Multi-Season Plants for Northeast Gardens

Discover plants that shine in northeastern gardens almost year-round with Andrew Keys, author of Growing the Northeast Garden.

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Photo By: Courtesy of Walters Gardens

BrazelBerries ‘Jelly Bean’ Blueberry (Vaccinium ‘Jelly Bean’)

Meet a blueberry bush that can easily pull double duty in the landscape as a hedge or walkway plant. Berries ripen in midsummer and offer an intensely sweet flavor similar to blueberry jelly. Leaves feature traditional blueberry coloring with red tints developing through summer into fall. Plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall and adapt easily to containers.

Growing the Northeast Garden

Growing the Northeast Garden, by Andrew Keys, with photography by Kerry Michaels, features the best shrubs, trees, perennials, vines, grasses and bulbs for the northeastern U.S. Gardening techniques in the book are based on the region's climate and soils.

‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’)

Need a grass for wet soil? Check out ‘Karl Foerster’. This feather reed grass forms tight clumps 12 to 18 inches wide with leaves 3 to 5 feet tall. Seedheads emerge in early summer and take the plant height to 6 feet. Flower plumes start purple-green and ripen to gold in autumn. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

'Moonlight' Climbing Hydrangea

'Moonlight' (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) is a climbing hydrangea with silvery, bluish-green leaves that turn yellow in fall. In summer, clusters of creamy white flowers open. Reddish-brown stems add interest in winter.

Bluestar (Amsonia species)

Bluestar flowers (Amsonia species) sparkle in sun and even some shade. This Northeast native, which blooms from late spring into early summer, turns a handsome gold in autumn.

Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum)

In fall, the Paperbark Maple drops its orange and red leaves to reveal peeling, copper-orange to cinnamon-colored bark. Its small spring flowers develop into interesting samaras, which are one-seeded, winged fruits.

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides)

From late summer to early fall, Seven Son Flower, which grows into a small tree or large shrub, is covered with white flowers. Later in the fall, small fruits appear, ringed by cherry-red, petallike leaves. Even after the flowers and foliage fade, the brown, exfoliating bark adds winter interest.

'Sun King' Aralia (Aralia cordata)

'Sun King' aralia needs afternoon shade, says author Andrew Keys. Its huge leaves, which can grow to 3 feet long, may be chartreuse to lime-green or greenish-yellow, depending on how much sun it gets. The foliage stands out beautifully against the plant's reddish-brown stems. In late summer, racemes of white flowers are followed by purplish-black, inedible berries.

'Blue Shadow' Fothergilla

Honey-scented spikes of white flowers open on fothergilla in spring, backed by powder-blue leaves. By fall, this 3 to 5-foot shrub turns bright gold, yellow and orange. It's also sold as 'Blue Shadow' Witch Alder.

'Misty Blue' Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)

Northeastern gardeners shouldn't miss this woodland native perennial. 'Misty Blue' opens small, white flowers above soft blue-green foliage from spring into summer. Showy panicles of white fruits, carried on red stalks, last up to 6 weeks in fall.

Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

Golden rain trees have pinkish to purplish-bronze spring leaves that become green in summer and yellow in fall. Bright yellow flowers hang in long panicles, followed by papery seed capsules that resemble small Chinese lanterns.

'Ascot Rainbow' Cushion Spurge

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' needs good drainage, says Andrew Keys, author of Growing the Northeast Garden. The plants grow 18 to 20" high, with cream and greenish-blue leaves that takes on reddish-pink tints when the weather cools. Its flowers are lime, green and cream-colored.

Alaska Cedar

Alaska cedar 'Pendula' (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) is sometimes called Weeping Alaskan cedar. While it can reach 90' tall in its natural habitat, it usually tops out around 50' high when planted as an ornamental. Use it as a focal point for its eye-catching, blue-green or gray-green, scaling foliage.