What are the most perfect plants you have? Here are the guidelines: These are plants that one just puts in the right place, lets get established, then enjoys.
They must be perfect in form and shape naturally. They do not require much attention to look good. They must look good, adding something to the garden both in flower and out of flower. They must be well-behaved - not run rampant over their friends. They must be easy to care for - not persnickity about their care in your garden. For instance, these plants do not need special fertilizers and are not too difficult to protect from pests or diseases.
Perhaps they would not be perfect in everyone's garden, but they are perfect in yours. Post your photos of your perfect plants, along with what praises you sing of their perfection.
I will begin this appreciation of the perfection of certain plants by posting this photo of Hosta 'Sagae'. This is the most beautiful hosta I've seen. It's currently 4 feet tall, with leaves like leather. I protect it from slugs when it's first budding out, and that's it. It just stays beautiful until it freezes.
Corokia cotoneaster. This is a shrub that adds interest all year round with it's cool twisty branches, small, open form, brownish leaves, and petite yellow flowers. I've had this one for at least 5 years. It has survived even last year's winter and apparently is never bothered by pests, even the dreaded vole. I've never even pruned it.
And while I'm at it, these New Zealand sedges are just about perfect, too. I have a couple of varieties that seed , but they are easy to control and I generally have places for the seedlings.
No trouble with aphids on the lupines. I think bc they are usually done blooming by the time the aphids come around to my house in July/aug. But I could have trouble this year, since everything is blooming so late. (I never had probs with slugs before either, bc my vegetable garden is in such an open sunny area, but now had slugs this year bc it has been so wet I suppose).
I'm dreaming about that hosta 'Sagae'. I think I have to have one. I agree---it is so perfect. It makes me think of being out in a woodland fairy land or something. It also makes me think of the giant skunk cabbages (which I love, despite their name/smell) out in the woods. The corokia is also awesome. And the dwarf yellow barberry---I just put one in my friend's front yard bed yesterday. We worked on it all day yesterday, and these are the results. I'm a pink/purple/white/yellow flower girl, but my friend wanted warm colors with a tropical flair---and I'm a new fan. I'm so proud of what we came up with---you can see in this pic how that yellow barberry really shines in this bed. We used cocoa shells for mulch to add to that tropical feeling. Lots of interesting plants, and it will fill out beautifully by August b/c we filled in with lots of annuals. (pineapple sage, coleus, impatiens, monkey flowers). It's a partial sun garden. My purpose in posting it here is to highlight the gorgeous golden barberry (along with that red orange one, too)--you may end up seeing this pic in another thread at some point. Do you have any experience with putting in ornamental ginger in your garden? (sorry--off topic there) We put one in---it will flower orange in August. Supposed to grow 6 feet tall, so it was kind of a risk, but she wanted it. Our favorite part are the stepping stones. The kids love them---and in a house with kids, they protect the plants!
Euonymus alatus (burning bush). I know these are often over-used (and over-pruned), but I find them perfect in a mixed shrub border. No pests, no pruning, good shape, fresh spring green foliage, flowers and berries, and the glorious red color in the fall. It is also dense enough to crowd out weeds at its feet. I do think they look tortured when pruned back hard - if you just leave them to grow on their own, they are a very handsome shrub.
I just weeded my lupine, which are bedraggled and sad looking. Slugs I'm guessing. Heavenly fragrance. Definitely a keeper, but not on my perfect list.
Real geraniums, on the other hand, are pretty close. I have several varieties growing under my grapes. They are pest-free, spread out nicely without being thugs, bloom over a long period of time, can be cut back and come again, and some even have nice fall color.
I love heuchera!
Nice color most of the year,flowers that the hummers love, slugs don't eat them. Only down side is the weevil on the other thread bad luck plants. Oh and in the spring you can cut the tops of and root then share with your friends.
Kosk, that bed is going to be great! Love the colors. I have no luck with ginger in my yard. I've tried several times to no avail as i don't have enough sun or heat to do it justice. My aphids are already here, too.
