As much as we relish the colors and scents of the garden, the buzz of bees weaving between blooms, or the flash of a hummingbird’s bright throat, let’s face it: there aren’t always flowers in the garden. That’s why texture and structure comprise such a crucial part of landscape design. The eye loves variety, balance, depth, the play of light and shadow; we subconsciously appreciate these foundational aspects throughout the year, but they move to the forefront when the raucous display of summer has faded into the muted conclusion of fall, and lapsed into winter. Plants that can hold their own in the garden irrespective of season are invaluable—these allow our enjoyment of the yard to transcend days of reading on a sunny bench or sharing a meal with friends under the stars to rainy afternoons spent gazing out the windows from a chair by the fireside. Retail Manager Melynn Cliff selected this week’s featured plants for their outstanding performance, rich texture, and year-around beauty.
Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’) leads the pack when it comes to texture. Mounds of distinctly pointed whorls in shades of silvery blue make it an eye-catching groundcover or rock garden plant. Growth will spread some 3 to 4 feet at a moderate pace, and stand 2 to 3 feet high in time. Melynn favors this cultivar for its good looks and hardiness: Blue Star flourishes in full sun, requires little water after the establishment period, is nearly deer-proof, and holds up under extremely low temperatures. Provided it has good drainage, it also tolerates almost any soil type. Well-suited to many garden styles, this one provides the greatest impact among other plants with earth-toned foliage, and set against strong vertical elements. Don’t overlook its potential as a slope-cover or a woody container specimen either— fantastic texture and iron-clad performance make this a welcome addition anywhere.
Liriope muscari—commonly referred to as Lilyturf—is an evergreen grass-like plant. The genus name is a nod to the woodland nymph, Liriope, of Greek lore; like that fabled character, the plant thrives in a moist environment with partial or full shade. The narrow leaves arch gracefully to form a rounded clump, reaching about 18 inches high and wide when mature. Spikes of clustered lilac blooms rise from the foliage in late summer over the course of a month or more, brightening a border or highlighting a container, followed by small, dark berries. This one makes a striking mass-planting or drift, and can be mowed in late winter to rejuvenate the previous year’s growth. But grassy texture and delicate flowers conceal Lilyturf’s resilient nature: cold-hardy, deer- and rabbit-resistant, and low-maintenance, Liriope is a sure-fire choice for understory texture in Northern California. Melynn recommends either ‘Royal Purple,’ a cultivar with dark lavender blooms, or new introduction ‘Silvery Sunproof,’ which pairs pale purple spikes with cream and grey-green striped leaves.
You will find these star performers in the nursery now, along with many other wonderful selections. Several new orders have arrived, and our displays are constantly changing to accommodate the incoming fall planting selection. So get out and enjoy the mild weather—we look forward to helping you make your garden a source of year-around enjoyment and inspiration!