Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden Designers' Roundtable: Go-to plants!

Best plants. Favorite plants. Go-to plants.  This month's edition of the Garden Designers' Roundtable is all about the plants!  Be sure to visit our web site for a wonderful introduction to this topic and the links to today's participants.

Most landscape designers keep a mental Rolodex of plants on call for specific sites and uses.  This file is constantly being updated and edited as new plants are introduced to the market and others fall out of favor. However, there are some plants that I know I can depend on; they are hardy, relatively trouble free, and have multiple growth (cultural) or decorative qualities to recommend them.  So, without further ado, here is my list of go-to plants:

Deciduous Trees                                         
Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis                          
Kentucky Coffeetree, Gymnocladus dioicus                          
Oak, Quercus sp.                                                      
Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos
Japanese Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata
Serviceberry, Amelanchier sp.*
Hawthorn, Crataegus sp.*

Deciduous Shrubs

Gro-Low Sumac, Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’
Apache Plume, Fallugia paradoxa

Western Sand Cherry, Prunus besseyi var.Pawnee Buttes’
Fernbush, Chamaebatiara millefolium
New Mexico Privet, Forestiera neomexicana
Blue Mist Spirea, Caryopteris incana

Barberry, Berberis sp. *
Lilac, Syringa patula sp.
Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii
Beautybush, Kolkwitzia amabilis
Golden Currant, Ribes aureum
Spirea, Spiraea sp. *
Cameo Quince, Chaenomeles japonica ‘Cameo’ *
Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster sp. *
Viburnum, Viburnum sp.*
Ninebark, Physocarpus sp.*
Annabelle Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ *

Evergreen Trees

Pinon Pine, Pinus cembroides var. edulis
Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
Vanderwolf’s Limber Pine, Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’

Evergreen Shrubs

Oregon Grape Holly, Mahonia sp.
Euonymus sp. *
Hardy manzanita, Arctostaphylos x coloradensis
Hillside Creeper Pine, Pinus sylvestris ‘Hillside Creeper’*
Yucca sp.

Big Tuna Mugo Pine, Pinus mugo ‘Big Tuna’

Perennial Flowers, Grasses and Groundcovers

Whirling Butterflies, Gaura lindheimeri
Powis Castle Sage, Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’*
Moonshine Yarrow, Achillea ‘Moonshine’
Creeping Speedwell, Veronica sp.
Giant Silver Mullen, Verbascum bombiciferum

Autumn Joy Sedum, Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’
Sunset Hyssop, Agastache rupestris

 Variegated Iris, Iris pallida
Orange Carpet Hummingbird Flower, Zauschneria garrettii
English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides*

Penstemon sp.
Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber
Missouri Evening Primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa
Globethistle, Echinops ritro

Zagreb Coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’
Sunrose, Helianthemum nummularium
Paeonia sp. *
Geranium sp. *

False Indigo, Baptisia australis
Russian Sage, Perovskia artiplicifolia
Candytuft, Iberis sempervirens 

Little Bluestem Grass, Schizachyrium scoparium

Blue Avena Grass, Helictotricon sempervirons
Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis *
Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum  *

* These plants (or related species) will need moderately moist conditions.

This list may seem short - considering the many hundreds of plants that grow well in our area - so think of it as a super-deluxe "top 10" list! You will notice that most of my go-to plants are tried and true main stays of the mid-west, inter-mountain west, and upland southwest regions of the US.  Hence, the name: "go-to" plants!  The bulk of any landscape or garden should consist of well adapted, low maintenance plants and this list is a great place to start. (Read this post to learn about a few oddball plants to throw into the mix.)

Please visit these participating members of the Garden Designer's Roundtable for planting inspiration for your region and beyond... 

Nan Ondra : Hayefield : Bucks County, PA
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Laura Livengood Schaub : Interleafings : San Jose, CA
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA
Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA


Nan Ondra said...

That's a great list of favorites, Jocelyn. I'll need to spend some quality time with Google to check out some of the deciduous shrubs that I've not heard of before. Your hawthorn photo is stunning, as is the grasshopper on little bluestem. Thanks for sharing!

Robert Webber said...

What a fabulous range of material to draw on - absolutely loads of old friends. It interests me that when you see a plant name you think of the places you've grown or seen it. Such great memory jogs plants!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Nan,I'm lucky to have several different adjacent biomes to draw on for plant material. Glad you enjoyed the photos!

Robert, old friends are often the best friends, no? Undemanding but stable and true. Perhaps we need to plan a GDRT post on "memory makers"!

Pam/Digging said...

Wonderful selection, Jocelyn. That apache plume jumps out at me because I'm watching Avatar with my daughter right now (while reading posts), and it looks just like the Na'vi tails that make a bond with other creatures on their planet. Ha! Have you seen the movie?

Debbie/GardenofPossibilities said...

Jocelyn, Wow, what a wonderful list of plants. Some I know and others are new to me so I'll be doing some research to see which ones I can start to add to my go-to list here in CT. Almost forgot, lovely photos too, especially that sweet little grasshopper.

susan morrison said...

Nice list, You really know your craft. You know how when you go to a party, the first thing you do is look around for people you know? That's what I did with your list! Oh, I plant that...and that! Don't know why, but it makes me feel connected.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Pam, I viewed Avatar just a few months ago - stunning visuals! So fun to hear that you made a connection between a go-to plant and a fantasy creature - cool!

Debbie, I'm always surprised at the number of plants that are adaptable across many different biomes. Discovering new plants to try is one of the great pleasures of gardening. Glad you enjoyed the photos!

Susan, I do the same thing! Common plants or even plant attributes - like color - are great connecting points for gardeners everywhere. Thanks for stopping by!

Mike Woods said...

Thanks for sharing your list.
I too use many of them but found a couple that I've been less than successful using.
I'm going to review it again.
I enjoyed this Jocelyn.

rebecca sweet said...

That Hawthorn photo is to die for! Must see if it'll thrive here where I live. And the globe thistles are just stunning, too! I've planted them a few times in my garden, but they never EVER look like yours do. Thanks for the list!

Genevieve said...

Wow, Jocelyn, you are certainly not stingy with your information! This is the kind of tried-and-true regional advice that makes people think that coming to professionals is a good idea. Your photos show that not only do you know what works, but HOW to work it with these plants. Nice post.

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Hi Mike, thanks for your comments! I find that some of the plants on my list are soil sensitive - they may work well in heavier clay soils, but perform poorly in sandy soils.

Hi Rebecca, I think your comment (like Mike's) speaks well to the fact that plant success can be frustratingly site specific. We all have to make smart choices and be willing to learn from our triumphs and our failures!

Gen, glad you enjoyed the post. In my region there are an enormous number of plants to choose from. A mix of natives and introduced hardies can usually fit the bill!

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

Love the assortment (many of my faves too), and thrilled to see so many Plant Select choices. I am not so sold on Caryopteris: I prefer Lavandula or (please forgive me, Lord!) Perovskia (There! I said it) list would have a bevy of Salvia and penstemon and of course delospermas...

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Differing opinions are what make this type of exercise so much fun! However, I must say, the deep blue of a good Caryopteris is unbeatable...and how the heck did I miss the Sedums! Thanks for playing, Panayoti!