Bringing in Butterflies

The Long Border at Linden Hill

When you’re zipping past Linden Hill Gardens on Route 611 in Ottsville, PA, you’ve undoubtedly noticed our super-sized Long Border. At 300 feet long and over 20 feet wide, it’s hard to miss! We work hard to keep it filled with lots of color for passersby to enjoy, even at 55 miles an hour. It’s not just our version of a floral billboard, though. The Linden Hill Long Border serves another purpose: providing a welcoming habitat for a wide range of beautiful butterflies.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)

Large-scale plantings are excellent for attracting butterflies, but you don’t need a 6,000-square-foot border like ours to welcome these winged beauties. A small bed, or even a collection of containers filled with butterfly favorites, can make your property more enticing.

Silver Spotted Skipper on ‘Black Beauty’ Lily (Lilium)

A sunny spot that’s near a deck, patio, or garden bench, where you can sit and enjoy their comings and goings, is an ideal spot for a butterfly garden.

Black Swallowtail on Compass Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

Adult butterflies have particular plant preferences, based on the flower structure and the composition of the nectar. Fortunately, many popular perennials are as appealing to butterflies as they are to us: coneflowers (Echinacea and Rudbeckia), coreopsis, salvias, scabiosas, phlox, and yarrows for summer, and asters, mums, eupatoriums, and ironweeds (Vernonia) for fall, to name just a few.

Monarchs on Tatarian aster (Aster tataricus)

There are many annual options, too, such as lantana, verbenas, zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds, and shrubs as well. You can find much more extensive lists of plants to consider at Recommended Plantings to Attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and Moths.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Providing an ample supply of food is just part of the picture, though. To create a complete habitat, you also need to provide butterflies with the plants they prefer for egg-laying, and for their larvae to feed on.

Anise Swallowtail Larva on Dill

This is the tricky part for some gardeners to deal with: that hosting butterfly larvae (caterpillars) means accepting a little — or a lot — of leaf damage as they feed.

Monarch Larvae on Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of caterpillars chowing down in your best beds and borders, consider planting a collection of host plants — such as dill and parsley for black swallowtails, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras for zebra swallowtails, and milkweeds (Asclepias) for monarchs — in an out-of-the-way spot. Then, if you find the larvae in your main garden, you can gently relocate them to the less-visible planting, where they can feed freely without damaging your display.

Black Swallowtail Larva on Rue (Ruta graveolens)

We encourage you to come by this summer to stroll around our gardens and enjoy the beautiful butterflies that call them home. And if you would like to enhance your own plantings with butterfly favorites, we still have many excellent nectar and host plants available!

Spicebush Swallowtail on ‘Nicky’ phlox (Phlox paniculata)


Stone in the Garden

When you visit Linden Hill Gardens for the first time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of cool plants and beautiful gardens. But when you take the time to really appreciate the design aspects — particularly the hardscaping — you’ll understand why owner Jerry Fritz is widely known as a landscape craftsman as well as a plant addict. One of the signature features of Jerry’s design work is his use of stone: a material he incorporates into his own gardens as well as those he creates for clients.

From a practical standpoint, stone is much more durable and much less maintenance than wood. Wood, after all, eventually rots and needs to be replaced. Painting or staining may delay the process a few years, but that also increases the investment of time and money over the years. A properly constructed stone wall, path, or terrace, on the other hand, can last a lifetime.

Another reason why Jerry likes to use stone so much — and why he encourages others to use it as well — is its aesthetic appeal. This natural material complements all kinds of plantings, and its presence helps to link the garden to its setting in the larger landscape.

Walls, of course, are one of the most common uses for stone in the garden. In a sloping site, stone retaining walls set against the grade can terrace the area into flatter, more useful spaces. If a site is already flat, you can build stone walls and fill behind them with soil to create raised areas, or line excavated spaces with stone walls to develop a sunken garden. In any site, free-standing stone walls are a classic choice for creating boundaries and defining spaces within a garden.