Bonehead, ditto on the burning bush, and the pruning as well. I love that shrub. Definitely on the 'perfect plant' list.
Springcolor, I agree about most heuchera, but not all. I have to say that some of them just seem to straggle along in my yard, but the ones who do well are real show stoppers. Same with the heucherellas. This large brown heuchera definitely made my list. I don't know where it came from, I think it seeded itself, but I just love it and it's almost a 4 season plant.
Bonehead, forgot to say there are some geraniums I agree are just perfect. Johnson's blue is one. I have a pink one that runs like crazy, so it's not very perfect. I also have 'splish splash', but it isn't on my list because it gets so large and floppy, and really only provides interest when it's blooming. Maybe I have it in the wrong place. It's already about 30" tall. Geranium phaem 'samobor' (maybe it's spelled right, maybe it isn't) would be perfect since the leaves are awesome foliage, but it gets tall and scraggly and I have to cut it back more than once each season. It's already waiting to be cut back this year. 'Cut back' = work.
Most of the dwarf conifers are on my list of perfect plants. I love their shapes and colors, and the way they stay small so they don't take over a bed.
Gotta put this out there, nothing, as far as I am concerned beats the splendid regalness of the Trachyocarpis fortuni or Chinese windmill palm. The last couple of winters has been tough around here and some are showing the stress and thank god are recovering. But this is my oldest, about 10 years old and wasn't fazed by the tough winters. Love the gnarly bloom stalks.
Gotta agree about that palm. If only they survived in my yard. I've tried twice and lost them to winters, even with protection, and I'm at sea level! It's likely I don't get enough sun for them to do very well. I'm envious of that palm!
I'd have to say, my little Rock daphne, she's so cute and compact and her blooms (sadly past right now) are SO fragrant, you can smell them from several feet away. I never water, fertilize or do ANYthing to her and she just stays in her own little spot and each year is getting a little bigger. I would plant many more of her if she were less expensive. I would definitely swear by her though. If she can grow here, maybe she could grow anywhere? ( I should say, if I can grow her, probably anyone can!)
That IS very cute, and perfect! I agree about daphnes, if they like one's yard. I have three large ones that do very well. I also have one from Mt. Tahoma nursery that I keep in a pot by the back door. It has the most incredible fragrance. I'm afraid to plant it out, since it's doing well in the pot.
To be forthright, I admit to being a bit perplexed pondering the idea of anything perfect in my garden, though I would like to come up with some plants to share in this arena. Sometimes things I thought were perfect, the following season or year reveal some difficulty. So I make no promise that anything I mention might become imperfect at some future point. That said, wandering my yard, I notice a few really easy and still beautiful ones that have required very little care.
Helianthemem: low growing, gray-green leaf, pretty little flowers sort of like a miniature rose, bloom over a long time period starting in spring and continuing on and off through the summer. I have them in pink, orange, red, and yellow in various locations. They don't need much water, keep the weeds at bay, and are cheerful looking without needing shearing. the tags say they do, but I have never done it and they still look good a year or two later.
Trumpet lily: These have not needed staking for me. The flowers are dramatic and provide a nice contrast to my other, smaller flowers on various shrubs and perennials. I have yellow and orange, but they come in white and pink also. There isn't much work to cutting down the stalk, when it has died back in the winter. Planting initially required getting gravel into the planting hole so the voles wouldn't get them, but this appears to have worked and wasn't difficult. A single clump creates a focal point.
I love my gigantic snowball viburnum. I think it's perfect. The number of bouquets I give away every year from it is amazing. Green blossoms for a month. Then white blossoms for a month. Then SNOW! On my fairy garden, which is situated underneath it. No maintenance required. Except you need a huge space for it. Ours is about 12 feet tall x 12 feet wide.
In defense of foxgloves: In my yard they bloom gradually for a month. Deer stay away from them. They self sow. They often put up a second, small spire in August. They are happy in full sun, partial sun, or full shade. Take your pick! They are perfect in my eyes...
