Powerhouse Plants

510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty

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powerhouse plants by Graham Rice

There may be a few lucky gardeners who have unlimited space, unlimited time, and unlimited budgets, but I’ve yet to meet one. Most of us have gardens in which every square foot is precious, and we have to do our gardening in whatever spare moments we can snatch from busy lives, and without breaking the bank.

The upshot of these harsh realities is that we can’t afford to fill our gardens with plants that do just one thing for only a brief period (you know who you are). We need plants that work hard for us — that, for example, provide brilliant fall foliage as well as fragrant spring flowers, like witch hazels, or that have three seasons of interest, with frothy flowers, handsome foliage, and brilliant fall fruits, like the best cotoneasters.

These outstanding garden denizens are the subject of Graham Rice’s new book, Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty . A renowned plantsman on both sides of the Atlantic, Graham has carefully assembled a stellar group of trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. You’ll find cottage-garden favorites like columbines and peonies as well as sophisticated choices like umbrellaleaf and Asian hydrangea vine. Some of these plants are inherently multi-seasonal; others are cultivars that have been selected for their colorful foliage, bark, or some other key feature. Do you love forsythia? Then choose the cultivar ‘Kumson’ — you’ll get both brilliant yellow flowers and beautifully variegated foliage that lasts out the summer and fall. Are you a pushover for roses? Plant ‘Wild Thing’, which offers a triple treat of flowers, foliage, and hips.

In short, there’s no need to settle for a garden that looks great in spring or summer but makes you want to yawn during the rest of the year. Add some powerhouse plants, and you’ll be on your way to a garden that delights you in every season.