Why is it that builders and homeowners continue to create walkways by pouring boring concrete slabs and then sticking brick or flagstone on top as a veneer? In our cold-winter climate, the freezing temperatures cause the bricks or stones to break loose, and regular repointing is necessary to put them back in place. There’s a much simpler approach: excavate approximately 2 feet down, backfill with gravel, pack it firmly, and set in one or more large slabs of fieldstone or granite. The finished effect is more elegant, essentially maintenance-free, and often more cost-effective over the long run.

For secondary paths, pea gravel or crushed stone is often a good choice. It makes a nice scrunching sound underfoot, and it looks good, too. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly than a solid path, because it allows rainwater to drain through and soak into the soil instead of run off the site. Installing gravel paths can be a good way to spread out landscaping costs over time, as well: Walk on them as they are for a few years, then use them as the base for stone slabs to create the permanent walkway as money allows.

“Living patio” is a name Jerry came up with for natural fieldstone slabs in a dry-pack (unmortared) setting, with spaces left between the stones for plants to grow in. You can find out more about how Jerry designs and plants a feature like this in Bring Your Patio to Life.

A stone seat is very easy to construct, visually dramatic, and more cost-effective than a teak garden bench. Find a fairly flat stone and lay it across two chunky logs for a rustic seat, or set it on two blocky base stones to create a permanent feature. Or, find one large stone that serves as a bench all by itself. Jerry likes to create a special sitting area by placing a stone bench in a space cut into a slope. It’s especially nice when a site like this faces south, because the stone warms up quickly, making a cozy spot to sit from fall through spring. He has also designed stone chaise lounges with fragrant thyme plants around the edges to sit or lie on.

If you’re planning a water feature for your garden, don’t forget to incorporate stone. Use it to make the edging, to add height for a waterfall, or to form the base for a bubbling fountain element. Add a unique look to a pond by setting in large boulders with the tops as level as possible just above the water surface.

Long, narrow, large stones look amazing when set on end and partially buried for support. A single standing stone makes a dramatic garden accent; a pair emphatically marks an entrance or transition point. Where space allows, repeating the stones in lines, circles, or spirals creates a very powerful landscape feature.

Even short stone posts can be useful as well as beautiful, serving to mark edges, protect borders from errant garden hoses, or elevate special bits of small statuary.

Look for these and other stone features the next time you stroll through the gardens at Linden Hill. Interested in adding stone to your own landscape? Please see Our New Client Process information for details on how we work.

New and Noteworthy at Linden Hill

If you haven’t yet been to Linden Hill Gardens this spring, you’re in for a big surprise. We have many exciting changes to share with you!

New Days and Hours

In 2017, Linden Hill will be open Saturdays and Sundays only, from 10am to 4pm. During the week, we’re concentrating on supporting Jerry and Evan’s amazing design work in the landscape design side of the business. On the weekends, we’re all about you!

New Staff

When you visit us, you’ll see two new smiling faces in our retail area: Joe Resch and Leah Papp. Technically, our retail manager Joe’s not new—he joined us last summer—but this is his first year setting up the nursery from a blank slate, and he’s done an amazing job of it (more on that next). Leah is enthusiastically assisting him in her role as ‘retail specialist’. Both Joe and Leah are gardeners themselves and are always happy to help you find what you’re looking for or suggest something new to enhance your garden. Lending a hand on Saturdays will be Peggy, an interior designer who has an especially good eye for color combinations. Peggy will be happy to help you select just the right plants and then check you out with a smile!

Nursery Features

Be prepared for a completely new shopping experience once you step through the Greeting Barn. If you’re short on time, check out the latest arrivals close to the entrance. We encourage you to plan for a long visit, though, because we now have quite a few “garden rooms” for you to browse through. By popular demand, we’ve brought back a number of old favorites, including “Works for Walnuts” and a greatly expanded area just for deer-resistant plants. We also have spaces dedicated to plants for pollinators, seasonal stars, and a hydrangea haven. No more need to guess if the plants you fall in love with will work together: We’ve already done the work for you.

