Articles in Category: Good for Screening

Vitex agnus-castus

on Friday, 07 July 2017. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste tree

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Our hot summers allow us to enjoy this Mediterranean native that is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  Heat is neccessary for profuse blooms, and profuse it is once it gets going in July and August.  The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and last at least 4 to 5 weeks.  The color can vary from pale lavender to a darker purple and attract bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.  The fragrant leaves are very attractive on their own- they are divided similar to a laceleaf Japanese Maple and are a very pleasant shade of soft blue-green and gray-green underneath.  Chaste tree is late to leaf out in the spring, helping it avoid damage from our late spring frosts; but makes a good small shade tree in the heat of summer.  One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree or a large, broad shrub.   We have seen older specimens around the valley that are 10' tall by about 12-15' wide, meaning they are cold hardy once established and can get quite large.  However, they can be maintained at 6' tall and wide or trained up as a small shade tree. They take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed.  We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.  Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil but will tolerate both conditions well.   We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses.  Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and have lovely blooms late in the season.  

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

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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.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Rotundifolius'

on Tuesday, 07 April 2015. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus (False Holly)

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This evergreen shrub is being highlighted because it looks good all year round. No leaf spot, no diseases or weird pests, no old brown leaves, just glossy, thick leaves that start out light green and darken to a beautiful holly-like blue green.  The Holly Tea Olive or Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus is very easy to grow and seems to be happy in any location.  We have one planted on the east, west, and north sides of buildings and all seem to be thriving.  It may not be the first choice for a hot spot against a south wall but they seem to acclimate to where they are placed and will even tolerate clay soil.  They will be more drought tolerant in a shadier location but our established ones are rudely ignored and haven't complained.  A thick mulch layer will help any evergreen shrub, or any plant for that matter, retain moisture and withstand the changes in temperature.  This Osmanthus is hardy to Zone 6 and has shown no winter damage through Rogue Valley winters.  Like most Osmanthus it produces small, white, fragrant flowers, typically in the fall.  This variety will get about 4'x4' but can be pruned a bit tighter.  It is not fast growing but puts on steady growth each year and won't overrun it's location.  It is a great foundation plant or background for showier perennials. If the spines of Hollies are not your favorite this could be a good substitute since the rounded leaves only have slight spines- nothing to cause damage to the pruning gardener.   It can be deer resistant once established since it has thick, leathery leaves.  But in heavy deer country it can have a hard time getting settled if the deer constantly eat the new growth.  So cage it until it can get big enough to withstand the occasional deer browsing or test it out first- it seems to depend on the deer population on this one. 

Here's a photo from Xera Plants of a 5 year old Osmanthus: http://www.xeraplants.com/Xera/Osman._Rotundifolius_files/Osmanthus%20rotundifolius.jpg

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry tree

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Compact Strawberry tree is one of our favorites for so many reasons- it can tolerate sun or shade, drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit, and it's evergreen!  You can see how this relative of our native Madrone gets its common name of Strawberry tree- the orange and red fruits resemble strawberries- although edible, they are more for wildlife as they are bland  and mealy in texture.  The honey scented, white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after.  Some years seem to have heavier fruit set than others, but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy.  With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year.   It is not the most fast growing evergreen shrub but will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger).  With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller.  It is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditons.  It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.  We have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7 degree winter with no damage!  In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds.  They can take little to regular water and are tolerant of many soil types.  We wish they were deer resistant but unfortunately the tips get chewed too much to be reliable.   Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings  or hedges.  You will be hardpressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year round interest, plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much needed winter nectar source.

Cistus spp.

on Wednesday, 15 May 2013. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Rockrose

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Rockroses are much more diverse than you would think after seeing what's usually available.  The ratty looking Orchid Rockrose (Cistus purpurea) or some of the old fashioned types don't hold up well.  Yet there are some spectacular forms out there that, with proper care, will fill that niche for an evergreen shrub with showy blooms.  Another bonus is that Cistus are usually deer resistant (the more resinous and pungent the leaves, the better) and they are always drought tolerant.  They must have well draining soil (not too fertile is best) and minimal summer water once established....basically ignore them once they get settled in.  Cistus thrive in their native Meditteranean climate of hot summers, and mild, wet winters and can do well on a fast draining or rocky hillside.  Make sure they are placed in a location that gets winter sun. Rockroses can look great as a mass groundcover (they usually are wider than tall) or mixed in a drought tolerant bed of lavenders, rosemaries, Ceanothus and other Meditteranean plants. Each individual flower doesn't last long but they bloom successively over many weeks. They don't tolerate heavy pruning, just annual tip pruning to keep them compact and.

Here are some of our favorites (we chose the best cold hay varieties from Xeraplants and more info can be found from the Xera Plants website):