September 2015
Cooler days and promised winter rains means it’s time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. These must-haves—trees and shrubs for structure, and perennials for textures, forms, and sequence of bloom—are where to begin to create a memorable garden. Tish Treherne of Bliss Garden Design in Bainbridge Island, WA created this lush, layered landscape with a backbone of shrubs and trees (Snow Sprite deodor cedar, hemlock and Orangeola Japanese maple) and filled in with stands of frothy touch-me grasses, Morning Light maiden grass, black mondo grass, Evergold Japanese Sedge. Hellebores provide winter blooms. Ready to plant? More below.

Busting water-wasters

Barely blooming rose? Half-dead shrub? “Swap It Out!” is our new initiative to help you change your landscape’s water use from a gulp to a sip, one plant at a time. By selectively yanking out the worst offenders and replacing them with spectacular water-wise alternatives such as Golf Ball Kohuhu, or Icee Blue® Juniper you can make an impact. Need a “Swap It Out” suggestion? Post your slacker (and zip) to facebook or use #swapitoutnow; we’ll offer up ideas.

Groundcovers for slopes

With epic rains in the forecast, consider planting fast-growing groundcovers to help with erosion control by filling in vulnerable spots. Stunning sprawlers such as Coral Beauty Cotoneaster, Fire Spinner® Ice Plant, Ground Morning Glory and Oo-La-La® Bougainvillea are soil-knitters now and water-wise later. Plant en masse for best results.

Romantic Japanese Maples

Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) come in a range of heights and forms, but right now we’re loving the low, graceful ones that cascade over rocks, slopes or the edge of a large container. Try fine-leafed Waterfall near the front entry, purple-tinged Red Dragon in a glazed ceramic pot and rich-red Oshio-Beni under a mature tree. Once established, virtually maintenance free; in warmer zones, perform best in partial shade.

Colorful conifers

When it comes to conifers, this season blue is the new green. Designers are using these icy-to-bright-blue trees and shrubs for color and texture in borders, silhouetted against darker hues and as singular sensations. The range of shapes and forms is remarkable. Tight space? Try this wow combo: Feelin’ Blue Deodar Cedar, Blue Point Juniper and Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar.

Plant a personal orchard

From peaches to pomegranates, it’s container-grown fruit tree planting time. They’ll settle in over winter and many will produce next year. Have your own farmer’s market over a long season with Beauty Japanese Plum (early), Santa Barbara Peach (midseason), and Angel Red® Pomegranate (late summer). Or make a statement with a hedge of pineapple guava! Video tips here.

Shady solution

Walls and fences under trees or other shady spots often need a shot of color. Many shade-loving camellias are ideal for training as espalier (branches are trained to grow flat against a wall). Look for shrubs with naturally spreading branches such as Spring’s Promise Ice Angels® Camellia (bright-red), Nuccio’s Bella Rossa Camellia (crimson), Swan Lake™ Camellia (white) or Pink-A-Boo® Camellia. Not difficult, promise. How to.