Articles in Category: Evergreen

Heaths and Heathers

on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs

Heaths and Heathers

EricaHeaths and Heathers are two closely-related evergreen shrubs that are great additions to the shade or partial shade garden. 

Heaths (Erica sp., see photo to the left) have needle-like leaves and bloom during the winter, a welcome sight during those cold, gray months! Plants are low growing - generally from 6" to 15" tall by 2' wide - and have flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple. Heaths can tolerate full sun, but are also happy in partial sun. 

CallunaHeathers (Calluna sp., see photo to the right), on the other hand, have scale-like leaves and bloom from summer through the fall. They get a bit larger than Heaths; generally growing from 1' to 2' tall by up to 3' wide. Flowers are also various shades of white, pink, and purple. Heathers do best in part-sun, and can be a little fussy about watering (they don't like being over-watered or under-watered).

Both Heaths and Heathers prefer well-drained soils, and are relatively deer-resistant and undemanding. As an extra bonus, many varieties of Heath and Heather have foliage that colors up nicely in fall weather, in shades ranging from copper to orange to red. If you plant a mixture of the two, you'll end up with something in bloom for most of the year - along with some great fall color!

Ceanothus 'Emily Brown'

on Tuesday, 08 October 2019. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Ceanothus 'Emily Brown'

Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf's Pyramid'

on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Conifer, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Vanderwolf's Pyramid Limber Pine

vanderwolf_pine

The 'Vanderwolf' Pine has proven itself a good conifer choice for a hot, dry spot; one that won't get too large and has soft, two-toned needles. This western North American native Pine can tolerate our dry, hot summers and wet winters.

Well drained soil, including dry, rocky hillsides, will help it tolerate those conditions even better. We have especially been attracted to it because it doesn't have the scratchy quality of most conifers, you can get close to it and enjoy the soft blue and green needles. 'Vanderwolf' has a more open habit than some other sheared looking conifers when young but gets denser with age and can be used as an effective screen, a specimen position, or looks great in groups of three.

It is difficult to pin down a mature size on the 'Vanderwolf' but it is slower growing so it is useful in smaller spaces. It can get 20-25' tall and 10-15' wide but it seems to get taller more quickly than it gets wide. Like most pines, it only needs occasional watering once established and this variety is more disease and pest resistant than some other pine species. Also, like most pines, Vanderwolf's Pine is deer resistant.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Wednesday, 15 November 2017. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry Tree

arbutus-unedo-plant-of-the-

Compact Strawberry tree is one of our favorites for so many reason: it can tolerate sun or shade, is drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit, and it's evergreen!

You can easily see how this relative of our native Madrone gets its common name of Strawberry Tree. The orange and red fruits resemble strawberries, and although the fruit is technically edible, they are more for suited wildlife as they are bland  and mealy in texture. The honey scented, white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after.

Arbutus medSome years seem to have heavier fruit set than others, but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy. With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year. Compact Strawberry Tree is not the most fast growing evergreen shrub, but it will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger). With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller. This is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditons. It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.

We have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7 degree winter with no damage! In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds. The winter of 2013, where we got to zero degrees for several nights, proved fatal to some Arbutus and some rebounded after suffering damage on top.

We wish they were deer resistant but unfortunately the tips get chewed too much to be reliable.  Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings  or hedges. You will be hardpressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year round interest - plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much-needed winter nectar source!

Agave neomexicana

on Friday, 13 January 2017. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

Hardy Agave

agave neomexicana in snow

Hardy Agaves capture us like no other plant. Their almost mathematical geometry is mesmerizing, and they are tough as nails. One of the true survivors on our property- managing the dips in temp to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013 and the foot of snow in 2017 with not a speck of damage.

The two main hardy Agaves that we enjoy growing are Agave parryi which is a bit more pinecone shaped and Agave neomexicana which is a bit more open. They both are blue in tone and have decorative - but nasty - thorns. They require sharp drainage and seem to do best planted in a mound. We amend the soil with 1/4" gravel or larger decomposed granite and use it for a mulch as well to keep soil away from the crown of the plant.

Agave in bloomAgaves do best in full sun and can look striking in a container. They require little water once established, their fleshy roots are good at growing deeply into the soil. One sharp poke to the nose and deer will know to leave these desert plants alone. These two species are hardy to at least zone 7, if not zone 6. Once they get into the 2' wide range there is the possibility of them making a flower spike and then dying, but they have usually made pups by then which will carry on the Agave torch. You'll want to make room for these gems in your drought tolerant garden!