All Things Gardening forum: What are your favorite "supporting cast" plants?

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 18, 2014 5:47 PM CST
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Many of my favorite plants could never be the "star of the show" in a garden design, but enhance the beauty of neighboring plants and the garden as a whole. I like a full, lush look, and the use of these "shoes and socks" plants really fill out a planting.

Various hardy Geraniums are among my favorites, they happily fill in spaces between other plants and provide great contrast for many prominent forms in the garden, especially plants with sword like foliage.

What are your favorites?
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Dec 18, 2014 9:09 PM CST
Columbines, in various colors, are at the top of my list.
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Salvia is another good one. This is Caradonna and blooms to mid June here. It even looks good in its waning days.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Region: California Plant Database Moderator Roses Irises Clematis Garden Photography
Cottage Gardener Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Birds
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Calif_Sue
Dec 19, 2014 12:55 AM CST

Plants Admin

Note to self, must add more columbine!!

I have a few veronicas too and have been wanting to add more and Neal, I agree, geraniums are a favorite of mine too, this one gives me wonderful volunteers everywhere, sprawling through plants and filling in bare spots.


I also love agastache and plan on adding more.


I also love scattering Golden Feverfew around for it's lovely chartreuse foliage contrast, it's also a great self seeder.


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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 19, 2014 6:19 AM CST
Arlene, I LOVE Columbine too! There are so many sizes, bloom forms, and colors these days, there's a Columbine that combines well with almost anything. Salvias are wonderful too, and I've found Veronicas provide a similar form and function in the garden.
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Sue, Geranium pyrenaicum is a great filler! I've only got the white form, although from time to time I find a pale lavender seedling, but not as colorful as 'Bill Wallis'. I enjoy Feverfew in the garden as well, they make me think of Baby's Breath in a flower arrangement the way they accent and soften other plants.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Dec 19, 2014 9:07 AM CST
I'll have to go through my pictures and see my supporting cast members. They really do need credit. Great thread!
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 19, 2014 4:28 PM CST
Sue, I want to try more Veronicas too. I've tried a few that were just okay, but have stumbled upon some that are real performers. That spike shape is nice with so many other plant forms, and is especially useful in the size range of Veronica.
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Those in the pic were from a box store clearance rack, they had 3 plants per pot, a pink, a white, and a violet. They've also outperformed any pricier selections I've tried through mail order sources.

I do see some in the data base I'd like to try...

"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 19, 2014 4:50 PM CST
I have found Geranium biokovo and G. biokovo 'Karmina' to be the most useful and lovely little plants. They remain attractive most of the year.

Some beauties in the data base have caught my eye. Would love to hear from anyone who has had experience with any of them.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Dec 19, 2014 5:06 PM CST
Dianthus is my favorite supporting plant.

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If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Region: California Plant Database Moderator Roses Irises Clematis Garden Photography
Cottage Gardener Keeper of Poultry Hummingbirder Bee Lover Butterflies Birds
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Calif_Sue
Dec 19, 2014 7:15 PM CST

Plants Admin

I am going to try Geranium 'Orion' this year, it's available from a local grower. I do have another new one I got a year ago, liked it so much I added a couple more.
My gardening Blog!
Hand sewn wares and vintage finds in my Etsy store. Summer Song Cottage
[Last edited by Calif_Sue - Dec 19, 2014 8:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Dec 19, 2014 7:29 PM CST
Such pretty Veronicas, Geraniums, Dianthus and 'Orion'.
Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
Composter Hellebores Garden Art Irises Xeriscape Echinacea
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4susiesjoy
Dec 19, 2014 7:49 PM CST
gemini_sage said:I have found Geranium biokovo and G. biokovo 'Karmina' to be the most useful and lovely little plants. They remain attractive most of the year.

Some beauties in the data base have caught my eye. Would love to hear from anyone who has had experience with any of them.


This geranium is lovely! It forms a mound and gets bigger but doesn't spread as some of the others do. I brought one from Wyoming over 20 years ago and it is still living. It is my favorite of all the larger geraniums I've tried. Obviously I would recommend it.
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Dec 20, 2014 7:57 AM CST
Debra, I love Dianthus and your assortment of them! I particularly like the fragrant varieties, and always wanted to let 'Bath's Pink' grow as a ground cover through the garden, but found them too difficult to keep weeded. I still wanted enough blooming to smell them from a distance, so this is what I devised:
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The bottom of the tub is rusted out, so this was a good use for it. When in bloom they are stunning, but the rest of the year the tub and foliage nicely accent neighboring plants.

"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Dec 20, 2014 8:18 AM CST
Like it. Smiling I tip my hat to you.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
Frogs and Toads Birds Roses Region: United States of America Peonies Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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daylilydreams
Dec 24, 2014 3:43 PM CST
I like some of the penstemons that have reddish foliage like Dark Towers, Husker's Red, Mystica and Pocahontas. They all have softer color blooms but the foliage adds nice color accents to the garden and if you let them go to seed the seed pods are colorful. These are the hardiest penstemons in my northern garden. I like them here and there along a path. I do love those with more colorful booms but they do not love the north. I have not taken pictures just never have enough hours in a day.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
Faith is the postage stamp on our prayers!
Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Dec 24, 2014 4:23 PM CST
I like Dark Towers, Betty. It does better in our heat than other Penstemons I have tried and it mixes well with other plants like Roses and Daylilies.

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If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
gemini_sage
Dec 24, 2014 6:15 PM CST
Oooohhh...Debra, there are those Irises again! And gorgeous with that coral Rose and the Penstemon!

I've found the above family of Penstemon great supporting cast players in the garden too. And a few other varieties, as well- P. smallii is a wonderful short lived perennial for me, and reseeds a little, but needs to be intentionally seeded to keep them going.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Dec 24, 2014 6:37 PM CST
Coral Drift Rose, Neal. Love it. Smiling
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
gemini_sage
Dec 24, 2014 6:40 PM CST
Oh, and Debra, you should check out some of the desert Penstemons, there are several that are quite colorful and good candidates for your zone.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Dec 24, 2014 6:49 PM CST
Okay, thank you. Smiling
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
gemini_sage
Dec 24, 2014 6:54 PM CST
High Country Gardens lists a bunch of them that could give you a good idea of what's out there. The Rocky Mountain Penstemon is a gorgeous blue, with airy spikes of large blooms. It acted like a biennial here, but our winter was rough last year, so I'm thinking that may have killed them.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi

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