuperBlue’

In addition to its bright color, extremely fragrant Lavender ‘SuperBlue’ (English Lavender) encourages a happy mood, calms the nervous system and adds pretty, purple-blue hues to island perennial beds, children’s cottage gardens and playhouse containers and window boxes. Lavender attracts butterflies and pollinators to delight children and fill them with wonder about our natural world. 

Vibrant flowers bloom in summer. Low maintenance, lavender tolerates bunnies and deer, as well as drought, dry soil and air pollution. While it lacks tolerance for winter stresses and high humidity, it prefers well-drained soil and is versatile in small spaces or in mass plantings. Lavender ‘SuperBlue’ requires full sun. It has a mature height and width of about 1 foot. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8.

Flutterby®  Pink Butterfly Bush (Buddleia hybrid)

Flutterby® Pink Butterfly Bush

Pretty in pink! These bright blooms dress up children’s gardens with playtime fun, whimsey and fragrance. Called “Summer Lilac” because its flowers are reminiscent of the early spring-time favorite, Flutterby Pink Butterfly Bush blooms from early summer straight through fall. Its leaves are fuzzy and narrow. A favorite of butterflies, plant this shrub in large urns at the entrance or exit of a park or public play area, or near benches and picnic tables where the scent can be enjoyed. 

With an upright growth habit and relatively low maintenance, Flutterby Pink Butterfly Bush isn’t fussy about soil types, dry or moist locations or environmental salt. It tolerates urban pollution and thrives in inner-city environments. Give it some room though, as this fast-growing shrub will reach 5 feet tall and wide at maturity. Place it in full sun, in USDA Hardiness Zone 4.

Purrsian Blue Catmint (Nepeta ‘Purrsian Blue’)

Purrsian Blue Catmint

Cat’s in the garden! Purrsian Blue Catmint purrs along all summer and into fall. Clusters of bright lavender-blue flowers and fragrant gray-green foliage attract butterflies and other pollinators. This herbaceous perennial sparkles in sunny borders and garden beds and is an attractive groundcover. It plays nice with lavender, salvia and yarrow.

Purrsian Blue Catmint is easy-care, waterwise and fast growing. It reaches up to 18 inches tall and 30 inches wide at maturity. Encourage repeat blooms by pruning spent flowers and keep the plant tidy by cutting it back in spring before new growth emerges. Plant it in well-drained soil, in full sun and in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8.

Chocolate Chip Ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’)

Chocolate Chip Ajuga

How fun is this?! Chocolate Chip Ajuga is a spreading perennial ground cover with rich, chocolatey brown foliage that has dark, minty-green undertones. Spikes of lacy-blue flowers rise above tightly matted foliage in spring. This ajuga sometimes re-blooms in summer depending on the climate. It is a sweet, low-growing accent of color in beds alongside play sets, between stepping stones and in containers and window boxes. 

Chocolate Chip Ajuga’s dense foliage rises to about 3 inches tall at maturity and slowly spreads to about 36 inches wide. It likes moderately moist, organically rich soil. Apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer in late summer and water regularly until root systems are established. This brand of ‘chocolate chip’ won’t melt in full or partial sun. Plant it in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

Treeform Panicle Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ – Treeform)

Phantom Panicle Hydrangea Tree

Now this is a tree kids can really look up to! Enormous, crisp-white double flower heads reach for the sun on the tippy-top of their branches. A graceful cascade of emerald green foliage flows beneath the panicles, where a sturdy trunk supports the tree’s vase-like habit. Blooms begin in August and transition from white to pink and then red as the season progresses into fall. Plant this as a specimen tree in perennial beds and borders where children can see it as they play. It will also do well in larger containers.

Phantom Panicle Hydrangea Tree is best planted in early fall or in late spring after the danger of frost has passed. Deciduous, it thrives in rich, porous, moist soil, as well as in full sun for most of the day. A bit of afternoon shade also is ideal. Add a thick layer of mulch over the root system to keep it moist and cool. Provide deep moisture in the mornings three times a week to encourage root growth. Prune it back hard in early spring. This tree will reach up to 15 feet tall and wide at maturity. It performs best in USDA Hardiness Zone 3.

Learn About the Loma Vista Nursery Family and Our Landscape Plants

Visit our plant catalog for information about our perennial plants, shrubs and trees – all ideal for Midwest landscapes. Loma Vista Nursery’s staff members are experts in the field. We love helping people learn and understand more about plants. To get answers to plant-related questions, send an email to sales@lomavistanursery.com or call (785) 229-7200.

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