Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plant Focus: Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’

By Gardennia nutti
Last summer we put a foundation drain around our house. This was a pretty gross project from a financial standpoint, but it gave me the excuse I needed to rip out the foundation plantings (mainly overgrown sheered hedges with no character) and put in cool new gardens. The challenge I faced with these new gardens was finding plants that would do well in moderately dry shade. This challenge wasn't without some fun however, because it meant visiting many nurseries and talking to wonderful nursery staff about the plants they would recommend for these areas.

One day while wondering the greenhouses at Dancing Oaks Nursery, I came upon Mahonia 'Soft Caress' (Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' PP20183) with delicate evergreen bamboo-like foliage that stopped me in my tracks. I picked it up, crossed my fingers, and took it to a staff member:
“Will this grow in shade?” I asked.
“Yes” she replied.

“How about drier conditions?”
“Once established – yes. This is Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ and it’s a great plant for many areas; it’s zone 7-10 so it will do well even with a tough winter.”

“How large does it get?”
“4 to 6 feet. It’s great as a specimen plant in gardens, foundations plantings, borders, or containers.”

I grabbed a few of these fine discoveries (along with many other plants) and planted them in several different areas around my house. My new mahonias are starting to grow and spread their leaves now and what an amazing addition they have made to my yard, adding evergreen, delicate leaves and beautiful yellow flowers all winter.

Looking for a cool new plant? Join us at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show February 12 – 14. Discover new plants, ideas, and fun! You'll find Dancing Oaks Nursery and their wonderful plants in booth #977 (across the aisle from Bauman Farms).

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