I am adding ferns to my list, although they don't add anything in the winter. IN the spring they have those dainty little fronds emerging, and then they continue to add texture and form to the garden, and sometimes color, until the freezing weather hits. The native sword ferns add something all year, even in the winter. The only thing I ever do for them is cut the dead fronds off once a year. After that, nothing. And bugs never bother them, either.
I almost put trumpet lilies on my list, but then I realize that I do have to stake them in my yard plus protect them from slugs. but they are so glorious I am not unwilling to do some extra work for them.
I love the snowball viburnums. The size of yours has me a little worried, though. I can tell that both of mine are going to be too close to their neighbors and will either have to be moved or pruned a lot, taking away their edge of perfection in my yard. Just goes to show that a perfect plant for one person is not one for another, especially when the other plants thing too close together.
Coppertina & Diablo are on my "must-have" list too.
Diablo is the perfect backdrop for a white-and-black garden.
Unfortunately, lupines are slug magnets here in the Coast Range.
You know, when I was complaining about short-lived digitalis, that may be because I only grew D. ambigua, a delicate woodland variety. I notice that the wild foxglove here are tall, sturdy, long-lived & lovely.
I love both physocarpus and all of the sambucus i know, except for the variegated sambucus. I had one established when we moved into this house. After several years of whacking it back many times per season, I finally removed it and didn't look back. I can't count lupines or foxglove as 'perfect' in my garden. The lupines get attacked by aphids all the time and their foliage, which could be really nice, just looks ratty.
Rodgersia, tho I am too far from the garden right now to go for a photo.
Large heavily textured leaves make a visual statement. Come fall, they disappear without cutting back. In spring they return, only slightly wider than the year before.
Along these lines, I was a little bit down this week about the weather & my b'friend wanted to cheer me up so told me to charge myself a little gift to his credit card (remember he lives two time zones away so couldn't cheer me up in person). He was probably thinking along the lines of a big bouquet, but I'm thinking landscape moolah.
So ... if you had, say, $100 to spend that was totally discretionary, what would you get for your garden?
The first thought that comes to mind is one of those weepy, silvery topiaries I've seen that might be an 'Atlas' juniper (?)
I would definitely go for a nice shrub or tree. Japanese maple would be nice but some varieties really have to be pruned to look their best, especially the weeping varieties. I see so many of them that look like they are short women, bent over, wearing a heavy red woolen skirt that goes to the ground. Not a good look.
One of my most perfect plants, my bay tree, appears to be suffering some branch die back this year. I have yet to identify why. I have healthy growth on much of the plant, but I keep having to cut off dead stuff on the other side. I hope I figure it out because I love this little tree. Fresh bay leaves are the best.
I'm not a fan of weeping anything (reminds me too much of our drizzly weather), but I do agree that there are some gorgeous J. maples out there - so many different forms, and being maples they are pretty hardy to our area.
Yeah, I keep meaning to take pics of the used car lot and the 4-lane road that goes past my manufactured home park.
If I had infinite time and energy, I could probably find something organic to scrounge creativly, like garbage from restaurants. Right now the 7-11 and municiple biosolids sound right for focusing my attention on - along with 99 million other garden tasks also over due.
I keep telling myself to focus on the most important things first, but my self doesn't like being told what to do on days off.
SK, there may well be a reason the previous owners only left daffs -- might be the only thing the critters left alone. There are some lovely daffs and other deer-resistant bulbs to be had as well, although I'm always impressed with big swaths of plain ol' King Alfreds in the spring.
here's a recommendation for tulip bulbs, pretty as they are: in the PNW, plant them underneath something that will protect them from the spring rain. Mine never hold up more than a couple of days otherwise. Also wind. Lots of wind in the spring. Bear it in mind when choosing varieties.
If you want to naturalize tulips, you need to plant them deeply (in addition to choosing those that are most likely to come back). Often people plant them too shallow and that's the reason they don't come back.
Plus, your comment on choosing the right tulip to come back is very wise. So often we go for the awesome ones that only look really great for one year. Second year is okay. Third year, horrible. I read somewhere that you should treat tulips as an annual. Seems like thats a bit over the top, but my tulip experiences haven't been too far off that mark. Finally, the deer think they are candy.
