Plants that will love you – and you’ll love them back

April 17, 2013 

Why put up with problem plants when there are so many well-behaved trees, shrubs and flowers that love to grow here and never complain?

These plants never have a drinking problem, love our climate, and adjust to a range of soil and sunlight situations. Our climate has wet springs, windy winters and dry summers. These plants can’t be beat when it comes to surviving. April is the month to find them at local nurseries.

Consider these plants:


Barberry: These plants makes a point about not drinking too much. They are also covered with barbs and this makes barberries a great shrub to use near low windows as a security planting to keep the burglars out — or the kids in. New barberry varieties come in cute little dwarf forms (Crimson Ruby), bold blondes with golden foliage (Golden Nugget is a dwarf blonde) and my new favorite, a tall, skinny red-leafed barberry that looks like a rocket ready to blast off (Helmond Pillar Barberry).

Spiraea: The golden spiraeas will thrive in dry soil but, like all shrubs, they will need extra water the first summer after planting. After their roots establish, they can handle life without your help. Spiraeas are rounded shrubs, happy to share a sunny bed with the barberry brothers as the two plants have foliage colors that combine well. Goldflame Spiraea has bronzy new growth and hot-pink blooms, Limemound spiraea is more yellow-green in summer and bronze in the fall and the “Magic Carpet” spiraea dazzles with gold, red and pink color shades on the leaves. You can control the size of these spiraeas by shearing them back just about any time of year. Get creative and plant a sunny bank with a serpentine line of spiraea. Then add accents of purple barberry and you’ll have a drought-resistant display of gold and purple foliage.

Sedum: My favorite perennial is Sedum “Autumn Joy” with an upright form, rounded leaves and rusty panicles of bloom — but wait, I also love Sedum “Frosty Morn” with green leaves edged in pure white and pale white flowers in the fall and then there are all the lower growing sedums that carpet the ground to block out weeds such as the stonecrop, sedum Angelina and the ever-expanding varieties of Sempervirens or Hen’s and Chicks. Sedums do especially well in containers with good drainage making them perfect plants for gardeners that go on vacation or ignore their potted plants for weeks at a time.

Purple Smoke Tree (Cotinus Coggygria): One of the few trees that can also be cut back every spring to ground level and grown as a shrub and that will thrive in rocky soil, dry soil or regular soil. The rich, royal purple foliage makes a lovely companion for bold and burgundy spiraeas or barberry plants and adding boulders rather than bushes around a smoke tree is a rock-solid design idea.

Yucca: Bright, bold and graphic, you can give any landscape a contemporary edge by adding yucca to the landscape. I use yucca in urns that are far away from the hose. The foliage of yucca plants looks like symmetrical swords radiating out from a center stem so no deer, elk or slug has ever bothered a yucca plant. New varieties come with gold and pink stripes on the barb-tipped leaves. Make it a point to be careful when working around yucca plants — they can be prickly.

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