Lenten roses, snowdrops and cyclamen are blooming right now, and if you are not enjoying them in your garden, now is a good time to think about adding them before this next year.
A stroll through the Washington Park Arboretum or Kubota Gardens will reveal more plants and trees with winter interest. At this time of year, colorful conifers pop, and deciduous trees with intriguing bark and interesting branching patterns stand out. Early-blooming deciduous trees are flowering and one of the first to bloom, the Witch Hazel, is just finishing up. When in bloom, its bare branches are adorned with tiny confetti-like flowers held close to the branches illuminating them with colors ranging from pale yellow to fiery red depending on the cultivar. One of the most popular, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’, has vivid yellow flowers that seem to warm a cold winter day.
What would make your garden more winter-friendly? If you’re thinking about a new garden or ready to update the one you have, some of these plants can be incorporated into a comprehensive plan that is suitable for your yard.
Winter blooming plants, perennials and bulbs can be the first in a succession of seasonal flowers that continue throughout summer and into autumn. A diverse palette of plants that includes flower and foliage interest throughout all the seasons is the best way to maximize the appeal of your garden as well as the time and money you invest in it.
Planning garden upgrades this winter is a great way to prepare for spring!
If you’re looking for more ideas, please reach out to me for a design consultation to learn about landscape design or how to maximize the impact of garden plantings.
I’m a firm believer in “loving thy neighbor” but if your view is directly into their dining room, it can be too much of a good thing. Robert Frost’s proverb “good fences make good neighbors” also comes to mind when thinking about city and suburban living. I can turn that concept into a private garden – with or without a fence – using beautiful plants and trees to add softness, color and texture.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING PLANTS
Growth rate and ten year size? How long will it take the plant to grow large enough to achieve the desired size? If it grows too tall or wide, can it be pruned effectively? These are questions my clients frequently ask.
When planning small gardens, I avoid fast growing conifers (think needles and cones) that will quickly outgrow a space. When hard pruning is required to limit their size, it will only ruin their appearance and damage the tree. The leyland cypress is a popular choice for privacy hedges because it will provide dense coverage in just a couple years with regular shearing. However, in a confined space it will reach a point where it cannot be maintained and even need to be removed.
Here are some well-behaved broadleaf evergreen plants for screening:
LAURUS NOBILIS (BAY LAUREL)
A large, compact shrub or small tree with deep green, aromatic leaves also used in cooking. Bay laurel has a dense habit, making it an excellent choice for small gardens. It reacts well to pruning and is easily manipulated to fit strategic spaces. It grows slowly, so buy one that is already large if you want immediate results. Avoid the cultivar ‘Emerald Waves’ because it is susceptible to disease and winter cold damage.
MYRICA CALIFORNICA (PACIFIC WAX MYRTLE)
This fast-growing Pacific wax myrtle is a dense shrub with small, grass green ovate leaves that cover its woody stems and branchlets. New foliage sprouts anywhere stems are cut making it easy to manage. Pacific wax myrtle needs full sun and occasional pruning to maintain its density. It will easily reach ten feet tall or more within a few years. It can be clipped, but looks best in its natural form.
PRUNUS LUITANICA (PORTUGAL LAUREL)
Deep green, glossy leaves and a broad, dense habit make this a good shrub for large spaces. Portugal laurel grows moderately fast in medium rich soil and becomes a small tree as it matures. It can be pruned as a hedge, but looks best with only occasional shaping to enhance its graceful form and attractive new foliage.
Tip: All plants, even those that are considered drought tolerant, need regular water until they are well-established.
With summer in full swing, revitalizing your garden is a great way to prepare for the fall planting season!
If you’re looking for more ideas, please contact me for a design consultation to learn about landscape design or how to maximize the impact of plantings for any spot in your garden.
No matter how you feel about the transition to fall, the unmistakably rich hues of our autumn foliage are something to look forward to.
Though deciduous trees have lost their leaves and winter is on its way, there are still many plants that can brighten your garden with colorful foliage. You don’t have to wait for the first blooms of snowdrops and hellebores to appear in late winter and early spring.
