Help me select plants!?

laurell(8 - Washington)August 24, 2012

I'm doing phase 2 of juniper removal and I think I finally have my basic layout figured out but I need some help selecting plants with complimenting textures and colors. Everything needs to be drought tolerant once established and be able to withstand FULLFULLFULL sun. The area gets baked and receives NO shade. It's on a small hill with fine gravely sand if that makes any difference, though we'll be bringing in several yards of compost for amendments.

I have pretty much settled on a Weeping Cedar of Lebanon for my focal point. Additional plants that I intend to use in this area are artemesia, lavender, and rosemary. Colors I'm trying to stick with are grey-green to green (less yellow)for foliage and whites, purples & blues for flowers

Here is what I need as far as plant selection suggestions.

*3-4ft tall evergreen something for screening purposes. Can be columnar (I don't mind putting in a few), but can also be rounded.

*Smallish broadleaf tree - I had either a desert fig or a sweet bay laurel in mind but am open to suggestions

*10ft(ish) tall and wide shrub. I was thinking of a Ceanothus of some sort but am not hard and fast on that.

*Groundcover of some sort, once again was thinking of ceanothus, but I'm not sure

*A few other plants to fill in here & there.

I am looking for a range of texture and color in foliage. A range in bloom color I'm sure will come and really they are secondary for me.

A few other plants that I've seen at local nurseries that I like are:


Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Silver Beauty Boxleaf Honeysuckle

Dwarf Siberian Spruce

Blueberry Muffin Indian Hawthorn

Weeping Norway Spruce

Weeping Atlas Blue Cedar

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Laurel, just let me offer a couple of opinions :-)

Dwarf Alberta spruces are as common as dirt around here and with minimal distinction. They are also very prone to spider mites in our dry summers and can be heavily disfigured by mite damage. I'd suggest any one of of the zillions of cultivars of Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) as a possible substitute. They have a distinctly Asian air about them that seems extremely well suited to a PNW garden.

Of the boxleaf honeysuckles, 'Silver Beauty' is perhaps the least vigorous selection. I'd look instead at 'Lemon Beauty' which is a robust plant with gorgeous coloration.

And skip Indian hawthorns altogther. They inevitably develop a very unsightly leaf spot here if they survive at all. Try instead Escallonia 'Newport Dwarf'.

Other choices you might want to consider:
Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' or 'Twist of Lime'
Choisya 'Aztec Pearl'
Fothergilla 'Blue Mist'
Cornus alba 'Bailhalo' (Ivory Halo redtwig dogwood)
Senecio greyii
Berberis 'Concorde' or 'Bagatelle'
'Blue Star' juniper - I know you just removed a bunch of junipers but this is one of the most handsome and well-behaved of that ilk and stays very compact with a great foliage color.

The bay laurel is tempermental in our wet and sometimes cold winter climate and the fig needs a good reflected heat location as well (plus can get darn big!!). I'd consider Arbutus unedo 'Compactum' for an evergreen choice or any one of the scads of Japanese maples that flourish here for a deciduous offering and lots of foliage color.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 1:59PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Wonderful GardenGal! Thanks!

I saw a Unedo @ Wells in Medina(and also more @Flower World) but figured I'd pass on it as last time I was wanting one I remember getting negative feedback regarding them pushing our zone boundaries. I'm near the convergence zone in the Lynnwood/Bothell area and we usually make it a few degrees cooler than Seattle does and I don't want a $100 plant dying on me. But thinking back the person who poo-pooed it was a notorious negative nancy, so perhaps it would do fine...

Regarding the Abelias, I have them on my longish list, but would prefer something less reddish, as I have a Nandina that I put in last year but find that the red clashes with the other colors going on in the yard already. Perhaps I'll keep an eye out for a different color toned abelia?

Thanks for the heads-up on the boxleaf honeysuckle and Indian Hawthorn! I will take them off the list.

I was drawn to Hinoki Cypress but when I saw the price (this was at Wells) I was a little put off considering that I am needing a few to cover up the deadwood of the junipers that I will be keeping. I'll look around at a few other locations and see what I can scrounge up.

My success rate with Mexican Mock Orange has been dismal, I've managed to kill 3 in my back yard, so I'm less inclined to try my hand at it again, plus it looks like its water needs are higher than I'd like.

I have really a very dry location and only a tiny corner of my back yard receives any kind of shade at all. Even with regular watering my tomatoes and dahlias seem to do better when they receive some shade. This area will be getting none.

The Blue Star Juniper may be an option. I'm trying to get over my prejudice, and I'm thinking if I got a variety that produced berries, at least I'd get something to make pancetta with!

I swung by Lowes on my lunch break and picked up a bunch of half-price salvia that had just finished blooming. I'll keep it around and if I can't find a suitable spot for all of it in the front, I have a good spot in back for it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:09PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

What do you think of New Zealand Hebe?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:47PM
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LOL!! Hebes have an even worse reputation than the strawberry tree, unless you pick one of the albicans or pagei hybrids. They won't tolerate our winter wetness easily. As far as the strawberry tree is concerned, consider the source of your previous info :-) 'Marina', a a hybrid form, is much more vulnerable to our climate than the straight Arbutus unedo.......which grows in BC Canada no sweat.

Abelias typically have pale pink, almost white flowers but the reddish cast can be a foliage thing in cold weather. Such a long bloom season though and a rather carefree plant. And hummingbirds love them. Not sure why you've had difficulties with the Choisya.....that's generally one of the broadleaf evergreen shrubs I can recommend without concern for any winter damage.

I've attached a link to Great Plant Picks, a database of plants considered exceptional for the PNW both in terms of hardiness as well as performance. Offers good cultural info as well. Just take the mature size info with a grain of salt.....they tend towards the conservative side :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Great Plant Picks

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 5:55PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Thanks! So I will keep an eye out for an arbutus unedo non-marina. The one at Wells was 'oktoberfest' variety. I will check at Molbaks & Flower World to see what varieties they have.

I am not sure on the Choysia, and I may just try it again in this site, I really do love the evergreen foliage and the amazing smell. They're a gorgeous plant. I guess providing I can find an abelia that I wouldn't mind taking on a bit more of a reddish cast when it cools off, I will give it a shot. Worst case scenario is that it dies and I move something in to take it's spot.

Once again, one of the most helpful people on these boards. Thank you again!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 6:13PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Quick update- got started on my dry stream bed. It obviously needs some different sized stones, but it's coming along.!

I have read about avoiding a 'necklace' of boulders on the edges. Should I just use smaller rocks and do some scattering?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 11:23PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

Quick update- got started on my dry stream bed. It obviously needs some different sized stones, but it's coming along.!

I have read about avoiding a 'necklace' of boulders on the edges. Should I just use smaller rocks and do some scattering?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 11:48PM
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