Sunny Combos for Year Round Interest

By Kerry Ann Mendez

Let's construct a version of Extreme Makeover in our garden! First, pick a section of your garden that could use some "fixing up". The goal is to have dazzling color during the growing season, as well as through winter.

To achieve a four-season masterpiece that is also low maintenance, simply combine (1) evergreen perennials and shrubs, (2) woody plants with colorful bark, stems, structure or berries and (3) conifers and evergreen flowering shrubs.

Below are suggestions for sun to part sun. Next week I'll focus on "shadier characters".

Pick one (or more) from each category to combine for a nonstop, irresistible composition.

Evergreen Perennials

1. Coral Bells - More sun-tolerant cultivars include 'Caramel' and 'Blackout' or any green-leaved cultivar

2. Heath (i.e. 'Eva Gold')

3. Grasses - Choose from many options including Blue Fescue and Pennisetum 'Hameln'

Colorful Bark, Stems, Structure and/or Berries

1. Red or Yellow Stem Dogwood, Willow 'Hakuro Nishiki' and 'Golden Curls'

2. Trees such as Paperbark Maple or River Birch 'Heritage'

3. Weeping Cherry or Weeping Crabapple

4. Evergreen or Deciduous Holly or assorted Crabapples with persistent winter fruit

Conifers and Evergreen Flowering Shrubs

1. There are so many conifers to choose from! A few dwarf non-green needled options are Juniper 'Blue Star', Blue Spruce 'Glauca Globosa', or Chamaecyparis 'Mariesii'.

2. Evergreen flowering shrubs include small-leaved Rhododendron such as 'PJM Elite' with chocolate winter foliage, Mountain Laurel, Northern Bayberry and Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

You'll find these and many more choices at Estabrook's. We look forward to helping you create your property-enhancing masterpiece!

About the Author

KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at Estabrook's consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more. Plus, don't miss her Garden Webinar series!

Kerry Ann Mendez