Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Wednesday, 15 November 2017. 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.  The winter of 2013 where we got to zero degrees for several nights proved fatal to some Arbutus and some rebounded after suffering damage on top.  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.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

on Monday, 16 October 2017. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry

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We are in love with this serviceberry.  It is a great small tree or large shrub; we like it multi stem but we have single stem available as well.  It is interesting in all four seasons starting with leaves that emerge bronze, then become a lovely blue-green in summer and turn fiery orange and red in fall.  The white flowers start out as a fuzzy, peach color and seem to last longer than the flowering cherries, at least 3 weeks and then form blue-black fruit that the birds enjoy.  They also are not prone to damage from late spring frosts.   Provide full to half day sun.  Well draining soil and our dry summers should help prevent some of the humidity based diseases it can get.  Can be drought tolerant once established and grows 15-25 feet tall.  Good replacement in sun for multi trunked Japanese Maple.  Looks great with dark green pines or other evergreen as backdrop.

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Dark Knight'

on Saturday, 30 September 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Dark Knight Bluebeard

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This late summer bloomer goes by several common names, Bluebeard, Blue Spirea, or Blue Mist so we usually stick to calling it Caryopteris. It is indispensible for an easy, deer resistant, drought tolerant (but also tolerant of moist soils), and long blooming addition to your garden border. The plant in the photo is 'Dark Knight' which is a darker shade of periwinkle-blue from the common 'Blue Mist' variety. Both varieties put on a show with hundreds of flowers from July to frost, attracting honeybees and butterflies from all around. A low maintenance plant, Caryopteris can be kept at 2-3' tall and wide with a spring pruning but will get larger if left unpruned. We find that our winters do some tip pruning anyways so it is best to clean them up in spring when you see new leaves emerge and pruning right above them, which can sometimes be as low as 6" from the base. They quickly recover into a nice mounded shape, looking dense and uniform. So they are great for the maintenance person that loves to come in and hedge trim everything! With its aromatic, lance shaped leaves, this shrub has proven to be deer resistant. The leaves have a blue/silver tinge that look great with other silvers like Artemesia or contrast with purple foliage like smokebush. We find Caryopteris to be drought tolerant because of its very deep taproot but can look lusher with regular water in well draining soil. Full sun is best and they will tolerate reflected heat.

Chilopsis linearis

on Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Desert Willow

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The Desert Willow has truly captured our attention.  Scott thinks the smell of the thin, willow-like,leaves remind him of the Southwest, reminiscent of sagebrush.  But the flowers are almost tropical looking, attracting hummingbirds near and far..  Tubular, burgundy flowers emerge in clusters at the tips of branches all summer long.  Just when everything else is taking a break in the heat, this tree thrives.  It will tolerate drought as well as summer irrigation as long as it has well draining soil.  So a great choice for a slope or granitic, sandy soil.  The Desert Willow is very late to leaf out in the spring, so pair it with plants that have spring interest, but it will put on a show until the early fall.  Chilopsis are a small tree with an open habit, getting 15-20' wide and tall and prefering to be a bushy shape but can be single or multi-trunk with pruning.   It would do best in a hot location, a south or west exposure, hardy to Zone 7.  But we have seen it in the Denver Botanic Garden, so when it's dormant and established could withstand colder temperatures.  'Bubba' has larger flowers and leaves than the species. 'Burgundy' also has darker blooms than the species.  They are in full bloom here at the nursery in July well into September, so come visit!

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.