Bursting into bloom – March 29

Temperatures have remained chilly through last week, but a few more daffodils are opening and the magnolias have given up waiting for warm days and decided to bloom regardless. p1010969On average Redbuds should begin to flower this week, but I doubt that will happen for another week (the picture below shows the swollen redbud flower buds).p1010992

The Okame cherry is almost past bloom now, but the buds of the weeping pink cherry aren’t close to opening. I see on television that the Tidal Basin cherries are flowering now, but thirty miles west we’re at least a week behind. Meadows Farms planted a couple hundred cherries at the Tidal Basin almost thirty years ago, and I often think about going there to see if I can recall any that I planted. But I hear about the traffic, and it doesn’t seem such a grand idea.

Purpleleaf plum have been in bloom in the neighborhoods out my way for a week or so. I don’t have one in my garden because they are a Japanese beetle magnet that practically require spraying, and I try to avoid poisons as much as possible. However, they are a lovely tree.

Also in bloom for the past week or two are the Callery pears, Bradford being the most well known but also the most reviled for its tendency to split in windstorms. The Callery pears have many fine attributes, fast growth, a tidy upright oval shape, long lasting Spring blossoms, and outstanding Fall color, but have fallen into disfavor as an invasive. I may quibble with some plants called invasive, but look at any untended fence row and you’ll see white blooming pears.

With warmer weather ahead the flowers of magnolias, cherries, redbuds, and dogwoods are likely to overlap, which is not how it’s supposed to work, but isn’t all that unusual. Though the period of Spring blossoms will be condensed it will be all the more delightful.

p1010978The race in my garden for first magnolia to bloom was won by Dr. Merrill, who was undoubtedly proud. Following very closely by mere hours was the Royal Star (below). The blooms are quite similar, though Royal Star has more numerous and narrower tepals.

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Just a week ago the buds of Jane magnolia began to show a bit of color while the others were tight in bud, but today Jane has made little progress, and will not be in full flower for several days.p1010988

In past weeks I have noted attractive leaf buds opening, and today the Bottlebrush Buckeye (above) caught my eye. There are many wonders beyond flowers in the garden.p10109821

Squirrels forced me to give up on tulips years ago, as they delight in digging the bulbs for food. Several held on for a few years, but I am much too lazy to dig and store bulbs, or to replant every year, so I have only daffodils, hyacinths (in bloom today, above), and some minor bulbs, including Chionodoxa, Glory of the Snow (below).p1010965

Temperatures in the sixties might get the blooming schedule back on course over the next week. April will be a glorious month.

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Garden pics – March 21

Blooming plants are a bit late this season, though they are not bound by time schedules as most of us. Many early bloomers will range a couple weeks earlier or later through the years, and the cool, cloudy weather has pushed them later this year. If it warms up over the next week we’ll see some the flowering times of plants overlap that are usually weeks apart. Last year a cool late March delayed Redbuds blooming so that they began just a few days before the native Dogwoods, when the normal cycle is a couple weeks earlier.p1010893

My early daffodils are late, February Gold is just starting to show color. And the Royal Star magnolia, which will flower from time to time in late February, is just breaking bud. The Jane magnolia (below) will bloom at just about the same time in my garden this year, and it should be a week or more later.p1010927

I was visiting south of Fredericksburg, Virginia last week , and there was a notable difference. Flowering pears were popping into bloom, while thirty miles north the buds were just beginning to swell. I’m sure that inside the Beltway trees are in full bloom. Just a few degrees warmer will do that.

