Monday, December 04, 2006
Meet. . . . .Mahonia!
Mahonia is a broad-leaf evergreens (as opposed to a needle type conifer such as pine or spruce) that do especially well in the mountain west. They tolerate both full sun and full shade, although I think the ideal siting is in morning sun with afternoon shade. Mahonia is also an ideal choice for dry shade---one of the toughest conditions to select plants for. Commonly known as Oregon grape holly, this plant is available in three different sizes; standard (M. aquifolium) is 5'-8' tall by 5' wide, compact (M. aquifolium 'Compacta') is 3'-4' tall and 4' wide, and creeping Oregon grape holly (M. repens) is 12"-18" tall and is a groundcover type-plant them about 2' apart and they will fill in after 2-3 years (fairly slow to get established).
I love this plant! It has glossy green leaves during the growing season that turn to a burgundy-bronze in the winter. Clusters of small, yellow flowers in mid-spring are followed by blue berries that are a great favorite of birds---I see young Flicker woodpeckers chowing down on them in the summer.
So if you want a xeric, versatile evergreen, choose Mahonia!