Simple Plant Combinations Leave Lasting Impressions

Over the years I have noticed that simple combinations of plants leave lasting impressions.
For instance, on both sides of an entryway in front of a house in my neighborhood, three plants alternate in twisting, parallel rows in repeating succession. There is variegated ‘Old Gold’ euonymus, followed by prostrate rosemary and then bedding begonia. The euonymus has brilliant yellow and green leaves, the rosemary has dark green scaly foliage and blue flowers, and the begonia has bronze foliage and red flowers.
This combination features the primary colors of red, yellow and blue, with plenty of green blended throughout. All are kept at a height of 12 to 18 inches. This combination is memorable and makes for a bright and friendly entrance.
Another neighbor has made a hedge of three roses: pink ‘Iceberg,’ yellow ‘Henry Fonda’ and orange ‘Gingersnap.’ The colors work well together, as ‘Henry Fonda’ is as true a yellow as you will find in a rose, and ‘Gingersnap’ is a deep orange or tangerine. Pink ‘Iceberg’ is flushed with white and is the most prolific bloomer of the three. In any event, there is a soft and inviting aspect to this hedge – a chiffon and pastel presence that is hard to resist.
Roses make excellent landscape subjects and need not be relegated to their own private sector of the garden. Frankly, I think it tires the eye to have to wade through a batch of many different roses, with a predictable variety of colors, each interesting in its own right but losing something when combined with so many other unique specimens. Find a rose you really like and grow five or seven of the same cultivar together. You will discover that “mass appeal” refers not only to pleasing the masses but to the appeal a mass planting can bring.
Still another neighbor is partial to multicolored roses and has surrounded his front-yard garden with them. Along one side, next to the driveway, are ‘Hot Tamale’ miniature roses, which have flowers in orange, red and pink all at the same time. Along the other side of this garden, growing in light shade, are the remarkable butterfly roses (Rosa mutabilis), which are whimsical, single-layered flowers in yellow, orange and pink. Along the back are a row of ‘Judy Garland’ floribundas, blooming in yellow, orange and red.
It is a mystery to me why more landscaping or hedging is not done with floribunda, shrub and miniature roses, since there are so many types that flower most of the year, come in all colors and sizes, and require less pruning than common hedge plants. Privet, boxwood, eugenia, pittosporum, rhaphiolepis and photinia, if allowed, will flower briefly in the spring but are planted primarily to achieve a formal look, which necessitates constant pruning.
TIP OF THE WEEK: Some of the most exciting new plants are in the hydrangea group and include such varieties as ‘Angel Lace’ and ‘Big Smile.’ These are lacecap, as opposed to mop head or pom-pom, varieties. ‘Angel Lace’ is unique among hydrangeas in having rings of large pink flowers – around cones of diminutive blooms – that are edged in white. The outer flowers of ‘Big Smile’ have distinctive, serrated edges and a blushing pink color that contrasts well with unusual burgundy foliage. To dry hydrangea flowers, wait until they have a papery texture before detaching them, together with their stems, from the plant. Pluck off all foliage and hang them upside down in a warm, dark area, with excellent air circulation, for two weeks. To prevent colors from fading, do not display dried hydrangeas in an overly sunny location.

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