Eat less, volunteer more, draw or write daily in my journal – all examples of past New Year’s resolutions that were quietly discarded as the everyday pressures of work and life took precedence. This year, I’m making only one resolution and I know I’ll enjoy keeping it: to experiment with as many new plants as possible.
One thing making my resolution easier is the APLD-sponsored new plant presentation I attended late last year, courtesy of Ryan Hall of Pacific Plug and Liner. I’ll be sharing more of the plants I learned about as I try them out in my garden designs, but here are three that I’m particularly excited about – and you won’t be surprised to learn they are all perfect for small gardens.
Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’ lights up the dark
Why I’m salivating: Small scale, evergreen, silver-toned plants that light up a shade garden are few and far between. Like many mild-climate designers, I’m a sucker for the colorful, strappy foliage of sun-loving Phormiums and Cordylines, and am thrilled to discover an Astellia that shares many of the same characteristics. Available this spring.
Just the Facts
A selection of the New Zealand native ‘Silver Spear’.
Bold metallic silver foliage, and more compact, slightly weepier when compared to the species.
Shade to Part Shade
Size: 36’ x 48’
Sunset Zones: 5, 8-11, 14-24
Callistemon ‘ Slim’ - a vertical problem solver
What I can’t resist: Bottlebrush is somewhat despised in California as a ubiquitous, sprawling plant that tends to run roughshod over residential gardens, requiring more pruning and attention than most of us are willing to give. This new cultivar boasts the same evergreen foliage and cheery red flowers that are a magnet for pollinators, but while tall, grows only 3’ wide, making it an ideal screening choice for a small garden. Available in spring.
Just the Facts
An upright, columnar habit makes it ideal for screening or planting along fences.
Drought tolerant and unfussy, will thrive in most garden conditions.
Size: 8-10’ tall by 3’ wide.
Sunset Zones: 8, 9, 12-31, H1, H2
Buddleia Buzz Series – all the blooms, at a fraction of the size
Why I’m buzzing: Everyone loves the richly colored flowers and regular parade of butterflies and birds a traditional Butterfly Bush attracts – until the end of the season comes and that cute little bush has morphed into an overgrown monster poised to gobble up the rest of the garden. You won’t have that problem with this little gem. Available now.
Just the Facts
A new compact series of Butterfly Bush, available in a range of colors’ with a tidy garden habit.
Unlike other dwarf cultivars on the market, the flowers are full-sized.
Full Sun, drought tolerant
Size: 48” x 30”
Sunset Zones: 3B, 4-9, 14-24, 28-33
Many thanks for Ryan Hall from Pacific Plug and Liner for introducing me to these plants and providing the photos.