New Garden Spaces

It wouldn’t be Linden Hill without new gardens to enjoy as well. The new Lilac Walk by the office is filling out nicely right now, and the planting around the farmhouse looks sharp too. There will also be a fantastic new area coming in the next month or two, between the farmhouse and barn: The Chartreuserie!

‘Space Invaders’ epimedium (Epimedium)

New Plants

Jerry’s knack for finding new and noteworthy plants is working overtime this spring. For shady spaces, consider the out-of-this-world flowers of ‘Space Invaders’ epimedium.

‘White Gold’ bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

For partial shade, ‘White Gold’ bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis) is a must-have, with bright chartreuse foliage that perfectly complements the chains of pristine white hearts.

For sun, check out our extensive selection of hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum). If you’re not used to thinking about hens-and-chicks as trendy, well, we think it’s about time they should be more widely admired. Their variety of colors and leaf forms deserve to be appreciated up close, and they show off beautifully in containers, looking equally at home in an elegant stone trough or an old muffin tin.

We have many already established in clay pots and also sell them in plastic pots in case you want to move them to a special container you already own.

‘Oddity’ hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)

Those are just a few of the gems we have available at the moment. Whatever your interests, we’re sure to have something to tempt you, so make a trip to Linden Hill one of the highlights of your spring weeks!


Matchmaking with Hellebores


Whether you’re already addicted to growing hellebores or are considering them for the first time, you don’t want to miss:

Linden Hill’s 15th Annual Hellebore Festival on April 1 and 2  2017 (10am to 4pm)

We’ll have a glorious abundance of blooming-size plants with wide selection of flower forms, colors, and markings, so you’re sure to find something special.

Match Making with Hellebores

When choosing beautiful new hellebores for your garden, don’t forget to think about companion plants too. Well-chosen partners can enhance the seasonal bloom show, complementing or contrasting with the hellebores’ flower colors.


Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with Italian arum (Arum italicum ‘Pictum’) and ‘Chameleon’ euphorbia (Euphorbia dulcis)

Pairing hellebores with foliage companions is one easy and dependable way to go. Take advantage of perennial partners with evergreen leaves, such as heucheras and ‘Evergold’ sedge (Carex oshimensis), for color you can count on no matter what the weather does. Surrounding your hellebores with low-growing groundcovers, such as black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’), European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum), or moss serves a practical purpose too: They keep soil from splashing onto hellebore blooms during heavy spring rains.

Perennial companions that offer showy new growth, such as the bright yellow blades of golden wood millet (Milium effusum ‘Aureum’) or the pink-blushed leaves of a variegated creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), also offer exciting possibilities for subtle or dramatic color combinations.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with ‘Touch of Class’ creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans)


Hellebores bloom for such a long period that they can pair with a variety of flowering partners through their yearly show. To complement the first blooms of Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) and bearsfoot hellebore (H. foetidus), pair them with early risers such as snowdrops (Galanthus), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), and Crocus tommasinianus. By the time the earliest hybrid Lenten roses (H. x. hybridus) open, snowdrops are usually still in bloom, joined by reticulated iris (Iris reticulata), glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and hybrid crocuses.

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae) and Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)


As the season progresses, so do the possible flowering partners for hellebores. Take advantage of other spring bulbs, such as squills (Scilla and Puschkinia), grape hyacinths (Muscari), checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris), and early daffodils like ‘February Gold’ and ‘Tete-a-Tete’.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris)


By mid-spring, options increase for flowering perennial companions that complement hellebores of all sorts. Consider primrose species and hybrids, for example, and epimediums too, for a wide range of colors. Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla), forget-me-nots (Myosotis), lungworts (Pulmonaria), and early phlox (like Phlox divaricata and P. stolonifera) are beautiful for blues and whites; many of these offer pink options as well.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum)


Don’t forget about pansies and violas, either. They come in a rainbow of hues—and black and white and bicolors, too—so you can experiment with interesting new combinations each spring.

