Planting Those Really Sunny Spots

Nearly every garden has a spot that really cooks in the summer. It might be the west-facing wall of the garage, the bed along the south side of the house, or maybe the roof-top garden. Add drought to existing sunny conditions and your planting choices for these areas start to shrink quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of water-wise landscape plants that welcome the dry heat of these microclimates.

Here are a few hints for establishing plants in those “hot spots.”

  • Don’t plant in the heat of summer. Plant in early spring or fall so the plants will have a chance to establish their robust root systems without the heat of summer.
  • Incorporate water-absorbing crystals like Soil Moist when you back fill the planting hole. Then water your new plants regularly throughout their first growing season. Drought-tolerant plants still need water even if used in a water-wise garden. (Keep in mind that if the soil is fast draining and water is not available, plants may not be a practical choice. Consider alternatives, such as tiles and beach glass. For more ideas, see the blog post Mass Appeal.
  • Be sure to add a 2- to 3-inch layer of fertile mulch to keep the soil cool and retain moisture.

Let’s get specific. Some of my favorite low-maintenance, drought-tolerant landscape plants are:

  • Brachyglottis greyi ‘Sunshine’, also called Sunshine Senecio or daisy bush
  • Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, also called Griffith’s Spurge ‘Fireglow’
  • Lavendula angustifolia ‘Vera’, also called Vera Lavender
  • Salvia guaranitica ‘Balack and Blue’, also called Blue Anise Sage
  • Many varieties of succulents

Not only do these plants love heat, they are also wonderfully fragrant and will perfume the air.

Contact us to learn more about water-wise gardens and how to choose plants for specific locations.

Landscape Design with Succulents brings new life to the summer garden

By definition, Succulent plants are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened or fleshy usually to retain water in acrid climates or soil conditions.  This means, universally, they store water and are drought tolerant.

Sedum is a genus of over 400 leaf Succulents including hardy perennial bushes that that can grow as tall as four feet.  These low maintenance gems provide an array of foliage and flower variations.  Nearly indestructible and virtually disease resistant, the species that thrive in the Pacific Northwest do best in full sun, in average to poor soil with good drainage, and little or no supplemental water.  At this time of year, Succulents are a great way to refresh pots and add to perennial borders or annual plantings that need a boost.  Tender varieties that will not make it though the winter in this climate (mostly due to soggy winters causing them to rot), lend a dramatic and almost desert or tropical feel during the warmer months of the Pacific Northwest.  Varieties like ‘Metallica’ (pictured) grow to several inches across offering great scale and a wonderful spectrum of color variation.

With hundreds of varieties to choose from, the possibilities are endless!

Michael Muro Garden Design offers garden planning and comprehensive landscape design in Washington State.