I suppose the official grand opening of Spring is announced with forsythia flowering. I have but one odd sort, ‘Kumson’ with contrasting veins on the leaves. I do not grow the common forsythia, not due to any snobbery, but because it is difficult to keep in bounds.forsythia_koreana_kumson1

Though my garden is fairly large I have little space for plants that need continuous pruning to keep a semblance of form. Variegated pussy willow is my lone concession to allowing a plant that is nearly impossible to control, and only because it is one of few that could tolerate living in a bog. My poor ‘Kumson’ forsythia struggles for its place in the garden and clearly does not share the vigor of the common form.p1010899


Though forsythia is a traditional harbinger of Spring, my first acquisition of the year is a shrub that blooms several weeks earlier and is a virtual unknown. The fragrant blooms of Edgeworthia are exceptionally beautiful. It is purported not to be quite hardy enough for my garden, but I’ll give it a protected area. Gardeners usually covet plants that aren’t hardy enough for them, and to have any chance for survival they must be planted in the Spring so that a vigorous root system can be established prior to Winters’ cold.

Every year some plants will disappoint and others will be so delightful that you wonder why you hadn’t noticed their beauty in past years. One tragedy in the garden is usually followed by a stunning success.

mahonia-beali-100This year the Mahonia beali are flowering very sparsely, and I haven’t a clue why. This will result in few of the grape-like berries that follow in another month. The birds will miss them.mahonia1

On the other hand, the blooms of Winter Sun mahonia were spectacular in late November and early December. I suppose it evens out. There will be so many flowers in another week that the mahonia will scarcely be missed, but Winter Sun in December is a treat because nothing else is blooming.

The Arnold’s Promise witch hazel is fading, its flowers lasting a week longer than normal with the cool temperatures. The flowers stalks of the hellebores are standing upright now, though the flowers face downward.

The leaves of Nandina domestica have suffered through the cold Winter with most leaves brown and dropping. They will not be clothed in green again until middle to late April, but then will be as good as ever. The other nandinas in the garden, Gulfstream, Harbor Dwarf, Firestorm, Moonbay, and Firepower have remained nearly evergreen, though the Firepower looks typically ratty until May. I grow it only as a reminder that I dislike it immensely. You are welcome to decide yourself, but for me there are better alternatives.p1010910

Okame cherry was showing but a hint of pink two weeks ago, but is in full splendor today. The flowers are short lived, as are all flowering cherries, always facing extremes in temperature, too warm or cold.

vinca1Vinca minor, or periwinkle, is a sturdy groundcover beginning to bloom now. Garden writers often scoff at periwinkle and pachysandra as too common, but they have gained popularity because they are outstanding plants. They frequently fight a difficult battle with tree roots to become established, and are worthy plants because they do this better than any other plants.p1010938

Two weeks ago the Andromeda, or Pieris, was just coming into bloom. Today, the early varieties are in full flower, and the later ones are ready to open in the next week. The bees have not begun to buzz around the pieris yet, but they will.

Cardinals have been especially active the past couple weeks, and soon the rest of the critters that hang out in the garden will be back from their Winter nap. This is an exciting time for gardeners, as each day presents a new blossom, a new bud, and a new challenge.p1010915

And leaf and flower buds are opening everywhere. The flower buds for the Lilac vulgaris (above) are beginning to open. The new leaves on the tree lilac (below) are just as delightful. Some wonders of the garden stand for all to see, some take more careful observation.p1010905

Walk through the Landscape nursery

There is much more to the landscape business than the design and installation process. The exciting part is planting and building the patios, decks, and gazebos. The background work is not nearly so interesting, but necessary to get the work done.

I wouldn’t dare bore anyone with a look over my shoulder on an average day in the office. No, nothing interesting about watching some bozo sitting behind a desk working a keyboard. But the workings of the nursery behind the landscape company might capture your attention.aerial2

As nurseries go this one is far larger than average at 23 acres. Many landscape companies have no area to stock plants and hardscape materials at all, but pick them up on a job-by-job basis. As one of the largest residential landscape installation companies in the country Meadows Farms dsc00855requires ready access to plants and materials, and an area for parking and loading more than seventy large trucks. The nursery also has extensive display gardens so that clients can view hardscape examples and plants in a landscaped setting.

