If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you have probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of pollinator-friendly landscaping. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds are responsible for reproduction in many of our favorite landscape and food plants, and they’re fun to watch. Nothing says “summer” to me like watching a garden buzzing with all kinds of pollinators. But summer isn’t the only season these critters are out and about, and one of the keys to ensuring that they maintain healthy populations is to make sure that we’re planting pollinator-friendly plants for the full season.
Fragrant sumac is an adaptable, low-maintenance shrub perfect for even the toughest situations. It thrives even planted in clay, surrounded by asphalt, and battered and dried by full sun. It spreads to form colonies that retain slopes and block out weeds. As long as you don’t plant it in a bog, it will hold the line and even bring some spring and fall surprises just about anywhere.
While we haven’t had a lot of huge snow events this year, almost every week there’s enough of a risk of snow or ice to put down road salt at least once. Over time, this salt can splash onto parking lot and roadside plants enough to damage the foliage, or temporarily shock the soil with too much salt for the plant roots. Salt draws water out of plant cells and leaves them looking burnt and stunted. In cases of soil salt accumulation, sometimes it just looks like a plant is smaller and struggling compared to the same plant a few feet further back from the street.
There are many kinds of hydrangeas, and we love all of them for the landscape. Yet it seems like the blue and pink mopheads and the dramatic Annabelle hydrangeas seem to take the spotlight when we think of hydrangeas. Possibly the least well-known, but still very widely used, is the panicle hydrangea, known for its excellent winter hardiness, strong branches, and mid-to-late summer cone-shaped flowers.
Winter is upon us, and the world outside our windows has become a lot more grey and dreary. When we approach a new design, it is not at all unusual for the client to request that we include plants that will look interesting all year round. For most, their mind will automatically turn to evergreens, but there are so many more plants that can light up the winter landscape in other ways.
After the bright lights and colors of the holiday season it can be nice to settle down with a little subtle color left in the landscape after the lights come down. Close cousins coralberry and snowberry are great picks for low-key, hazy winter interest. It's definitely not a plant for a formal garden, but if you have more of a natural style or if you're looking to add a little something special to a wooded edge, this may be just the thing you need.
Evergreen plants are the backbone of designs built to stun in all seasons. They provide the reliable structure to keep things from looking bare and help highlight the spots of color and texture that other plants like beautyberry and paperbark maple provide. We love to use boxwoods for this purpose. They do much better in our soils than a lot of other evergreens, and their ability to be sheared or grown naturally allow us to make all kinds of interesting artistic decisions with them.