Today's Tips

Planning Your Ornamental Landscape

Landscaping your property yourself may seem like a daunting task, but it's easier than you think. In an ornamental landscape, it's important to consider how plants go together - color, texture, size, and shape are important aspects of creating a beautiful and interesting landscape. Using contrast helps bring out complementary features of the different plants. An example of color contrast could mean using plants with flowers from opposite sides of the color wheel, such as blue and orange or yellow, or light and dark colors next to each other. You can also create contrast with texture by using plants with different types of foliage - a plant with lacy foliage could go next to one with glossy leaves - for example, amsonia with heartleaf bergenia.

The Right Plant in the Right Place

One of the most important things to consider when planning your landscape is what plants are suitable for your microclimates. Take a walk around your yard and house and you will undoubtedly find areas that are shady, others that receive salt from driveways or paths, some that are perpetually wet, and yet others that may be very windy, sunny, or cold. It is easy to look at these as "problem" areas where you cannot grow the plants you would most like to. Another way of looking at these areas is as opportunities to create a more diverse landscape and get to know unfamiliar plants. Below you will find examples of some of the plants we grow that fit well in these microclimates.

Salt-Tolerant Plants (good for near the road where the salt truck spray in the winter) : Common Thrift, Sea Holly, Daylilies, Artemisia, Heuchera

Juglone Tolerant Plants (many plants won't grow near trees in the walnut family): Hollyhocks, Daylilies

Cold-Tolerant (superhardy) Plants: Campanula, viola, sedums, Lady's Mantle

Shade-Tolerant Plants: brunnera, hosta, heuchera, dicentra, Goat’s Beard, white baneberry, astilbe, cimicifuga, heartleaf bergenia

Water-Loving Plants: Joe Pye Weed, Highbush Cranberry, ligularia, Chinese Globeflower,

Low-Maintenance Plants

If you are a very busy person (as I know I am), it is wise to choose plants that require little or no maintenance in order to look beautiful and survive. These plants require little pruning or deadheading, and can fill your landscape with color, texture, and wildlife.

  • Day lillies
  • Grasses
  • Shrubs
  • Sedums
  • Perennial herbs
  • Perennial geraniums
  • Peony

Woody Ornamental Plants

This year we are offering an expanded selection of ornamental shrubs for your landscaping projects. Many of these are also dual-purpose, providing a number of other benefits such as privacy screening, coppice material, shade, windbreak, food and shelter for wildlife, nectar for birds and insects, erosion control, and more. Some examples include:

‘Winter Red’ and ‘Southern Gentleman’ Winterberry Hollies – Plant these two together for a stunning year-round show! Female plants are deciduous, with leaves that turn yellow in the fall and are replaced by masses of large scarlet berries that provide winter food for birds.

‘Summer Wine’ Physocarpus – A beautiful, fast-growing perennial with arching stems covered with dark purple-bronze foliage. White, button-like flowers appear in June and provide pollen for insects. Makes a great privacy screen.

‘Hakuro Nishiki’ Dappled Willow – A gorgeous ornamental plant with pink shoots that open to green and white variegated leaves. Yellow flowers appear in April and stems turn red in winter. Flowers provide pollen for insects. A fast-growing plant that makes a great privacy screen.

These are all some of the easiest plants to grow. Once you are armed with a list of simple plants, just keep in mind these other factors:

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Placement

Once you understand what kind of plants like what type of conditions, you will feel confident to play with plants like a painter plays with colors. It is all about the right place for the right plant; so learn to identify the micro climates within your yard, come up with lists of plants that fit each micro climate, and create your own box of paints!

If this is hard for you, remember, we are here to help you!