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The nursery stocks plants from small perennials and groundcovers through trees grown in 100 gallon plastic containers that are over twenty feet tall. Plants are watered by a state-of-the-art automatic irrigation system, and large plants are watered with a drip system that has virtually no waste. Six greenhouses and two large shade structures protect plants from inclement weather.dscf00931

A large section of the nursery is devoted to hardscape materials, flagstone, and concrete pavers, as well as an inventory of more than one million pounds of path and wall stone. To move these heavy materials requires a fleet of skidloaders and forklifts. dscf0027a1

The landscape operations generate a lot of waste materials. Meadows Farms has been praised in national trade magazines for its recycling efforts. Excavated soil, rock, and concrete from sidewalks and patios that have been removed are recycled by equipment that screens and mixes organics to make topsoil, and crushes the concrete and rock to make gravel. Very little trash except plastic leaves the nursery.

Several employees are dedicated to the recycling program, but the nursery requires another ten or more to unload daily plant and hardgoods deliveries, and to prepare plants and materials for crews to load for delivery to customers the following day. With crews beginning in the morning and afternoon the nursery operates nearly twenty hours per day.

Two mechanics assure that trucks and equipment meet strict safety guidelines and are maintained in good running order. The shop has space for several trucks and a hydraulic lift that will raise a ten ton truck so a mechanic can safely work under it.pb180308

The Landscape office is two stories high with three large warehouse bays so Winter projects can be undertaken out of the weather. The second floor of the office is a large room used for design staff and nursery employee meetings, and is often used by the local nursery association for classes and meetings. The main office houses our planting and hardscape installation departments, grounds maintenance, and our customer service staff.

The office staff, managers, mechanics, and nursery crew work to ease the tasks of the foremen and crew installing landscapes every day. Though the nursery work may not be as exciting as the installation, it is just as important.

If you happen to be in the area, please stop in. You’re welcome to take a walking tour. We’ve made some major additions to the display gardens the past year, and will be adding more later in the Spring. I can’t imagine that there are better displays anywhere. It’s likely that I’ll put together a post later in the Spring to show them off, but pictures won’t tell the full story.

When good plants turn bad

Yikes! There are thugs out there. Plants that want to rob you of your garden.

This is not a debate about using native plants rather than foreign invaders. There are many fine native plants, but there are so many wonderful non-natives that it would be shameful to exclude them. I’ll try just about anything that looks good in my garden, and I’ve paid the price for some poor choices.

kudzu3To be clear, I don’t want to encourage using plants that have proven to be invasive. That is irresponsible, but invasive plant lists have become a political mess including plants that have little business being there. There are a handful of “invasive” plants that are amongst the more popular plants in the nursery business, and deservedly so.

I’ve had plenty of experience with plants that look good, sound good, but don’t behave in the garden. Often it takes considerable effort to banish these plants.

The worst experiences I’ve had have been with vines, though not the kudzu pictured above. When a gardener begins to run short on space he looks to expand vertically, with arbors, lattice, and trellises, and many vines are aggressive.

The lattice below my deck yearns for a plant that will cover it, but not try to take over, the perfect plant that grows to just the right size then stops. Of course, such a plant doesn’t exist, and I’ve had plenty that covered the lattice in a hurry with no intention of ever slowing down.

akebiaThe worst had to be Akebia, Chocolate vine. It has attractive foliage and interesting blooms, and it grew just fine, and grew, and grew. I chopped it back and back again, and it grew back with a vengence, threatening to cover the deck . And then it appeared on the other side of the deck twenty feet away, which I thought was kind of nice until I looked and there were hundreds of stems growing in that direction. I got the message and started a two year battle to get rid of it. I’m sure that there’s a good place for akebia, but on my deck wasn’t it.

clematis-111I’ve finally settled on Clematis montana rubens for the lattice. It has an aggressive habit for a clematis, but it’s very manageable, and is about as close to perfect for this spot as I think I’m going to get. I have other clematis, and wish that they were half as vigorous as montana rubens.  

