Category: Plant Focus
October 23, 2015
Bamboo gardens can be truly enticing and provide all sorts of benefits. With bamboo you’ll create protective habitat for songbirds that’s filled with all sorts of mites and other edibles they crave. You’ll create an evergreen privacy screen, fast. You’ll enjoy the unique, raspy sound of canes brushing together. You’ll potentially have an unending supply of hardy stakes and edible shoots.
But, is bamboo your best option?
Bamboo, particularly running bamboos but also some clumpers, can become highly invasive – no matter what you do to contain them. Installing root barriers may help keep some bamboo varieties contained, but as we learned the hard way, they do break down over time.
Even when bamboo is installed in sturdy planters, it can escape!
When your bamboo does make a break for it, what do you do then?
October 16, 2015
We get a lot of inquiries about toxic plants and other potential dangers in the garden. But, nothing has been as scary as the text we received earlier this week from one of our clients (paraphrasing):
Do you know what these plants are? My friend’s kids ate/played ‘yummy tacos’ with them and now he’s puffy and uncomfortable.
Sounds like it was toxic taco Monday in that garden!
Accompanying her question was a photo of Bergenia cordifolia (shown below). After doing a bit of research, we found that CalPoisons.org indicates this plant isn’t toxic to humans. And, some sites discussed how some of its parts are used in Ayurvedic medicine. And, other sites put it on the list of plants toxic to dogs.
So, at what point do we decide to cross a plant off our design list for toxicity? It isn’t uncommon for clients to request “no dangerous or toxic plants” in their design, but at what point does a plant get cut because it’s a hazard?
Consider this: One of my best friends went on a road trip through the southwest. When she returned home, she said she was surprised the trip didn’t kill her dog. That puppy got all sorts of spines and needles up her nose while sniffing around, and my friend even impaled her calf with some sort of hard spined plant as she took a photo of the landscape. The needle went in one side of her calf and out the other — thank goodness it wasn’t coated in poison!
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So, does a mechanical issue like spines make a plant risky enough to omit? But in which gardens? Does the potential that a kid might make and serve Bergenia tacos to his dog mean that plant should be off the list? And, what about wild things like mushrooms that pop up overnight out of mulch – how do you plan for that? (more…)
October 02, 2015
Need drought tolerant plant ideas for your PacNW garden?
As our climate continues to change, bringing longer, hotter, drier summers, it’s evermore important to select garden plants that not only tolerate hot and dry, but also thrive and perhaps offer us some respite from the broiling sun. The 2015 summer in Seattle was a perfect time to push the limits on plants to determine which can take the heat and which need the most supplemental water to survive when the ground is parched and the sun just won’t stop.
Following are a few rock star plants that shined the brightest this summer: A tree, a shrub, a grass(like), a ground cover and a perennial. And, yes, they all look great together!
Acer griseum: This tough-as-nails little maple has consistently been one of our top tree choices. We’ve known it can thrive in direct sunlight. It even does well in urban settings where extra heat builds and reflects onto it from sidewalks and street asphalt. Plus, it looks fantastic all year long.
This year we watched ours closely for watering needs and found they didn’t require watering at all. Not one watering! Even as succulent Sedum groundcovers below them shriveled into mid-summer dormancy, these trees didn’t need to be watered at all. Now, keep in mind, they’ve been in the ground for almost a decade and were well watered in infancy to ensure they’d root. But, we’ve hardly watered them in years. If you add them to your garden, be sure to keep them watered sufficiently until yours are fully established. Then, you’ll have a low-maintenance, easy-care, gorgeous small tree whose shade may help take care of you in the long, hot summers ahead.
Physocarpus ‘Diablo’: The cultivar name of this ninebark hints at its ability to love the heat, and indeed it does. If you’re looking for a large, deciduous, sun-loving shrub with four seasons of interest, this beauty may be perfect.
In fact, you almost can’t kill this thing. We love to use late winter tree trimmings for pea and bean towers, but we’ll never use this devil’s spawn that way again. Seriously, shove a stick from this in the soil, and it will sprout. And, if you’re trying to use it as a pea trellis, well, don’t. It’ll suck the life out of any seedling struggling to get a start near this powerhouse. If you add this shrub to your garden, watering it while young may not be critical, but watering while young is the insurance policy you’ll buy to guarantee a long-lived shrub with lots of drought tolerant year ’round interest in the hot, dry future.(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)
Carex testacea: Love the look of landscape grasses? Try this sedge (shown above) instead. It’s (more…)
September 04, 2015
One of the common woes we hear from new clients isn’t that they need a super cool, cutting-edge or hip garden. Rather, they simply want something interesting going on outside their windows even in the dead of winter. While we can almost always suggest a variety of plants with evergreen foliage and flowers in our PacNW winters, we also ask our clients to consider many other gorgeous and striking plant features that are non-blooming stand-outs from late summer through winter.
The end result when they look beyond the blossom? A berry hip garden.
Need help figuring out how to add just the right berries, hips, cones, twigs, pods and other bits of “off season” interest to your garden? Contact us for personalized on-site help today! This list just scratches the surface of all the possibilities!
August 14, 2015
Hardy fuchsias make it into just about every garden we design. Fuchsia plants come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Seasonal baskets usually drip with annual varieties that only strut their stuff until a cold snap that kills them, but the stunning array of hardy fuchsias is equally show-stopping — plus, these come back year after year. Both tender and hardy fuchsia plants feed hummingbirds and bees throughout the growing season. And, once pollinated, fuchsia fruits are edible – the bigger the flower, the bigger the fruit.
The Fuchsia genus includes ground covers, woody shrubs, delicate perennials and basket dripping color pops – truly there’s a fuchsia for every garden. And don’t be fooled – fuchsias come in more than just the magenta color fuchsia.(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)
Other mid- to large size hardy fuchsia favorites: