Showing posts with label plants for sun in seattle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plants for sun in seattle. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plants That Add Structure to Sunny Garden Beds

As I explained in my introduction to the plant list for shady garden beds, you want to design your garden so that it has a framework, or structure, that is visible year around. When you do this, your garden will look good all year, even in the dead of winter. Here are some plant choices for sunny exposures.

Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy' - Crimson pygmy barberry
Size: up to 2' tall and wide
Comments: Deciduous; deep red leaves; mound-shaped; very tiny yellow flowers in spring; very thorny, can be used as a barrier plant; rarely needs pruning.

Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruiticosa' - True dwarf boxwood

Size: to 4-5' if left unclipped
Comments: Boxwood grows in sun or shade; it can be clipped into a hedge or allowed to grow naturally as a dense, round shrub.

Cistus spp. - Rockrose
Size: 2' - 6' tall and wide, depending on cultivar
Comments: Many cultivars to choose from in different sizes; all are very tolerant of bad soil, drought and salt spray; flower colors range from white to pink to purple; evergreen; use as a hedge or in small groupings.
Euonymous japonicus 'Microphyllus' - Box-leafed euonymous
Size: 1' -2' tall and wide
Comments: Very dark, green leaves; formal looking; needs no clipping; forms an attractive low hedge.
Size: 2' - 6', depending on cultivar
Comments: Many cultivars to choose from. Leaves vary a great deal in size, color, and texture, from convex blue-grey to fleshy purple. Showy varieties like 'Amy' and 'Tricolor' aren't likely to survive prolonged cold or heavy frosts (believe me, I've lost several). But most all varieties will tolerate seaside conditions. Short flower spikes in summer are purple or white. 'Red Edge' lives up to its name in winter/early spring with attractive red margins on the leaves.
Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' - Blue star juniper
Size: up to 12" tall x 2' wide
Comments: Blue foliage with star-like form; unlike any other juniper; good blue accent in the garden.

Nandina domestica - Heavenly bamboo
Size: 3' x 3' up to 8' tall, depending on variety
Comments: Not really a bamboo, but called that because of its leaf shape. All varieties are evergreen. Many to choose from. All do well in sun or shade, but color up best in sun. 'Compacta' is fast growing up to 6', column shaped, red new growth, clusters of white flowers followed by red berries. 'Gulf Stream' gets approximately 4' x 3', burgundy new growth in spring which ages to dark rich green by summer. 'Moon Bay' is slightly smaller, about 3' x 3', new foliage is bright red and/or yellow, like all Nandina, color changes with temperature making it interesting year around. There are many more varieties available. Some have lots of berries, some have none; shapes include: tall and slender and short and wide; some a ground covers. There is some form of Nandina for just about any place in a garden.

Pinus mugo 'Mugo' - Mugo pine
Size: 2' tall and wide and up
Comments: This is a dwarf version of a large mound-shaped pine. Provides year around texture and visual interest.
Viburnum davidii - David's viburnum
Size: to 3' tall and wide
Comments: Often used as a low-growing border. Has clusters of white flowers in spring, followed by iridescent blue berries.

Need more ideas? Get your copy of The Pacific Northwest Gardener's Book of Lists

Euphorbia spp.
Size: 18" to 5' tall
Comments: There are many plants in this group: E. wulfenii is stunning in late winter, standing 4 -5' tall with large clusters of chartreuse bracts atop its many stems. Look for smaller varieties, too; new ones are introduced often. Be careful working with these plants. Their white, milky sap will burn your skin. Wear long sleeves and gloves.
Herbs, such as Lavender, Rosemary and Sage

Size: 18" to 4' tall and wide, depending on type
Comments: All three of these are fragrant; all are drought tolerant; all have blue or purple flowers; all are evergreen, although the sage will lose some leaves in winter. Lavender makes a good low hedge with several varieties to choose from, including Spanish lavender which features a little topknot on top of each flower. Upright rosemary plants will quickly become small shrubs. 'Tuscan Blue' has a particularly vivid blue flower in late winter, early spring. There are several varieties of sage to choose from: purple sage makes a nice accent; pineapple sage has yellow-green leaves.

Ornamental grasses
Size: 18" to 5' tall
Comments: There are many grasses to choose from. Grasses in the Carex family are small, mound-shaped and come in several colors ranging from medium green leaves with creamy edges to bronze. The Miscanthus family includes many interesting cultivars from 4' to 8' tall, with different leaf colors and striping, all topped with feathery plumes in summer. Ornamental grasses can be beautiful and easy to maintain if you choose the right ones. They can be invasive and lots of work if you don't. So do some research before you plant. Consult The New Sunset Western Garden Book for detailed information.
Sedum spectabile 
Size: up to 30" tall and wide

Comments: This is the upright form of a prolific group of plants; several attractive cultivars include 'Autumn Joy' and 'Brilliant.' New foliage begins to show above ground in winter, followed by flowers that resemble broccoli heads. These turn pink or reddish as spring progresses and become handsome dried flowers by fall. Newer introductions have purple foliage.