There are two categories of plants that will add colorful foliage to a winter garden: conifers (plants with needles and cones) and broad-leaf evergreens (plants that keep their leaves year ’round). Of course, these plants add depth to your garden during all the seasons, but when flowering plants and deciduous trees are dormant, these become important players and move onto center stage. Whether positioned en masse as a backdrop or at the forefront of a planting, colorful foliage provides contrast, supporting the rich shades of deep green in the surrounding plants and trees. And, if you add strategic lighting, you can brighten even the shortest day and darkest winter night.
Here are a few plants that will lighten up your garden this fall and winter.
Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’ (Variegated English Boxwood) has dramatic fine-textured foliage with creamy yellow margins that contrasts well with other darker green foliage. This boxwood can be grown as a clipped or unclipped specimen, suitable for use as a hedge, or a focal plant in a container garden, or repeated in a symmetrical composition. A versatile plant, it’s easy to grow in a variety of conditions.
Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ (Sundance Mexican Orange) produces bold yellow-green new growth that matures to a vibrant grass-green. This bright foliage creates dynamic combinations with other colorful foliage such as blue, gray, burgundy and dark purple. Tolerant of many soil types, but needs some sun for the best color.
Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ (Maculata Golden Elaeagnus) has dramatic leaves with chiffon yellow centers that contrast with rich, two tone-green margins. Each leaf of the plant has a different pattern, giving the plant amazing depth and texture. You’ll find it performs well in sun or shade. It’s perfect for a dark spot in your garden.
Fatsia japonica ‘Camouflage (Camouflage Japanese Aralia) has big palmate leaves and highly textured yellow, lime, and green foliage that will illuminate the dappled shade locations where it does best. The large leaves and open habit give it an exotic, almost tropical look.
Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’ (Sunshine Ligustrum) has intense golden-yellow foliage that makes a statement. Plant it en masse, or as part of a vibrant foliage combination, or use it as a centerpiece in a container garden. Be sure to use this plant strategically, ensuring it will not visually dominate a combination planting. Not that this ligustrum requires a sunny location.
As you create the master plan for your garden, keep in mind that artful composition—balanced with repetition for continuity—will minimize seasonal downtime and ensure that all parts of your garden flow together seamlessly from just about any viewpoint. Avoid the temptation of random plant selections! You want to make sure whatever you plant is part of a thoughtful, comprehensive plan.
If you’re looking for more ideas, please contact me for a design consultation to learn about landscape design or the best plants for any spot in your garden.
The change of seasons presents opportunities for dramatic new container garden compositions. Dwarf conifers can be the perfect pick-me-up for sparse-looking containers.
You’ll find that conifers are durable and easy to grow. They need little care and most dwarf conifers grow so slowly that they can thrive for years before outgrowing their spaces.
Conifers come in an array of dramatic shapes, colors, and complex textures. Colors range from blue and green to yellow and even white variegation. There are dense, compact conifers shaped like globes or buns, ones with luxurious, fern-like foliage that curves and twists, and others with delicate needles that weep and drape. Some conifers look soft and fluffy while others sport stiff, sturdy needles. Whatever shapes or colors you choose, you’ll find that conifers really “pop” against winter skies and glow in the beams of accent lighting.
Dwarf conifers are readily available in most nurseries at this time of year, so now is a great time to update the pots on your patio.
Some of my favorite mini conifers include:
Chamacyparis obtusa ‘Minama’ – Minima Hinoki Cypress. A compact mound with rich, dark-green spray-like foliage dotted with grass-green new growth.
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘White Pygmy’ – White Pygmy Dwarf False Cypress. A petite cushion of soft yellow-green sprays of needles.
Tsuga canadensis ‘Minuta’ – Minuta Canadian Hemlock. A tight-mounding cushion with a tiny version of the needles of the giant Canadian Hemlock.
Dwarf and mid-size conifers are also wonderful garden specimens that add evergreen structure to the winter garden and take center stage in the dormant season.
Contact us to learn more about garden planning, landscape design, and fall planting.