Healthy and Beautiful Gardens - My favorite plants
Friday, November 1st, 2013
Issue 44, Volume 17.
The following plants are some of my personal "go to’s" when I am doing a landscape design, listed in no particular order. They’re great in this climate zone, from Fallbrook to Anza, and they’re low maintenance. Most of these are in my own garden as well, so I have personal experience growing them here.
Let’s try to give a little bit of order to listing these. Let’s start out with low growing plants – groundcovers, low perennials etc. Many plants that are called "shrubs" are also perennials – actually all shrubs are perennials, but not all perennials are shrubs.
I’d start out with "Lambs Ears" – or Stachys byzantina – also the variety S. lanata (Countess or Helen Von Stein). Of the two varieties here, the preferred one for me is the latter as it forms large clumps that rarely shoot up flower stalks. The flowers stalks are not exciting and I usually cut them off of S. byzantina. This is a gray, fuzzy leaved plant that goes great with just about anything.
I am a succulent fanatic, so those are on my list of course. Echeverias are beautiful and come in many shapes and colors, but you must make sure they are "hardy." Also, some can get quite large, so look for the size you want.
Some varieties to try include Fuzzy echeveria "Wooly rose" (E. Doris Taylor), "Black Prince" echeveria (E. affinis), "Lipstick" echiveria (E. agavoides), and "Fire and Ice" echeveria (E. subrigida) – all of which can take down to 20 degrees.
One more succulent that is great in the garden is in the aloe family, it is called "Red Hesperaloe" (Hesperaloe parviflora) and it can take freezing weather, almost grassy appearance, and shoots up long stalks covered with dark orange, red, yellow, or pink flowers, about 2.5 feet tall.
Agaves – huge family, but one is a stand out if we’re talking about smaller sized ones and that is a hybrid called "Blue Glow".
Another one of my favorite perennial succulents is called Sedum "Autumn Joy". It flowers in the fall but has nice clumps of bluish greenleaves throughout the summer – about 3’ tall and wide.
Penstemons aka "Beard Tongue" has gorgeous flowering plants and I highly recommend these. Some of them are actually natives and others are hybrids that flower more but require more water. "Appleblossom" – a light pink hybrid 2-3’ – and "Margarita BOP" (p. heterophyllus) – a bluish purple low grower – are two I recommend highly.
Salvia (Sage) – there are a lot of choices here. The readily available S. leucantha or "Mexican Bush Sage" is high on my list. It is gorgeous in bloom and it blooms most of the summer. It adds a nice dimension and color to any garden with its royal purple blooms. Salvia greggii – "Autumn Sage" is another great salvia with beautiful lilac colored blooms all summer and fall long and greyish leaves.
Grasses – I’m talkin about "clumping or ornamental grasses" here, not lawn. "Mexican Feather Grass" (pennisetum stipa or Fountain Grass) is a prolific grower – some say too prolific, but it’s beautiful as the sun shines through the stalks as they sway in the breeze.
P. masaicum "Red Bunny Tails" grows to about 2’ high with green leaves with burgundy highlights, best with regular watering. Festuca – or "fescue" are my preferred varieties – Festuca glauca "Elijah blue" or the harder to get F. californica, a native, both of these are blue-gray in color and shoot up flower spikes/heads that I leave on the plants as long as possible. I like the way they look.
One more group that I use prolifically in my garden and designs are the Nandinas. These are fantastic plants, even though common, but if you choose the right ones and give them a little water, they are wonderful and tough. Some of my favorites are "Firepower" (only about 1’-2’ high), "Nana Compacta" and "Gulf Stream" (3-4’) – they are all green, yellow, orange and red leaved, have no pests, and produce red berries in fall and small white flowers in spring.
Alright, I can definitely see this topic for me is going to take a few weeks. I didn’t even touch on ground covers, shrubs, and let alone trees! So, be sure to pick up next week’s copy of the paper to learn about some more highly recommended plants for your garden.
As always, if you have any questions or would like a professional consultation, call or email me.
Country Gardens Landscape Design
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