Friday, September 18, 2009

We Can Have It All – Year Round Color & Texture

By Gardennia nutti

Drimys lanceolata, commonly known as pepper bush, caught my eye at several Le Tour des Plants nurseries but because it was rated a zone 8-9, I hesitated to make a purchase. But this morning at Madrona Hills Ace Hardware, I attended a seminar on “Plants for winter color and interest” given by Laurie from Youngblood Nursery, a wholesale nursery known for its unusual and high quality plants. Laurie said she planted the Drimys last year in her yard and it came through our cold winter with flying colors so I decided to give it a try. It just might be the perfect plant: evergreen with striking deep red stems, grows slowly to 6’x6’, takes pruning, is lovely in flower arrangements, and grows in sun to shade. Laurie has hers planted in dappled shade. You can see the array of plants she discussed in the photo.

Here are a few treasures she pulled from Madrona Hills’ inventory that will provide texture and color in containers or your garden in the gray months of the year (the conifers in particular need good to excellent drainage):

Polygala chamaebuxus ‘Kamniski’, a native evergreen groundcover with pink and yellow fragrant blooms for sun or shade

Euonymus fortunei ‘Harlequin’, a variegated ground cover (1’ high x 3-4’ wide) with leaves that emerge white, turn green keeping a white margin, and then blush pink in the winter

Podocarpus alpinus ‘Red Tip’, bluish-green short needles with deep purple-red new growth

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gold Fern’, the wonderful texture of a hinoki cypress but with a smaller stature (slowly growing about 2-3” a year to 6 ft.) and gold-tinged foliage that takes full sun (the gold foliage may experience some burn) to part shade

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Knaptonensis’, a slow growing small conifer (to 2 ft.) with new needles emerging white to brighten the shady part of your garden

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