Friday, May 13, 2011

Winning Combinations

This is a short post, or rather boast, about some plant combinations I'm enjoying right now.

Lithodora diffusa is a popular groundcover on the coast, probably for its evergreen leaves and cheerful blue flowers.  Frequently it displays blackened, defoliated branches due to some unknown fungus.  The best cure is to cut it severely back, almost as if you are removing it.  The established roots respond with new fresh growth and profuse flowering as seen here.

Allow it to swarm around the base of taller plants, like this weeping Alberta Spruce (Picea abies var. pendula) and even visually striking edibles like the spiky artichoke above, a great vegetable for mild coastal summers.

Planting into the shadow of the spruce, and at the top (drier) edge of my small rain garden, I looked for a spot of shade-tolerant color year round.  Hence this 'Creme Brulee' Heuchera, also known as Coral Bells.  It's just getting ready to flower.

Providing a rosy, but much darker, backdrop for the Heuchera is one of my favorites for the wetter soils of a rain garden or bog area, Ninebark.  This particular selection was chosen for its burgundy foliage, in this case a horticultural variety of Eastern Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), 'Summer Wine.'  The plant will eventually mature much larger, but I plan to keep it restrained with annual pruning.

Finally, the basin of my rain garden sports a bronzy selection of wet-tolerant sedge, which I think is Carex buchanii.  Sometimes I pick up these plants on a whim of late-summer clearance sales or adopt them from the nursery's cull pile, hence I'm not always sure of the exact species or variety.

What combinations are emerging in your spring garden that delight the eye?

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