Corey..my past home had a high water table and of course a lot of rain..tulips are possible but I would not cover them. Just make sure that drainage is good and they should do fine. I found the new varieties (peony looking kind),seemed to gather water during the spring rains and topple over.Heavier rains will spot or bruise the petals too. As pretty as they are I would get standard variety tulips.
Debating if I should put any in at my new house.They are apparently deer candy...:(
By adequate drainage I meant less clay (I have pretty heavy clay at my place). They don't require 'sharp' drainage, I don't think. Placing them under a tree that absorbed excess moisture and/or in an area at the top of or midway down a hill or rise where the water won't sit would also be a way to assure that the bulbs didn't sit in water.
Bea, they are definitely deer candy at my house. Raccoons, dogs, mountain beaver, etc. also seem to like them. :-)
Thanks, both of those help: "standard varieties" and "less clay".
When I put in other bulbs (last fall was tyhe first I planted any bulbs), I took "drainage" to heart and amended one bed MUCH more than any other bed I've made. I think most people would still call it "heavy clay soil", but in my yard, that's :"unusually well-draining". And that one is raised at least 12" above grade.
My only other "bulb bed" was not amended as well or as deepely. Even though it sits at the highest point of a slight rise, it has poorer drain age and those bulbs did much less well.
It think my main varmint species is squirrels, digging up bulbs Thai chili pepper flakes and powder may have dissuaded them a little, but the CHICKEN WIRE WEIGHED DOWN WITH BRICKS, surrounded by paving stones or a concrete sidewalk may also have had some deterrent effect.
If you consider that tulips are native to Turkey and the Himalayas it will help you know what conditions they like. Cold winters, dry summers. So they are not going to enjoy winter wet without drainage, and they don't need water in the summer. Spring rains help them grow, but we have extensive spring rains and wind and their petals get battered easily. The species tulips are lovely and they naturalize when given the right conditions. They do well under fir trees. Rodents do appear to adore all kinds of tulips. I love the Princess Irene tulips. Not too tall, they come back year after year, and the color is a rich tangerine. Lovely.
I have Brunnera in more clay soils and in my front beds, which the previous owners, builder amended with sand. It seems to grow faster in the better soils, but it's definitely holding its own this spring in the sandy beds. I think that's because of all the water. It seems to be able to take some sun as long as it has ample water. I love those little blue flowers.
I dug up several volunteers from a community pea patch in North Seattle this spring. They look like Brunnera, except that the plant reaches a height of 4 feet or so. Is it a species Brunnera or is it all the Zoo Doo they use? I don't know. Somebody told me that it might be Borage, but the flower is different than the Borage I've seen . . .
All my transplants are doing well, after a brief period of histrionics. We'll see what happens . . .
I moved a brunnera (Jack Frost) from EWa a few years back and it flourished here (PS, east exposure). I've now split it out again and put it in a damper spot (PS, north esposure) where it is languishing. Bugs or slugs are decimating it and it has not put on nearly the bulk that the parent plant has. Strange how different our micro-climates can be within our own yards. I'll give it some time to be reacclimated.
Isn't that lovely? I love those natural 'gardens' best of all. This year one of the paths leading to the docks down in Tacoma was lined with all kinds of grasses that nature planted. There were so many beautiful textures and colors represented, no person could have planned it better. Now they have gone to seed and look just as good in a different way.
Yesterday at Farmington Gardens, I saw a new-to-me ninebark cultivar called "Little Devil" that looked really good. Anyone have experience with this variety? I really want to re-create my black & white border from Illinois but am having trouble settling on a sunny spot where 'Diablo' could have enough room as the backdrop.
Nice Pee Gee Summer! I too love the magnificence of the shape and texture of this one. Grows like a Weed (I thought Pee Gee meant Pee Wee) READ THE LABLE STEVE.
I have also considered this one here because all of the ninebarks do well here. Just haven't gotten it yet. Love the color of the leaf and flower!