Unique Plants for a Distinctive Landscape
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Form and color are distinguishing factors in all artistic designs, landscape design being no exception. New and unusual plants play an important role in the landscaper's palette, as are underutilized plants from exotic locations. They add drama, harmony, and interest to differentiate the adventurous from the predictable. The juxtaposition of strong, sculptural plants against a backdrop of softly textured foliage creates a striking focal point. Unusual blue foliage provides a cool contrast when paired with foliage of warm hues. Unique plants can make the difference between a ho-hum landscape and one that turns heads.
Agave 'Blue Flame'
– The name 'Blue Flame' is both in reference to the blue in the foliage and also to the shape of the plant, which evokes the image of a gas flame with its flared leaves and incurved leaf tips. The bold beauty of this living sculpture makes an excellent contrast to shrubs, trees, and grasses with narrow leaves or delicate flowers. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.
Cordyline australis 'Atropurpurea' (Dracaena a.)
–This palm-like sub-tropical tree makes a striking focal plant with its fountain of arching bright burgundy and reddish-bronze sword-like leaves. For a more graceful plant, cut back when young to force multiple trunks. Mature plants bear clusters of small, starry, fragrant white flowers in late spring. .
– This statuesque plant has stout green stems, spiny leaves and masses of apple green flowers that hold court in late winter and early spring. Its imposing stature and dramatic evergreen foliage alone demand appreciation but the pale green cup-shaped flowers add extra drama when other flowers are still dreaming of summer.
Rosa 'Flower Carpet Coral'
– Coral color and unparalleled disease resistance are the hallmarks of this brilliant groundcover rose. Each vigorous and compact shrub is covered with an explosion of soft coral colored blooms, aging to soft blush of peach. Each shrub can produce up to 2,000 blooms in a single growing season, creating a carpet of color and fragrance all season long.
Agonis flexuosa 'Jervis Bay After Dark'
– This Australian native is a stunner. The narrow distinctive leaves start as an eye-catching scarlet color in the spring, gradually deepening to a striking burgundy color. The shaggy bark and dark leaves provide a striking background for the white flowers that appear in clusters from spring into early summer. To add more interest, the leaves of the Peppermint Tree release a delicious peppermint scent when crushed. This willowy little tree grows moderately fast to about 18 feet.
Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Crimson'
– This dazzler has large redder-than-red trumpet-shaped flowers with orange throats. The luxurious dark green foliage adds even more tropical appeal. The long-lasting 4"- 6" blooms may occur singly or in clusters and appear year round if the weather is warm and accommodating. The stout vines climb quickly, making them ideal for a garden trellis, pergolas, fences, or containers with support.
Podocarpus gracilior Column (Afrocarpus elongatus) (Nageia falcatus)
– This beautiful evergreen is amongst the cleanest, most pest-free trees, columns or espaliers for street, lawn, patio or garden. It has a rounded crown and the dense branches create a soft, graceful effect. Gray-green leaves are closely spaced on branches and have a fern-like appearance.
Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'
– True to its name, Kaleidoscope produces a spectacular changing display of color. The variegated foliage is bright yellow with light green centers in spring, deepening in summer to a darker green. Brilliant red stems provide a unique contrast. White, bell shaped flowers burst open in late summer and continue well into autumn. Showcase this compact beauty as an accent plant or wow visitors with a mass planting.