Articles in Category: Shrubs

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

vitex-plant-of-the-week

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.  

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Sunday, 16 April 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

King Edward Red Flowering Currant

ribes-sanguineum

Flowering currants are at their best in late April with their cascades of flowers and scalloped leaves, but late fall and early spring is the best time to plant natives to get them established before the summer heat. 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the species but both attract hummingbirds, and then songbirds with the dark blue berries that follow the flowers. They are a great native that can take dry shade under an oak or other large tree.  Morning sun or dappled shade is best and don't overdo the summer water, they are used to summer drought and winter wet.  Flowering currants grow quickly and have a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants.  They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide.  We also have the yellow blooming species- Ribes aureum, whose flowers seem even more scented and has vibrant red/orange fall color.  Flowering currants are great as part of a mixed screen or hedge in dappled light.

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!

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Viburnum trilobum and V. plicatum var. tomentosum

on Tuesday, 19 April 2016. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Edible, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Cranberry and Doublefile Viburnum

photoViburnumPlicatumTomentosum-DoublefileViburnum250x166

There are a lot of Viburnum species out there and these are two of our favorites.  Simply elegant and easy, the Cranberry Viburnum (trilobum, photo at bottom) and Doublefile Viburnum (plicatum tomentosum, photo at top) sport a flower more similar to a lacecap hydrangea than the more common snowball Viburnum.  They are much easier and less fussy than the moisture-loving Hydrangeas.  The flower clusters are interesting to watch unfold over the late spring weeks adding a long term interest for a flowering shrub.  The flowers of both varieties turn to red fruit but the Cranberry Viburnum's fruit is technically edible and more profuse.  These deciduous Viburnums also get nice fall color, a wine red.  The Cranberry bush Viburnum has a lovely tiered, layered habit that fits nicely in a woodland or more naturalistic garden.  The horizontal branching of the Doublefile Viburnum gives it a nice form even through the bare days of winter.   We have a Cranberry Viburnum on the NW corner of our house and seems to take the afternoon heat and part shade in stride.  Their preference is probably not the hottest location you have but dappled light, part shade, or protection from all day sun, although once acclimated seem to tolerate it.