The longest battle I’ve fought to be rid of a thug was with Wisteria. It was beautiful. I built a heavy duty arbor which was covered the first year by its rapid growth. Though I paid no attention to pruning guidelines said to encourge better flowering it was a prolific bloomer. However, rather than pruning to encourage flowers I was pruning for survival. And then the trunk strangled and splintered my arbor, and I realized the time had come.

A chainsaw and Roundup proved no match for this vine. It came back from the roots, and from seed, and before you know it you have ten or fifteen more growing about the garden. The wisteria has been gone for several years, but the fight goes on. I’m winning, but don’t feel confident enough to claim victory.

Others vines have offered mixed success. For a short time I had the nicest variegated Porcelainberry until it started seeding about, and had to go. Since then it’s become one of the more notorious invasives. By some good fortune the forest bordering my property isn’t covered over by this attractive thug.  

I’ve had a tussle or two with Ivy, but this is one “invasive” that I feel good about in my garden. The adult form that goes to seed is rarely seen, and never in my garden, so there’s no concern that it will escape. I have at least a handful of variegated and odd shaped leafed varieties growing here and there, and only once have I had to tame it to behave with its neighboring plants. I have no doubt that it can overwhelm a garden if given free reign, but the effort to keep it in line has been minor.

dsc005041Another vine with a bad reputation, but not so bad a bite, is Honeysuckle ‘Mardi Gras’. No doubt that some honeysuckles can be a scourge, but Mardi Gras is a delightful vine. It requires support as it does not have aerial roots, or tendrils to secure it as it climbs, but I have found that is not an overly aggressive grower, and is superb in bloom.  

Thuggish behavior is not limited to vines. I’ve had unfortunate experiences with grasses, bamboo, and trees.

I’ve seen that Miscanthus has escaped area gardens into the wild, though not widespread, but I had to fight for several years to rid my garden of black fountain grass, Pennisetem ‘Moudry’. Perhaps the most ornamental fountain grass, I believe that every seed germinated. Now, thank goodness, I am rid of this beast.

That bamboos can be notoriously invasive should not be a secret, but gardeners are endlessly intrigued by them, so what could be harmed by planting one over in the corner? Not the large yellow bamboo, but one of the cute variegated dwarf kinds. Now, intrigued no more, I’ve surrendered that corner, and a few others. I fear that this battle is too hopeless to fight.

But I’ve planted other bamboos with great success. The Fargesias are quite tame clumpers. Over five years mine has spread no more than a foot or two, and is a valued addition to the garden. I would recommend this plant to all, but I warn against any form of bamboo that is defined as a runner. Regardless of installing plastic or concrete barriers you will lose this race.

And alas, the end of my tragedies, and one I live with today, is the Golden Rain tree. A lovely tree of medium height with hanging yellow flowers, I am convinced that every seed (and there are thousands) germinates. The area beneath the golden rain becomes a carpet of seedlings, and the hard, round, black seeds roll into other parts of the garden for me to pull. I don’t believe that birds eat this seed since I have not witnessed seedlings outside my property, but there are so many other superb trees that there should be no need to live with one with such significant faults.

Through all these mistakes I am not discouraged. While each seemed a catastrophe at the time, I am undeterred in the pursuit of the next unexpected garden treasure. My advice is to turn to experienced hands to learn from their prizes, as well as their horrors.

Garden ponds in early Spring

There’s so much to do, and so little time. The easy part is planting and building, though not so easy at the time. Inspiration is likely the culprit, for motivation is easier in the doing than in maintaining.

Now is the time to pick up and clean up, and I fear every year that I’ve undertaken more in this garden than I can handle. But the work seems to get done a piece at a time, and by the time the Redbuds burst into bloom in several weeks all will be well, or well enough.

