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Falls series of trailing heucherellas
Heucherellas — a cross between coral bells (heucheras) and tiarellas — are tough performers for Iowa shade gardens. Now try the first trailing heucherellas: ‘Sunrise Falls’ (top), ‘Redstone Falls’, and ‘Yellowstone Falls’. “They’re perfect additions to combo planters or by themselves in a hanging basket,” says Hogue. “They also spill along the ground as a showy groundcover.” Consider using them in place of the annual sweet potato vine. Photo courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries.

Falls Series
About 7 inches high, 30 inches wide
Sun to shade
Zone 4

Veronica ‘Tidal Pool’
‘Tidal Pool’ veronica, a drought-resistant groundcover, was bred by experts at Chicago Botanic Garden. A dense mat of blue flowers covers the plant in April and May. “It’s the perfect companion for accenting spring bulbs — imagine it with white ‘Thalia’ daffodils,” suggests Hancock. “The slightly fuzzy foliage helps smother weeds the rest of the season.” Plant it in a dry, sunny spot and let it slowly spread. Photo courtesy Jim Ault / Chicago Botanic Garden.

‘Tidal Pool’
2 to 4 inches high, up to 30 inches wide
Full sun
Zone 4

Hardy hibiscus
More types of hardy hibiscus come on the market every year, and Kovarik welcomes them. “This is another one people don’t believe is hardy in our area.” He likes ‘Party Favor’, ‘Cristi’, ‘Sultry Kiss’, and the Summerific series, all with large, 8- to 10-inch-wide flowers. Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries.

Hardy hibiscus
5 feet tall and wide
Full sun to part shade
Zone 4


If you think roses won’t survive Iowa winters, think again. Kovarik is zealous about the Easy Elegance line of shrub roses. They’re tough and beautiful, and many in the collection trick you into thinking they’re hybrid teas. “Honestly, every gardener should have a rose in their garden,” says Kovarik. Try Como Park, with medium red petals, and Champagne Wishes, in antique white. Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries.

Easy Elegance
Full, double, semi-double flower forms.
Full sun
Zones 4 and 5

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