Technicolor Landscape

With all the rock we hauled, moved, and spread last summer, this year’s landscape work is a walk in the park, comparatively.  That’s kind of a literal way of going about it, too.  A lot lately, I’m wandering around neighborhoods, looking at my favorite yards for plant inspiration.  Or local nurseries, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.  Over the last year, I’ve been collecting data, looking for full sun plants that can handle heat and cold.  Those twelve aren’t the only good/usable/pretty plants, though.

I’ve become borderline obsessed with Russian Sage.  It’s all over around here and I’m totally envious of the mature plants I see.

A plant that is cold hardy, loves full sun, and requires little watering gets an A+ in my book.  I’ve recently added a few to our yard, and I’m impatiently waiting to put in more after siding wraps up.

In addition to non native plants, like the leafy evergreen boxwood, bright spirea, and shade loving hostas, I want to layer in native plants.  Coneflower, black-eyed Susans, and Lupine grow wild in Montana.  These pink ones will add a nice burst of color.  Coneflower

At the very least, I’ll incorporate native looking plants, because most native plants aren’t available for purchase.  I’m thinking several ornamental grasses.  Foerester’s feather reed grass performs well, as do Elijah Blue Fescue and various fountain grasses.

So I drew up a plan.  In part to show Ben exactly what I’ve got in mind.  Also because I can go plant crazy and need a plan to stay focused.  Or, for the times I go plant crazy and he wonders what the hell I’m doing with all those.  Here’s a full property plan, not at all to scale:


But because everything is better in color, this is the Wizard of Oz landscape plans, now in Technicolor:


The plan above is actually what I’ve already gotten in the ground.  Up front, along the bocce court I’ve added an assortment of evergreens, spirea, Russian sage, and grasses.  A few buffalo junipers, succulents, hosta, and hydrangea are living in the back.  Since planning (and really wanting to liven up the limestone) I’ve become a plant addict.  In my mind, I’ve got at least 50 more plants to add around the house.  To help you understand the crazy in my head, here’s a plant key to guide you.


That’s a lot of plants dotted around.


I know it’s hard to see everything, so I’ve divided the plan into quadrants to explain.  In the top right section, alongside the walkway, I’d like a mix bag of ornamental grasses and native-like flowers.  In the shaded side, a few more hosta plants to fill in the gaps.  After the siding, a row of tall grasses will border the garage side.  Which I think will look stunning against the rust steel siding.


We’ve kept the top left quarter (behind the pool house) native, so it has short grasses and native Trilobe Sumac.


Going to the bottom left, we’ve got a row of alternating fountain grass and Elijah blue fescue close to the bocce court.  Next row has Russian Sage, a Spanish Broom, three spirea, and a boxwood.  Closest to the hill are nest spruce and a Purple Leaf Sand Cherry.  Oh, and the light zig zag is to show where the hills are.


Last, between the road and driveway, another mix of creeping evergreens (to drape the rock in year round color) punctuated with Russian sage will soften the hill.  In addition to a straight line of bright green boxwood, I’d like a row of tall grasses close to the house.  They’re perfect because the upright nature doesn’t encroach on walking space.  Under the house bump outs, I want a few more grasses and low evergreens in front of the basement windows.


I’m sure I’ll find other plants I have to incorporate, but the basic plan is in place.  My most impatient self is willing the plants to mature at a rapid rate.  Fill in, little buddies.

12 thoughts on “Technicolor Landscape

  1. I’m also obsessed with Russian Sage! Sadly my yard is most;y shade right now, but we’ll be moving in a few years and I cannot wait to incorporate some of them! We need heat and cold resistant plants too -MN!

    1. Hi Allie!

      Shade is harder to get plants for. So many are annuals and I can’t justify covering that much each year. Hopefully you get your Russian sage soon.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      I think it was helpful. A way to kind of see the colors together and get a better idea of what you have or are missing. Good luck on your planning!


  2. You are making progress! I would be cautious of the Spanish Broom – it’s a member of the pea family and related to Scotch Broom, which is highly invasive and a fire hazard because of the oils in it. I tried to do a little quick checking about Montana and did find this pdf file

    Click to access BEEPbrochure20061808.pdf

    which includes Spanish Broom as invasive. You’ve probably checked all that out so sorry if I’m sounding an un-needed alarm. I’ve been cutting mimosa trees in the woods along my property before they can go to seed. They are also a member of the pea family and taking over here in Alabama.

    1. Hi Barbara!

      I knew the broom could be invasive, but didn’t know about the fire hazard. Because we have rock all around it, I’m not sure it’ll have a chance to become an issue. What do you think?

      Also, if I cut the flowers off, the plant can’t produce seeds. So that would also help reduce chances if it becoming invasive.

      Thanks for the link! I’ll have to see how it does here and decide if it needs to go.


  3. I love Russian Sage, but I find that it takes forever to mature here, so I got some Nepeta (also known as catmint) and it looks very similar and is SO HARDY!

  4. Looks great! All that stone had me worrying about it being stark and cold, but I have a feeling it will be paradise when you’re through…

    You want to know what I’m interested in an update on? The pool house/room. That is such a unique feature; just curious if you guys even go in there or what the future plan may be!

    1. Hi Lori!

      Adding that much rock had me worried, too. My goals are to soften the landscape, add color and texture, and keep it as low maintenance as possible. So far, it’s still way easier than grass, even with all the plants to water until the roots are established.

      We’ve gotten many questions about the pool house. From readers and visiting family and friends. I’ll write up a post with current pictures soon. Warning: it’s not pretty right now.


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