Archive | April, 2011


29 Apr

Persimmon, fruit bearing deciduous tree to 25 feet in height, dwarf varieties available, can by kept to any height through pruning. Many varieties are self fertile, fruit ripens in the fall once the leaves have dropped, part to full sun, requires some summer water when young.

Native to Japan and China, persimmons have  a handsome branch pattern and are one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use; makes a good small shade tree or espalier. Leaves are light green when new, maturing to dark green. Foliage turns yellow or orange in fall. After leaves drop brilliant orange-scarlet, sweet fruits emerge.

There are a number of dwarf and semi-dwarf persimmon trees, including the Nightingale variety. Persimmons can be grafted on dwarf root stocks, and do well when grown in large pots.  Louisiana State University suggests that persimmons do best in partial sun or partial shade. The persimmon fruit can range in flavor from flat and astringent to sweet, depending on the variety.


Mock Orange

24 Apr

Mock Orange (Philadelphus virginalis), deciduous shrub, loos open growth habit 6-8 ft. in height with equal spread, very fragrant white blossoms in spring to early summer, reddish bark, full sun to part shade, somewhat drought tolerant, good informal screen plant, deer resistant.

Grown for white or cream-colored, usually fragrant flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. Blossoms are four petaled, typically 1–2 in.wide; they range from single to fully double. Plants are generally large and vigorous, with fountainlike form. Oval, 2–4-in.- long leaves (typically medium green in color) are arranged in pairs along the stems. Prune every year just after bloom, cutting out oldest wood and surplus shoots at base. To rejuvenate, cut to the ground. Taller types are striking planted in lawns and as background and corner plantings; smaller kinds can be used near foundations or planted as low screens or informal hedges. Buy this plant in bloom to check for best fragrance. Not fussy about soil type but must have good drainage.

Philadelphus coronarius

Philadelphus coronarius

From southern Europe, Caucasus. Strong-growing old favorite to 10–12 ft. tall and wide. Clusters of especially fragrant, 1 1/2-in., white to cream flowers.

Philadelphus lewisii

Native to western North America; the state flower of Idaho. Fountain-shaped, loosely branched shrub 4–10 ft. tall, typically broader than high. Satiny single, white flowers to 2 in. across. Tolerates some aridity.

Hakone Grass

22 Apr

Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra), winter deciduous, 12 – 18 in., equal or greater spread, slow spreading, bright emerald green foliage, soft, light brown flowers in summer, light shade, regular water, deer resistant.

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ is a gorgeous, low-growing grass with bright, golden-yellow foliage with a narrow green stripe.  The long arching blades create a marvelous flowing effect.  In a breeze the grass rustles, undulates and sways giving the effect of cascading water.  It’s vivid colour is sure to brighten any shaded area.

This is a slow spreading grass but never invasive or a threat to neighbouring plants.  In fact you will wish that it grew faster!  Also known as Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa is best grown in a cool garden location.  Partial shade is ideal however it will also do well in full shade.  Most importantly keep this grass out of the hot afternoon sun particularly in more southerly climates.  Hakone Grass prefers fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.  It will not grow well (if at all) in heavy clay, poorly drained or very dry soil.

Hakone Grass is a fantastic companion for virtually any shady garden perennial.  Try it with a blue hosta, or one trimmed with gold.  For an eye-popping combination grow Hakone beside a dark leafed Heuchera.  Brighten up your traditional green garden with a big splash of gold.  This grass works well with all the traditional shade plants such as ferns, astilbe, bleeding hearts and cimicifuga to name just a few.

Hakone Grass is also the perfect plant for containers.  Add some pizzazz to your containers!  Just imagine this gorgeous grass cascading over the edge of your urn or patio planter.  If you garden in a colder climate the container garden is likely the best environment for growing this lovely grass.

Golden Hakone grows 12-18″ tall and about 18-24″ wide.  It is hardy Zone 5 – 9.

New Zealand Tea Tree

14 Apr

New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium), evergreen tree or shrub 8-15 ft. in height, twisted trunk and branches, red, pink or white flowers spring/summer, dark green foliage, full sun, drought tolerant once established, deer resistant.

