Market features great garden performers

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Whether you’re reworking existing garden beds or beginning new ones, you need great performers –

Whether you’re reworking existing garden beds or beginning new ones, you need great performers – those perennials that bloom reliably each year and are, for the most part, trouble-free.

Lots of these garden stalwarts will be available for sale at the Garden Marketplace, part of the Western Pennsylvania Garden and Landscape Symposium, on April 29 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Fox Chapel.

Gardeners will find a broad selection of plants from Penn State Master Gardeners as well as annuals, trees, shrubs and garden-related products offered by local nurseries and vendors at Shadyside Academy’s Roy McKnight Hockey Center, 423 Fox Chapel Road, 15238. Admission and parking for the marketplace are free, and ample parking is available in an adjacent lot.

Here’s a sampling of great performers chosen by Penn State Master Gardeners:

• Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a long-lived, drought-tolerant plant native to the sunny prairies. Clusters of small vibrant orange flowers bloom in spring and, with deadheading, continue to bloom for about six weeks. They’re deer-resistant and rich in nectar and pollen, attracting hummingbirds, Monarch butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. 2-3 feet tall by 2 feet wide.

• ‘Sea Heart’ Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) is an improvement over the popular ‘Jack Frost’ with superior heat and humidity tolerance. Its large, heart-shaped leaves are frosted with silver and have prominent green veins. Sprays of bright blue, forget-me-not flowers bloom in spring on plants that are 12 inches high by 2 feet wide. At home in dry shade, woodland gardens, alongside pond edges or in containers.

• ‘Firewitch’ cheddar pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) boasts mats of silver blue evergreen foliage and a profusion of single, magenta flowers that bloom from spring into early summer and are deer-resistant once established. The flowers have a spicy clove fragrance and attract butterflies. 6-12 inches high and wide and can be planted in containers, rock gardens or the edges of a perennial border. Shear for a fall re-bloom. 

• ‘Phenomenal’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia) does not suffer winter dieback, is extremely tolerant of heat and humidity and is resistant to common root and foliar diseases. In July and August, slender, arching stems bear a profusion of fragrant blue-purple flowers that are attractive to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. ‘Phenomenal’ requires a sunny location and soil with excellent drainage. Mass plants for impact, hedge or use in borders or containers; they make excellent cut flowers. 2-3 feet high by 3 feet wide and deer-resistant. 

• ‘David’ phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a free-flowering, sun-loving perennial, the best white and most mildew-resistant garden phlox. Blooms have an enticing vanilla clove fragrance. Plants mature to 3-4 feet in height with a 2-foot spread.

• Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) Five varieties whose colorful foliage paints the shade garden in red, chartreuse and black.

• Succulents  — groundcover sedums, ice plants (Delosperma spp.) and hens and chicks (Sempervivum spp.) are perfect for the waterwise gardener. Requiring excellent drainage, they thrive in sunny rock gardens, troughs, wall crevices, dry edges or on slopes.

Also featured at this year’s Garden Marketplace is the 2017 annual Daffodil Show from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The show is organized by the Daffodil and Hosta Society of Western Pennsylvania and judges will award up to 50 national and local ribbons.

The Western Pennsylvania Garden and Landscape Symposium brings nationally known speakers with cutting-edge ideas on gardening. The cost of the symposium, which includes lunch, is $120. For more information or to register, call 412-263-1000.

Elise Ford is a Penn State Master Gardener. This volunteer program supports the outreach mission of Penn State Extension and provides research-based information to the public on best practices in sustainable horticulture and environmental stewardship. For more information contact the Penn State Extension of Allegheny County at or by phone at 412-482-3476.

Market features great garden performers

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