Spring cleanup of the ponds is the neediest task on the agenda. There are six ponds in the garden with varying requirements. A dirt bottomed, wet weather pond is partially leaf filled, but will get no attention. This pond was dug to dry the boggy bottom of the garden, and contains no fish, only cattails, iris, and other pond marginals. The leaves will break down soon enough, though with the jungle growing in and around the pond I rarely see the water.

p1010684I have already removed the net covering the pond in the front yard. By some miraculous turn I had the nets on before leaves fell in the Fall, and this pond was built in late Summer, so cleanup took less than an hour. The water is clear, so need not be drained and refilled.p10108771

The water in the big swimming pond is also clear. I hope never to need to drain and fill this 25,000 gallon pond, so it’s my priority in the Fall to install the net before the annual leaf drop. The fifty by fifty foot net is quite cumbersome to remove covered with wet leaves, so this will take some assistance.p1010873

There is a bit of string algae that grows each Winter in the shallow bog filter area, but this will take but a few minutes to remove. The iris, pseudoacorus, and variegated cattails must be cut back before new foliage emerges, but this is a quick task, albeit one that requires tall waterproof boots. With the warm weather last week the koi have awakened from their Winter of inactivity, much like myself.

If you’re interested in the story behind the swimming pond follow this link. I can barely bring myself to show photos of the mess that the pond is today, but the pictures below shows what will be in another month or so.

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Quite soon I will be floating on my little raft with koi swimming at my side, dodging dragonflies, and watching birds soar overhead.

(No, that’s not a large sea mammal, and yes, I am wearing shorts.)

This doesn’t sound so bad after all. Three ponds down, three to go.

The remaining ponds are not large, the largest being less than two hundred square feet, but they are beneath the forest’s edge, and bordered by every plant of this and that I could possibly fit in. So, they seem to accumulate every leaf and twig that drops within a four county area.

To clean these ponds, and to remove the large swimming pond net, requires assistance from my Meadows Farms pond crew, including my son who grew up with the ponds and is the lead foreman. I hope for a warm day, as working with water in chilly weather is not a pleasant chore..

Though the ponds were netted and not in nearly the condition as years when I am neglectful in netting in a timely manner, undoubtedly the water will need to be drained to clean the ponds to a reasonable degree.

The poor goldfish will be moved to a pail of water pumped from the pond while we spray the rock and gravel and pump out the bottom muck. With the muck removed and the rocks cleaned we will cut back the waterlilies, iris, acorus, and whatever else might have been planted there. The ponds with filters will require a thorough spray to clean the gunk, and pumps will be inspected and cleaned.

And then we will refill the water. Since the ponds are not hopelessly fouled, perhaps we’ll be able to salvage the water that we pump off the top into a clean pond so that I lose only a couple hundred gallons into the surrounding landscape. We shall see.

The goldfish are not dumped back into the pond, but must be slowly acclimated to the new water temperature. Once cupfuls of water have been exchanged to bring the temperature of the pail close enough to that of the pond we will reintroduce them back to their newly cleaned home.

The cleaned pond might remain a bit cloudy for a few days, but soon will be crystal clear. In an odd case there might be enough suspended solids in the water that we’ve stirred up that the filter pads will need to be rinsed in another week. This is a minor task.

In all, the three ponds will take bit longer than a half day to clean with the help of several assistants. For my ponds this will be the last significant time I will spend on maintenance for the year until the time comes to put the nets on in October. I expect that there will be a few outbreaks of string algae to deal with, and the filters might need a spray or two through the year.

Already this task seems well in hand with warm days forecast for this week. Afterward other chores await. Many perennials require cutting back and leaves have accumulated here and there that must be removed. A red maple from the native wood line has arched over the garden and must be removed. We’ll soon see if I can juggle a chainsaw and ladder.

These unpleasant tasks are a necessary prelude to a glorious Spring in the garden. Soon I will have photos of the delights that accompany the garden and ponds.

