Agave neomexicana

on Friday, 13 January 2017. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

Hardy Agave

agave neomexicana in snow

Hardy Agaves capture us like no other plant.  Their almost mathematical geometry is mesmerizing and they are tough as nails.  One of the true survivors on our property- managing the dips in temp to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013 and the foot of snow in 2017 with not a speck of damage.  The two main hardy Agaves that we enjoy growing are Agave parryi which is a bit more pinecone shaped and Agave neomexicana which is a bit more open.  They both are blue in tone and have decorative, but nasty thorns.  They require sharp drainage and seem to do best planted in a mound.  We amend the soil with 1/4" gravel or larger decomposed granite and use it for a mulch as well to keep soil away from the crown of the plant.  Agaves do best in full sun and can look striking in a container.  They require little water once established, their fleshy roots are good at growing deeply into the soil.  One sharp poke to the nose and deer will know to leave these desert plants alone.  These two species are hardy to at least zone 7, if not zone 6.  Once they get into the 2' wide range there is the possibility of them making a flower spike and then dying, but they have usually made pups by then which will carry on the Agave torch.  You'll want to make room for these gems in your drought tolerant garden.

Ilex meserveae 'Blue Girl'

on Monday, 05 December 2016. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Blue Girl Holly

photoIlexBlueGirl250x376

Holly may seem a bit pedestrian of a choice for a plant of the week, but it fits the season and the red berries brighten up these gray fall days.  Plus 'Blue Girl' Holly is deer resistant (although in Ashland, the deer are ignoring this advice), drought tolerant, tough, and can tolerate sun or shade.  The glossy dark green leaves do have spines but they are not as sharp as many other holly types or even barberry.  The leaves look fresh and clean and are complimented by purple stems and bright clusters of red berries.  You can keep this holly around 3'-4' if you like with occasional pruning or let it get 5-6' tall and 3-6' wide for a dense hedge.  You do need a  'Blue Boy' to keep the berry production up, but it seems that there is usually a holly bush in the neighborhood to assist with pollination.   This species is especially cold hardy and can handle clay soils, appreciating the typically acidic ph of clay soils.  Keep watering to the drier side of the spectrum, and prune back if needed in the winter.   'Blue Girl' Holly is not a fast grower so it is suitable in a container paired with other festive-colored plants, like Heuchera, Nandina, and ornamental grasses.

Hydrangea quercifolia

on Monday, 03 October 2016. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Oakleaf Hydrangea

hydrangea-quercifolia

The oakleaf hydrangea offers a lot more four season interest over its showier mophead cousins and can be considered deer resistant due to its courser leaves.  In its native habitat as an understory shrub, it would appreciate protection from afternoon sun and is happiest growing under trees in dappled light or strong morning light.  A great choice for a woodland garden or dry shade, the oakleaf hydrangea grows from multiple shoots and can form a colony that gets around 6' tall and wide.  There are many smaller cultivars available that can easily can be pruned to the ground in spring to keep it 3' by 3'.   Its cone shaped clusters of white flowers differentiate it from the ball shaped flowering hydrangeas, as well as its brilliant burgundy fall color.  The flowers begin in July; lasting for months and are even pretty when dried.  The autumn changes the large, oakleaf shaped leaves into shades of red, burgundy, plum and orange.   The cinnamon-colored bark shows off in winter as it peels in thin flakes.  It can be drought tolerant once established but will make more flowers if kept well watered through the summer and keep it well mulched.  Please test its deer resistance in your neighborhood before you make a hedge out it- it may be more deer resistant in certain areas.  Let us know!

hydrangea-quercifolia-fall-color

Zauschneria (Epilobium) cana

on Sunday, 14 August 2016. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Perennial, Ground Cover, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

California Fuchsia

zauschneria-plant-of-week

The California Fuchsia is one of the most drought tolerant, heat tolerant, beautiful perennials you can grow.  We're not sure why this California native is not used more- the hard to pronounce name, the two Genus names (we like to use Zauschneria), that fact that you can kill it with kindness, perhaps?  It has been putting on a show for us and the hummingbirds in the garden since mid July and seems to be going strong until we get a severe frost in late October, maybe November.  The trumpet-shaped, hot orange flowers bloom continously and are not ugly as the fade out- they just drop off, no dead brown petals like so many perennials or even annuals.  So there is no deadheading or cleaning up.  The unreal orange color of the blooms is set off by the lovely silvery gray foliage that fits perfectly into a drought tolerant garden. 

Perovskia atriplicifolia

on Wednesday, 06 July 2016. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Russian Sage

perovskia

Perovskia or Russian Sage may seem ubiquitous but it is for a reason.  IT IS TOUGH.  And beautiful, adding long lasting color and texture to your garden.   Russian Sage is not a salvia or sage but has a pungent smell to the silvery, dissected leaves that may remind one of sage leaf.  This smell keeps the deer away so it is yet even more useful.  It is incredibly drought and heat tolerant and even looks pretty in the winter when the dried out sillouette and open branching catches the frost.  We like to wait to prune it back until spring arrives so that the crown stays protected from the winter wet.  When you see new growth emerge in mid spring that is the best to time to prune it back hard and freshen it up.  Perovskia is a woody stemmed perennial and does go winter dormant.   It requires good drainage and full sun and make sure to not keep it too wet.  The lavender blooms pair wonderfully with other heat lovers like yarrow, Rosemary and Salvia, as well as ornamental grasses or Yuccas.    Butterflies are attracted to the late summer flowers.  The straight species get quite large, as much as 4' tall and wide. But there are several newer varieties that stay more compact.  We like 'Little Spire' at 2-3' tall wide  and 'Peek a Blue' at 2' tall and wide.   We are also starting to grow Perovskia in 2 gallon pots as well as 1 gallons. They make quite a statement at the larger size and hold up better through the summer.