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Archive for January, 2010

Top 10 Kansas City Landscape Plants

1. Allegheny Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophylloides ‘Allegheny’)Viburnum-x-'Alleghany'

This plant works great when you need a large shrub to add structure to the back of a bed or as a screen in the back yard.  it is not tidy enough to be used as a specimen plant or in any highlighted position With care it can grow to 12 feet tall in less than 5 years.  I have several planted as a screen against a shed in my backyard and I have pushed them hard – but they are over 15 feet tall in just 5 years. 

The shrub has thick 6” leaves that are thickly textured and beautifully colored.    It has a surprising delicate white flower that persists for Most of May and then ripen into bright red fruits by October.  I call it semi-evergreen because about 1/2 the leaves stay attached for most of the .

This is one of my favorite and I recently used it in a  very fun project that turned out very well (despite the quality of the photographs).  These will grow beautiful and provide the perfect screen for this deck and offers an alternative to the overused juniper and arborvitae.  

Kansas City Landscape planting of Viburnum 

 

2. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Sweet Bay Magnolia in Kansas City

Magnolias often come and go as peoples favorite .  However, this one has and always will be my  favorite for planting in landscapes.  It is better suited than many for our zone and grows luxuriously well.  My favorite form is when it is grown as a multi-stemmed shrub.  It has a striking upward growing habit that gives it a strong architectural presence and lends itself well to be a focal plant in landscape planting. 

I have two of these planted as pillars on the front corners of my house.  They have performed very well for about 4 years now and have grown taller than the roof of my raised ranch. 

 

 

 

 

3. Hardy Banana  ‘Musa Basjoo.

The Hardy Banana plant is a plant that grows VERY well in .  I have had them growing at my house for going on 4 years and a customer has had them successfully growing for over 8 years. 

These pictures show them growing in my yard in early July.  By September they had pushed leaves higher than the roof of the porch you can see there.  That is approx 18 feet high. 

Musa Basjoo in Kansas City P7090106 Phone 036

 

Although these look very tropical they are easily grown  even in our unpredictable winters.   They will die back to the ground in the and begin to grow again in the spring.  The more protection you give them the bigger they will get the following year because you will protect more of the plant – giving it a head start on next years growth. I try to protect several of the biggest so they will grow as large as possible the following Spring.  I protect them by building 4’ tall  cages around them and filling them with leaves.  This si the secret to really big .  However, even unprotected will reach 10’  

Another bonus – they reproduce madly.   You will easily triple your number of every year as new pups sprout around the base of the mother plant.

 

4. Walker’s Low Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)walkers low catmint 2

I would choose this plant as one of my all time favorite perennials to use as a llandscaper.  Not because of how showy it it or how rare it is  or for any ONE attribute.  Rather,  because it has so many very good uses and it has never let me down.

This plant has small bluish green leaves that are highly fragrant leaves that smells like mint.  The plant grows in a mound about 1 foot high and 2 feet across.  however after its first season in the bed you will not be able to tell its shape because it will have spread through runners and be taking up much more space than that.  In fact this may be the only time I would not use catmint – is if you need it to stay perfectly contained because it is so hardy and likes to spread.  The flower begins blooming in June.  If about 3 weeks later you shear off the old blooms you can easily extend its blooming into late summer.  The blooms are a pale lavender and spread across the plant like a purple mist.

It was named Perennial of the Year in 2007 for its versatility and hardiness.

5. False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

 

I have been in love with this plant since the first time I saw it in full bloom when driving past a very neglected baptisia false indigo in the middle of July.  Everything else in the had died including what looked like remnants of stella d’ oro’s and some poorly placed care-free roses.  I quickly took a mental note and the next time I was at my favorite nursery I bought a couple

I was not immediately impressed.  The plant just stood there for the entire season.  The next year it was about the same.  But, by the third year it had really taken off and is now one of the people always notice when they walk around and see that part of my .

Baptisia has since proved its worthiness in many designs and ahs often become a favorite plant to use in landscape designs.  It does have it quirks though.  Number one – it is a plant that you have to plant and leave it alone.  it does not transplant well once it is established in your bed because of it unique rooting structure (which is also responsible for its durability.  Secondly – I have found it is incredibly sensitive to any kind of sprays.  In my incessant meddling I am always trying things that will supercharge my . During one of these ‘experiments’ I was spraying a mixture of compost tea and iron on  few plant in my around the Baptisia – and it turned black over night – the entire plant.  The plant recovered fully – but it took a while.  I have since learned that any foliar spray will have varying degrees of the same effect.