We’ll have lots of these and other beautiful bloomers at our 15th Annual Hellebore Festival, so plan on joining us next weekend and stock up on some much-needed spring color.

Also happening on Saturday only will be Springfair. Located in the barn and featuring local vendors offering seasonal gifts and food treats.

Cap off your visit with a walk through our gardens, particularly the Metasequoia Allee , to get even more ideas for charming hellebore companions.



Go for the Gold


‘Rozanne’ geranium weaving through ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea in the Long Border

Of all the many wonderful colors you can find in foliage, golden leaves are among the most eye-catching. They’re particularly bright and fresh-looking in spring, and many continue to add interest to beds and borders throughout the growing season as well. Golden leaves combine comfortably with pretty much any flower color, too. They’re outstanding with “blurples” (blues and purples)–one of Jerry’s signature color pairings–and crisp-looking with whites and pinks. Golden foliage is also excellent for creating dramatic combinations with black- or burgundy-leaved partners.


‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea between ‘Molly Bush’ heuchera and ‘Miss Kim’ lilac right outside the office at Linden Hill

The trick to growing gorgeous golden foliage is giving it the right site. Some of these plants produce their best leaf color in full sun; otherwise, they may turn a somewhat sickly-looking yellowish green. A few excellent choices for full sun include perennial ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and shrubby ‘Golden Spirit’ smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), ‘Lemony Lace’ elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), and ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea (Spiraea thunbergii).


It’s hard to think of a plant that lacy-leaved ‘Isla Gold’ tansy doesn’t look great with. You can see it in many combinations in our Formal Garden.


‘Golden Spirit’ smokebush positively glows against a dark background. Jerry created this outstanding color echo by taking one of the leaves to a local hardware store and getting a perfect paint match.


We have ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea growing in many of our beds and borders. Besides the sunny yellow leaf color, it’s valuable for its fragrant spring flowers, fine foliage texture, and adaptable nature. Pruning is super-simple, too: Just give it a hard trim every few years in spring if it starts to outgrow its space, or if you want to encourage bushy new growth.


Mock orange is wonderful for fragrance in bloom, but the ordinary green form isn’t very interesting any other time. When you grow the golden-leaved selection, you’ll enjoy it all through the growing season. We have it growing in our Formal Garden, underplanted with ‘Joanna Reed’ catmint.

Some other golden plants like plenty of sun, but too much strong sun can lead to a bit of leaf bleaching or browning, particularly if the soil dries out. Two that tend to look best with morning sun but some afternoon shade include ‘Golden Jubilee’ anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and golden mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’).


The foliage of ‘Golden Jubilee’ anise hyssop  is particularly brilliant in spring. Later on, the branching stems are tipped with spikes of purple-blue flowers. You can see it growing in our Formal Garden.

Many gold-leaved plants positively glow in partial to full shade, bringing the impression of dappled sunlight into shaded beds. A few you can see in the gardens here at Linden Hill include ‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia racemosa), ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), ‘All Gold’ Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra), and ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta.


‘Sun King’ aralia forms sizeable clumps of bright yellow foliage and is reportedly deer-resistant. This one grows in our Cottage Garden, under the magnolia right behind the Linden Hill office and next to the cottage.


‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart is beautiful in bloom and just as pretty afterward, thanks to its bright yellow foliage. We have it growing in many places, including our Formal Garden and Metasequoia Allee.


This charming combination from one of our Office Borders features ‘All Gold’ Hakone grass with creeping mazus (Mazus reptans), ‘Ultramarine’ forget-me-not, and a lavender-purple viola.


Over time, ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta can reach shrub-size proportions. This well-established clump in one of our Office Borders easily holds its own with ‘Unique’ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). There are many other gorgeous golden hostas that fit well into smaller gardens too.

Jerry is always on the lookout for new golden gems for our customers and landscape clients, and he has some exciting offerings on order for the upcoming growing season. Come to visit and check them out in our nursery and gardens this year; we’ll be open for the season starting on April 1, 2017 when we host our 15th annual Hellebore Festival Weekend.

We look forward to seeing you!