The WOW factor in gardening

What is the WOW factor in gardening, and how do you achieve it?   I call the WOW factor a feature that literally makes me stop in my tracks (or my car)  to admire a plant or group of plants, then dash for my camera.  Wow factors are achieved by choosing what I call a specimen plant (unique or different, and planted singly) as opposed to a common plant (one that everyone else has in their garden, planted in multiple spots throughout the garden)  Choose a plant hardy to your garden zone and give it the conditions and space it requires to achieve greatness.  It may take a few years after planting, but patience will reward you!

I have seen two of these WOW factors recently, one driving from a client’s garden and the second in a client’s garden…

joe pye weed

I had to stop my car and take a picture of this first one on my way home one day.  Although it is called Joe Pye weed, it is a spectacular perennial garden plant and not a weed in my opinion.  It measures approximately 7 feet in height here, but can get to 12 feet in ideal conditions and looks best as featured here, in a large clump at the back of a border.  Joe Pye weed likes moist soil of average to rich conditions.  It will tolerate wet soil, but not overly dry soil.  It is hardy in zones 4 through 9 and prefers full sun to part shade.  Joe Pye weed will attract butterflies to your garden too.  Joe Pye weed requires very little maintenance.  It dies to the ground in the late fall and can be divided in the spring if the clump gets too large.  Be sure to give it lots of space in your garden!

This second WOW moment happened this week in a client’s garden.  This ornamental fountain grass peaks this time of year, producing large bottlebrush like pinkish plumes that glisten early in the morning when still coated with dew or after a rain…

I have one of these grasses in my own garden, (third picture) but it is no way near the size of the one I planted in this client’s garden.  Although I thought I gave it plenty of room to spread out when planted three years ago, it is crowding a magnolia tree on the left and a shrub rose on the right, both of which can be pruned to accommodate the grass.  This plant is a fountain grass, preferring hot dry sunny locations, hardy from zones 4 through 9.  It should be cut down to the ground after the ground freezes or first thing in the spring before new growth appears.

Create your own WOW factor in your garden and send me some pictures!