by germinatrix | April 26th, 2011
This month the Garden Designers of the Roundtable are posting about their TOP landscape plants – and I am in a total tizzy. HOW can I possibly CHOOSE? This is KILLING me! I know all of us are saying this, but I am saying it in an extra whiny tone, throwing myself on my daybed, and throwing my shoe against the wall. This is HARD. I am a crazed plant collector – a MANIAC, a FIEND. But the task at hand is more focused than what are my favorite plants – I see it as what plants we use the most when doing landscape design. Okay then. I can breathe now. Let’s just dive in:
Agave attenuata – An agave that is often used by pools. It is incredibly sculptural and has no sharp points. It pups easily, and develops a stem so underplanting this beauty is a must for me. And when it blooms – watch out! It will send up a swan’s neck shaped spike that will make you SWOON!
Rosa ‘Iceberg’ – What, you say? The Germinatrix is a fan of a simple white rose? YES! R. ‘Iceberg’ is one of the toughest roses around. She does well in drought, doesn’t need much more than a layer of compost for fertilizer, and she blooms her ass off . I love pairing Iceberg with agaves – the soft rose set off against the tough succulent just sends me over the moon every time!
Anigozanthus ‘Orange Cross’ – or ‘Red Cross’, or ‘Harmony’, or ‘Bush Ranger’, or ‘Tango’ – or just the beautiful green flowered A. viridis. I love them all. For much of the year they are a collection of strappy, upright, unassuming leaves – but come summer they burst forth like a cheerleading squad, yelling for attention. I love their stridency, their unabashed attention seeking behavior. And so do hummingbirds!
Euphorbias – I love love love them. I use lots of euphorbs in design – trigona, tirucalli, ingens, rigida, polychroma, lambii – but it is Euphorbia characias wulfenii that I go back to again and again. I love its 3′x3′ size ( taller with its super cool Martian blooms), those super cool Martian blooms, and the way they lend their je ne sais quoi to whatever plant is sitting next to them (like a chic French girl). In fact, I don’t think I have ever NOT used E. wulfenii in a design!
Artichoke – Be it ‘Green Globe’ or ‘Imperial Star’, I will go to the mat for this plant. If clients don’t want edibles, I will STILL make them plant artichokes – and they always LOVE them! There aren’t very many edibles that are also dramatic, scene-stealing, stand-alone garden plants, and this is one of them. When a plant looks THIS good and is also delicious, why the hell not? Plant it everywhere, I say! (it looks especially stunning associated with Iceberg roses, bronze fennel, marjoram, and sage – an edible combination to knock you on your BUTT!)
Marjoram and Sage – culinary herbs that do double duty in the landscape. They look fantastic while creating a tough groundcover layer, and they help out in the kitchen! Can you say that about all of your good-looking plants? Marjoram flowers attract bees like nothing else, and sage comes in so many fantastic colors that NOT planting it seems like a serious mistake to me, even if you aren’t thinking about eating the leaves!
Pelargonium ‘Chocolate Mint’ – We all know that I will plant as many agaves as I can in a garden, and this A. weberi is no exception – but right now I am focused on the underplanting of Pelargonium ‘Chocolate Mint’, otherwise known as Chocolate Mint Scented Geranium. This just LOOKS like chocolate mint, don’t try and make tea or flavored sugar with it! It smells pungent, like a resin of some sort. But all it needs to do for me is be lush and gorgeous, and create a low carpet to pull my plantings together, and I will love it forever.
Aeoniums – I used to plant more A. ‘Zwartkopf’ (the black rose succulent) than any other aeonium, but now it is A.urbicum that has my heart. Just look at the huge dinner plate form! Here in Southern California, it grows beautifully in dry shade – I often combine it with Euphorbia martinii and Huechera maxima. I just love easy drama!
I could seriously go on and on – but I might start taking up some crazy bandwidth! Let me just say that these plants are very specific to my climate, which is hot, dry, and Mediterranean. I like to push zones and mix in other types of plantings, but my backbone is always the tough palette that Southern California affords us. I consider myself lucky! The only reason I DON’T feel lucky right now is that I have so many MORE plants to talk about – I didn’t even TOUCH on GRASSES! ANATHEMA!
XOXO Your Germinatrix!
Now follow the links across the country to see what my fabulous colleagues are planting!
I’d like to thank our very Special Guest Star, the Magnificent Nan Ondra – who wrote us a huge, luscious post! What a delicious treat to read!!!