By Diana Lockwood / For The Columbus Dispatch

The Midwest isn’t the easiest place to grow beautiful plants.

It’s usually too hot — unless it’s too cold; precipitation consistently misses the sweet spot; and a new garden pest is always lurking over the horizon.

So advice from a leading public garden can provide much-needed inspiration — such as this list of “best plants for your Midwestern garden” from the Chicago Botanic Garden (details at

• Joanna Reed catmint, which is “covered with a continuous display of violet-blue flowers.”

• Big Ears lamb’s ears, which boasts “large, pale silvery-green leaves.”

• Butterfly weed, an orange-flowered native that feeds monarch caterpillars.

• Black and Blue salvia, with bright-blue flowers and almost-black stems.

Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans,’ a “plant-it-and-forget-it” shade lover.

For a few more tidbits that can enhance your gardening life, read on.

Beets — maybe

Although neither Democrats nor Republicans seem very popular these days, the poll numbers of at least one group in Washington, D.C., are climbing: beets.

“Don’t be surprised if the new White House Kitchen Garden takes on a Slavic flavor,” George Ball, head of home gardening company W. Atlee Burpee, said in a news release.

According to Ball, first lady Melania Trump boasts a proud Slovenian heritage with…