Continued from Right Plant, Right Place, part 2.
There really is no bad plant. Sometimes we don’t make such great choices for a particular spot or specific conditions. And sometimes, a plant fails because it’s mother nature throwing a curve ball. But we gardeners are always up for a horticulture experiment, and what’s the worst that can happen, haha? We learn another gardening lesson and give it another go. Gardeners are the eternal optimists, you know!
Try some of these favorite plants:
DELICATE- BUT WORTH THE EFFORT
Winter Daphne odora– spring bloom; variegated foliage; highly fragrant. ‘Aureo-marginata’ sports a yellow tinted leaf margin, adding off season interest.
Japanese Plum Yew, Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Prostrata’- low growing; elegant
Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Shasta’- layered foliage effect; white spring blossoms and scarlet fall berries
Many people think of perennials as time and money savers for adding color to the landscape without having to replant each year. They can be, but many drop seeds or spread vigorously and need dividing periodically. That’s a big job, unless a massing effect is desired. I often select from a choice group of perennials that have extraordinary characteristics and generally behave and stay put where they are planted. Many perennials only bloom for a brief moment but are worth it for their sheer beauty. Some favorites are:
Peony − many types, fragrant and dramatic; single blossoms require less staking. Short bloom season, but oh so worth it! Peonies are what is called a “one hundred year perennial,” meaning they are very long-lived and resent transplanting. Think ahead, place, and plant for the long term.
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ and new cultivars- long blooming with fern like foliage
Coral bells, Heuchera- many cultivars available with beautiful foliage
Phlox paniculata- many cultivars available; long blooming and fragrant
Cone flower, Echinacea– many new cultivars, colors, and forms.
Daylilies- literally, hundreds to choose from. By choosing early, middle, and late blooming cultivars, the blooming season can extend for weeks!
A caveat: perennials in central Virginia can be challenging due to our hot, dry summers, and wet winters. I essentially go into it with the notion of growing them as annuals, and if they come back next year, well that’s very exciting. If not, I don’t take it personally, get to replant and find some new favs!
Besides personal enjoyment, the goal of every landscape is to enhance the architecture of your home, soften lines, create focal points, screen views, and ultimately increase the property value. It pays to think outside the box when planning your landscape, especially right around the house. For an unusual effect, consider an espalier, that is, training a shrub or small tree flat against a wall. They do require some periodic maintenance, but make a stunning focal point. However, consider the wall surface and it’s appropriateness as a backdrop. Unpainted brick, for instance, is a perfect surface. Siding that needs regular painting and maintenance is not a good candidate for an espalier installation.
Always read the plant tags and space plants accordingly. I use an 80% rule, spacing the plants as if they will grow to 80% of their estimated mature size. Your newly installed plants will look great and be spaced appropriately for their future growth. Keep in mind all plants need extra TLC the first year or two after planting.
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