Screening plants

Today I’m taking off my gardening gloves, and putting on my Meadows Farms landscapers’ hat. None of the photos below are from my garden, but from displays in our nursery and from clients’ landscapes.

No doubt screening is a priority for most homeowners in developing their landscapes. Whether the goal is to give a backyard garden a sense of enclosure, or to hide an ugly or obtrusive view, there are a number of plants well suited to the task.

Consideration is needed to determine the correct plant for the area. Hedge type screens can range from chest high to well over fifty feet tall. A plant too short will never realize its intended purpose, and a plant too tall will overwhelm the gardener’s property.

Low screens – Hedgesdsc005941

The photo above is Schip laurel, Prunus laurocerasus “Schipkaensis”. Schip laurel grows fairly rapidly to about ten feet in height, and nearly as wide. It can be maintained as a hedge at almost any height. It has white flowers, but they are hardly of consequence. It is evergreen, hardy to below zero degrees, and adapts well to full sun or shady areas.

Schip laurel is not particular about soil type, but the area must not stay damp. Cherry laurels will not tolerate wet soils. They are untroubled by insects, but can suffer occasionally from a fungus called “shothole”, often resulting from overhead watering. This problem is most evident in the nursery, but can occur with less frequency in landscapes with automatic irrigation systems.

There are multiple selections of Schip laurel found in nurseries, one with a more spreading habit. In the trade we refer to the upright type most often used for screening as “West Coast” Schip laurel because it most commonly grown by Oregon growers. It is a vigorous grower and well suited as a low screen. It is susceptible to deer injury when severe infestations are present, but is not a favorite. The best way to gauge whether Schip laurel will work in your neighborhood is to see if there are existing hedges nearby.

Late Fall planting of Schip laurel is not recommended as they are slow to establish roots and will experience foliage burn or death from dry Winter cold.dsc005951

Another common low screen is the Common boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, which is often referred to as American boxwood. The naming game, particuarly with common names, can get quite confusing as this plant is called English boxwood on the west coast.

Common or American boxwood can grow to twenty feet tall and about the same spread. There are numerous selections with the one grown by Oregon growers having a more upright and faster growing habit.

Boxwood are tough plants in sun or part shade, with outstanding resistance to drought, but can be intolerant of damp soils. Boxwood are extremely resistant to deer.

Proper pruning technique is important to avoid routine shearing that can create a dense outer shell of foliage that invites disease. A boxwood hedge can easily be maintained at any height.dsc005931

Another popular hedging plant for full sun is the yew. This photos show Hicks yew, Taxus media “Hicksii’, which is a relatively narrow upright growing variety. There are a number of yews that  will work well as hedges. All are extremely drought and pest tolerant, although deer seem to cherish them.  

Medium screens

dsc005961‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae are quite useful as a narrow medium height screen in full sun. They can be planted close to a property line fence to preserve yard space, and will grow to fifteen feet. Deer problems almost require that they be planted within a fenced enclosure.holly-nellie-steve1

‘Nellie Stevens’ holly is one of the stalwarts of the landscape industry in sun or shade. It is an exceptional, dependable plant that can wear many hats, but is outstanding as a medium height screen. This evergreen grows to nearly twenty feet in height, and roughly half as wide, and features bright red Fall berries that stand out against its dark green leaves.

Nellie Stevens are quite tolerant of pests, but can occasionally be troubled by deer.  

 

Tall screens

cypress-leyland-new1Leyland cypress are well known for their extremely rapid growth habit in sunny landscapes, and can reach over sixty feet tall, though it is rare to find plants approaching that height in the mid Atlantic region. Homeowners need to be aware that a tall screen can tower two or three times taller than their house. Leyland cypress need plenty of room to grow, so are most appropriate for property lines well away from the house.