6.  Little Henry Sweetspire (Itea Virginica)Henry's Garnett Sweetspire

This shrub is a great plant that fits into almost every landscape in some part.  In order for a plant to become a favorite of mine, it has to be versatile, tough and at least interesting in sweetspire fall foliageall season.  Sweetspire does this.  It is deciduous shrub that can grow up to 5 foot tall in a roughly globular fashion.  There is a very similar variety call Little Henry’s Sweetspire that is nearly identical – but more compact.  This shrub has two times of the year that it is a knockout.  One time is in early June when it shows off its long beautiful blooms.   It is equally beautiful in the fall when the foliage turns into a striking shade of crimson…and…the leaves persist well into mid .  

 

7. Drift Roses (Rosa ‘Meijocos’)

drift rosesI will have to admit that although I hate to admit it I do love Knock Out Roses.  I was one of their first big proponents and had a bush that was kind of secretly handed to me before they were publicly being sold.  However, in the last 10 years they have become victims of their own success and are now way over planted and used in every subdivision entrance, every front yard bed and around every park sign.  Now I feel a little guilty when I  reach out for the knock-out rose once again for the customer that says they want low maintenance year-round color.  There just is not another plant that can match up in those situations – unless – you were looking for something smaller.

From the same breeders who gave us the knockout rose we now have the Drift rose.  This is essentially a groundcover rose (around 3 feet high) with all of the great benefits of the knockout rose, but in a  smaller package.  It blooms from early spring until the first , it is disease resistant, and it is extremely cold hardy. 

I find it works great to line a walkway with when you do not want the height offered by a knockout rose.  It can also work great planted at the edge of a rocky wall.

 

 

I am going to continue this list – so check back soon – or better yet sign-up here to get regular updates.

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Kansas City Landscaping dodged a bullet

City gardeners can breathe a sigh of relief that we did not reach the forecasted lows last of week of -20. For many years, we have been lulled into thinking that we may have shifted into zone 6. However, it only takes one very to ensure that we are truly a area. The plant hardiness zones are based on the average lowest temperatures for a 10 year period. We are about to reset those zone maps if we approach -20 degrees. are rated to their zones based on laboratory tests as well as the experiences of growers in the fields. rated as hardy to generally survive low temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees. Zone 6 are only expected to survive to -10 degrees.

Of course, zones are only part of the answer to how your will during this cold snap. Zones define large areas, but not small microclimates that exist around your home. If your lie in a low lying area or out on a windswept plain, they are going to have considerably more exposure to cold temperatures than if they are nestled in a protected courtyard, along a south facing wall or on the wayward side of a hill.

That being said, many in City are going to suffer from this cold. of Show-Me Horticulture and I were talking about what effect this could have on . We both agreed that a few of the standouts are that have started being popular at retail nurseries lately despite being unproven (or proven poorly) to thrive with very cold winters such as this years. A few that are going to be strongly affected are southern Magnolias such as Bracken Brown Beautys, , azaleas, rhododendrons and other . These are all better suited to Zone 6. They may have done quite well in City the last several years, but will be well-tested this to see if they have enough protection to survive the extremes.

Even a few proven will still be stressed. Boxwoods, yews, and many will likely show some damage come next spring from the prolonged cold combined with dry winds that we have experienced over the last several weeks. Another group of that will very likely show some signs of stress will be some of the ornamental grasses such as the ornamental fescues, the Japanese Silver grasses and the fountain grasses. Some of the larger such as , Golden Tree, dogwoods and redbuds could suffer some superficial damage to outermost branches as well.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to protect your now. If your went into the relatively healthy and unstressed they will have a much better chance of survival than if they were stressed already. Newly planted will have a harder time than older, more established . The snow that is insulating the ground is the biggest protection we have right now and this can be bolstered if you are inclined to pile snow around the crowns of your most valuable . Another option that can be helpful is to build a windscreen around to help protect them. Lastly, to help bounce back as much as possible, give them a good slow soaking of water as soon as the ground thaws and repeat at least monthly throughout the . This will help immensely as your begin to heal their wounds.

This spring will be quite revealing as we learn a lesson of what truly are able to survive City’s coldest temperatures. We will be better gardeners if we observe and learn from what nature teaches this week and choose that will thrive in City even during when it is at its coldest.

If you have any questions, please feel free to visit me at www.HamonsLandscaping.com or posting questions as a comment to this blog post. I enjoy talking to other plant lovers and answering any questions you might have.

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