Native to Australia, New Zealand. Called tea tree because Captain Cook brewed a tea from the leaves and gave it to his crew as a scurvy preventive. Substantial and useful plants year round; soft and casual looking (never rigid or formal). Most make a display of five-petaled single flowers (somewhat like tiny wild roses) along stems among the small leaves. Petals surround a hard central cone or cup that matures to a woody seed capsule that hangs on for a long time after the petals drop.

Compact Strawberry Tree

14 Apr

Compact Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’), evergreen tree or shrub to 8-12 ft. in height, single or multi-trunked, clusters of white flowers fall and winter, large orange/red/yellow fruit, full sun to part shade, drought tolerant, prune to expose interesting bark, deer resistant, resistant to oak root fungus.

All have ornamental bark, clusters of little urn-shaped flowers, decorative edible fruit, handsome foliage.

Provide good drainage, especially if plant receives regular water.

Thin growth of all types as needed.

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Slow to moderate growth to 8–35 ft.with equal spread. Normally has basal suckers, stem sprouts.

Can thin branches to make open-crowned tree, or plant several and leave unpruned to make screen. Trunk and branches have rich red-brown, shredding bark; tend to become twisted and gnarled in age.

Dark green, handsome, red-stemmed leaves are oblong and 2–3 in. long. Clusters of small white or greenish white, urn-shaped flowers and round, 3/4 in. fruit, yellow (young) and red (mature), like strawberries in texture, appear at the same time in fall and winter; fruit is edible but usually mealy and bland in flavor. Individual plants may produce tasty fruit.


The plant will seldom exceed 10 ft. high

True Myrtle

14 Apr

True Myrtle (Myrtus communis), evergreen shrub or tree, moderate growth to 5-6 ft. in height, taller when grown as a tree, 4-5 ft. spread, sweet scented white flowers in summer, foliage is aromatic when bruised, full sun to part shade, drought tolerant, deer resistant.

From the Mediterranean. Rounded plant is bulky and dense but has fine-textured foliage. Reaches 5 to 6 ft. high and 4 to 5 ft.wide (as much as 15 ft. by 20 ft. in old age). Glossy bright green leaves are pointed, 2 in. long, pleasantly aromatic when bruised or brushed against. White, sweet-scented, 3/4-in. flowers with many stamens bloom in summer followed by bluish black, 1/2-in. berries.

Takes any soil, but good drainage is essential.

Makes a good informal hedge or screen, requiring little or no pruning; as a specimen shrub, it can be selectively pruned to reveal limb structure. Withstands shearing into formal hedges and topiary.


Australian Fuchsia

14 Apr

Australian Fuchsia (Correa), evergreen shrub, moderate growth to 2-4 ft. in height, 2-3 ft. spread or wider depending on variety, fuchsia-like flowers in pink, white, red, orange and carmine rose, full sun to part shade, tolerates some drought, deer resistant, long blooming.

These Australian natives may resemble fuchsia in their flower form, but in all other ways they are far from fuchsialike. Plants range from low growing to tall, are usually dense and spreading. Roundish, 1-in. leaves, densely felted underneath; gray or gray-green color contrasts subtly with other grays, distinctly with dark greens. All are valued for their long flowering season, usually late fall into spring. Small (1/2 to 3/4-in.) flowers hang from branches like little bells; they are individually handsome but not showy. Need fast drainage; do well in poor, rocky soil. Easy to kill with kindness (overwatering, overfertilizing). Should not get reflected heat from wall or pavement. Use as ground cover on banks or slopes. Attractive in large pots placed where flowers can be enjoyed close up.

Correa pulchella
Grows 2 to 2 1/2 ft. high, spreading as wide as 8 ft. Leaves green above, gray-green below; flower color ranges from light pink to reddish orange. Most widely grown correa in Northern California.

‘Dusky Bells’ (‘Carmine Bells’)
Low growing (2 to 2 1/2 ft.), spreading as wide as 8 ft. Deep red flowers.