Leylands are fairly easy to grow, though they are slow to establish roots and often experience problems with late Fall planting. Bagworms can be a problem, as well as occasional deer injury. arb-gr-giant1 

Green Giant arborvitae have become a more popular choice for tall screens because they are much more resistant to deer damage, and have a fast growth rate nearly comparable to Leyland Cypress. They are also more tolerant of dry or slightly damp doil conditions.

Why be limited to evergreens? There are many trees and shrubs that create effective screens, even when their leaves drop in the Fall. Oftentimes we do not use the decks and patios in Winter that require screening from neighbors, and many deciduous plants can add flowers and still provide an adequate visual buffer. I have found that a plant that inteferes with an unwanted view can be as effective a blocking it completely. In many cases a shade or flowering tree can be a desirable screen from a neighbor, and can give more value in height per dollar.

My favorite plants

These are some of my favorites in the garden, both trees, shrubs, perennials, and tropicals.dsc00965

‘Ivory Silk’ tree lilac is a delightful tree with long lasting fragrant blooms and a full rounded leaf canopy. It grows a bit too large for small gardens. In contrast to other lilacs it seems quite happy to grow as a single trunk tree with no sucker growth. There are no apparent pest problems.p1010620

In this photo are two favorites, the Full Moon Japanese maple, with yellow leaves, and black leafed elephant ears. This elephant ear grew so vigorously that it was out of scale with the maple, but with some growth by the maple this year order will be restored. I plant an assortment of elephant ears and bananas in the ground, in water, and in pots throughout the garden.p1010721

Heptacodium, the Seven Son tree, has quickly become one of my favorites. White blooms in August are followed by bracts, or fruit, or whatever, that you see in this photo.p1010731

I don’t particularly care for azaleas, but the Encore azaleas have grown on me with their multi season bloom. While they do not flower through the Summer in my northern Virginia garden like they do along the Gulf coast, this picture was taken in late October. There are numerous buds waiting to bloom that were nipped by freezing temperatures a week later.p1010740

Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ has unusual November flowers and a more compact growth habit than the early Spring blooming Mahonia beali. The stickers on its leaves are just as lethal, sure to draw blood, so be careful not to plant next to a walkway or patio. dsc00133

Japanese iris are great plants for the shallow edges of a garden pond or for a wet area. dsc00513

The Red Knockout Rose is a great flowering shrub. Many people fear roses are high maintenance, but the Knockouts are practically no maintenance. The hype for Knockout roses is understated in my opinion. They are an exceptional plant with blooms almost nonstop from May through November.pierisflamingsilver11

Just look at the foliage colors of ‘Flaming Silver’ Pieris japonica. How could this not be a great plant? And it blooms too. It seems to be a magnet for lacebug, but otherwise is an exceptional plant. 061

The fernleaf Japanese maple has outstanding Fall color, and is a nice spreading small tree.dogwood-white-41

There is no better tree than our native dogwood. Spring blooms cover the tree, late Summer berries often persist into the Winter, and beautiful red Fall foliage.  dsc00019

Nandina domestica is a graceful shrub with multi season interest. It will often have red Fall color, and the berries persist through the Winter. There are a number of varieties depending on the space you can allow.  dsc00303

Ostrich fern is at its best when the new leaves are unfurling, but it is an outstanding plant that will slowly spread into open areas, in particular when the areas are damp. dsc00527

Globosa or Montgomery Spruce are dwarf blue spruce that will work in most gardens. However, they are not quite as dwarf as many expect. I have one that is over six feet tall and even wider. Don’t crowd them so you can fully see their beauty.dsc005321

‘Silver Cloud’ Redbud is just as colorful in leaf as in bloom, maybe more. From across the garden it looks like it’s always in bloom. It fades a bit through the Summer, but is still very attractive.

There are many other plants that are favorites, sometimes for a day, or a week or two, and then not for awhile. As they pop out at me I’ll be sure to get a photo or two.