Category Archives: Zone 7b

25 May

Colorful Flowering Shrubs for Gardens: Cornus (Dogwoods)

Cornus is a genus of woody shrubs and small trees from temperate regions of the Americas, eastern Asia and Europe. Commonly known as Dogwood, the genus of Cornus offers a wide variety of flowering shrubs, foliage plants, and small trees for almost any soil type. The flowering species like Cornus kousa are grown for their showy bracts that appear in spring and early summer. The deciduous species like Cornus alba are grown for their uniquely colorful stems whereas the winter flowering species like Cornus mas are grown in colder climates.

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Cornus florida/ Image by Margit

Most species of Cornus are quite easy to grow. They are not fussy about their growing requirements and do well in almost any soil. They are frost hardy plants that grow 10 to 20 feet in height but are easily pruned to achieve desired shapes. These lovely plants can be grown from seeds or cuttings and require full to partial sun. Generally, Cornus grow well in rich, well-drained but lightly moist soil under sunny conditions.

Popular species of Cornus include:

Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood) grows as a small deciduous tree with dense and fresh green foliage. The plant produces lovely flowers or bracts of cream color in early spring followed by formation of berry-like drupes.

Cornus alba (Siberian dogwood) is a deciduous shrub that produces woody branches and small flowers. The plant is grown for winter interest when it sheds its leaves and wears hues of bright-crimson on its twigs.

Cornus alba

Cornus alba/ Image by Marion Wacker

Cornus x ‘Venus is grown for its splendid creamy flowers that appear in mid-summer. The plant grows as a small tree and attains the height of 10 to 12 feet.

Cornus x rutgersensis ‘Stellar Pink’ is a lovely plant with dark green foliage that changes many colors (orange, red, yellow and pink) before falling in autumn. The plant blooms in summer and grows up to 20 feet.

Cornus kousa ‘Miss Satomi’ is a known for its dense and prominent pink flowers that appear in summer. It makes a lovely addition to the garden because of its pink flowers and autumn foliage.

Because of their flowers, colorful foliage and interesting stem colors, Cornus are popular plants among horticulturists and gardens who use them in garden borders, garden screens, and mass plantation schemes.

29 Jan

Border Plant for Low-maintenance Gardens: Yucca filamentosa

If you are looking for a low-maintenance plant for garden borders, consider Yucca filamentosa – an evergreen, hardy and drought-tolerant plant.

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

On local nurseries, Yucca filamentosa is available with many different names: Adam’s needle, Spanish bayonet, Bear-grass and Needle-palm. The plant is known for its lovely white flowers and architectural structure that makes it a nice accent plant.

Yucca filamentosa thrives in a well-drained soil under partial sun. However, it can easily adapt itself to different types of soil and light conditions. For this reason, it makes a nice plant for gardens and landscapes where it forms small groups of shrubby plants with stem-less structure. A mature Yucca filamentosa can grow up to 1 meter in height and spread across 1.5 meter (however it takes around 20 years to attain this size).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’

Yucca filamentosa is characterized by its sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves that form a tight rosette. The leaves change many shades from winter to spring. In spring, Yucca filamentosa produces a long stalk of beautiful white flowers. The flowers last for a long time and attract bees and butterflies.

Yucca filamentosa also offers a couple of popular cultivars that include:

Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’ – similar to ‘Bright Edge’, but larger.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Tower’ – creamy white flowers tinged with green.

Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

19 Dec

Small and Evergreen Flowering Tree: Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)

The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.

Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.

Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.

Strawberry tree

Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)

Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.

Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.

Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.

Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing  and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.

13 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub with Sweet Fragrant Flowers: Abelia

Abelia is a genus of lovely flowering shrubs from Asia and Mexico. Loved by gardeners because of its compact growth, Abelias are excellent specimen shrubs for gardens and landscapes. The genus of Abelia consists of more than 30 species and many hybrids.

Most species of Abelia grow from 1 to 6 meters and produce attractive glossy foliage accompanied by beautiful flowers of white, pink and mauve colors. Flowers are usually fragrant especially in summer evenings.

Abelia grandiflora

Abelia grandiflora/ Image by Leonora Enking

Abelias can be easily trimmed to form desirable shapes and size. These lovely shrubs are quite hardy and adaptable. Most species will tolerate drought and frost. Propagated by cuttings, Abelias will go good under full to partial sun.

From a large number of available varieties to choose from, you can start with popular species like:

Abelia grandiflora is a medium-sized flowering shrub that grows up to 3 meters and produces arching branches with small glossy leaves. Pink flowers with light fragrance appear in mid-summer.

Abelia Edward Goucher is a popular hybrid variety and is grown for its longer flowering period (usually much of the summer till early fall). This compact flowering shrub grows up to 5 feet and usually forms dense and rounded shape. The lustrous green leaves turn to pinkish-purple in winter.

Abelia grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’ is known for its red stems and bright, golden yellow variegation on glossy green leaves creating a kaleidoscope of color. The plant makes an excellent specimen shrub for indoor use.

08 Nov

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.