Even for a garden designer, there's no such thing as a maintenance-free garden and the first weekend of August found this Garden Guy watering his west-facing front yard. I enjoy this early morning task because the air is cool, the birds provide a joyful chorus and, even during the Dog Days of Summer, I usually only irrigate once a month. “How’s that possible? you ask. It’s simple; choose the right plants. Look for beauty as well as toughness, drought-tolerance and little to no pruning. Let’s take a look at a few of the choice summer candidates that can hold their own and brighten-up your yard next summer.
On the top of my list this year is the simple rockrose. Cistus ‘Mickiehas the added interest of large, white crape-paper-like flowers in spring. But, it’s the golden variegated foliage that provides the colorful punch throughout the year. Back it with a purple barberry for a great color combination. Don’t believe the 2-by-3 feet size noted on the plant tags. Mine has been in for six years and is about 4 by 5 and gorgeous four season of the year. Other great cistus include ‘Purpurea,’ ‘Sunset’, Skanbergi and ‘Snow Fire.’
There's a reason you see Barberries in many corporate landscaping schemes. They are extremely low maintenance, yet can stun with seasonal colors from purple to orange to gold. It’s ideal for foundation plantings or hedges. Depending on the cultivar, this deciduous plant can grow from one- to seven-feet tall. It needs occasional pruning, but not much. My favorites include ‘Rose Glow,’ ‘Crimson Pygmy,’ ‘Orange Rocket,’ and ‘Sunjoy.’
I particularly like Fescue ‘Elijah Blue.’ The color of this perennial tells you right up front that it is accustomed to sunshine. Its gray leaves evolved to handle harsh sun. Depending on the cultivar, the blades of this grass can range from gray to a powder-blue and the color holds through the year. Plant heights can range from 9 to 18 inches tall, with the seed heads floating at up to four-feet tall. Similar favorites include ‘Boulder Blue’ and the larger ‘Blue Oat Grass.’
n Last on this particular list is Coreopsis. Also known as Tickseed, this native of the Great Plains is a perennial bloomer (although there are some annual varieties) which will provide you with a nice color spot in the yard or container from early summer through autumn. In colors like yellow, orange, pink, purple, and red, Coreopsis makes great cut flowers that can be enjoyed in house flower arrangements. It’s an easy grower, tolerates most any soil condition and pollinators love it. Favorites include ‘Moonbeam,’ ‘Zagreb’ and ‘Blushing Pink.’
Do you want more shrub and perennial suggestions or, for that matter, a full-on garden consultation for your yard? If so, contact the Woodinville Weekly’s Garden Guy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll schedule a visit. Until the next issue of this column, happy gardening y’all!