New Favorite Plants

Never in my life have I considered myself a garden person, until this year, that is.  I was bitten by the radioactive spider that makes me want all.the.plants.  Seriously, it’s becoming an addiction, stopping at various garden centers, wandering through rows of plants, reading tags, taking notes, and almost always returning home with at least one plant.  I made a plan, that I fully intended to stick to, but with so many amazing plants, I’ve come to the decision to buy what I like and will work in our conditions, because I will find a place to plant it.


Take this small area along the front of the house.  My initial idea was to plant a low evergreen, but with the addition of the walkway, every juniper grows too wide.  A change in plans was necessary, and I like the idea of a wider variety of plants, colors, and textures.


Still wanting year-round greenery, a Yew between the windows will fill the area, but can be trimmed to maintain size and shape.


Working as a groundcover, dark green and purple Ajuga will spread up to three feet wide, covering a decent amount with a small plant.


In front of the windows, Rockfoil is supposed to be an evergreen, even in our cold winter climate.  This low growing, mounding,  hen and chick looking plant should max out at 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide, which won’t obstruct the view out the window or need much maintenance.  The bright, spring green is almost the complete opposite from the adjacent dark Ajuga.


In addition to wanting/needing and evergreen base to cover rock expanses, adding colorful shrubs and flowering perennials adds character.  If this Smoke Tree makes it through the winter, I’m ready to declare it my favorite for the dark, matte red/purple leaves, and lace like ‘smoke’ plumes.


Salvia is another favorite because it thrives in full sun without needing excessive watering.  The bold purple flowers really stand out among the other plants.


A few Golden Barberry offer bright yellow and lime green leaves.  I love the contrast against the dark junipers, but the color reminds Ben of over watered, dying plants; to each his own.


Planted near early summer blooming peonies, late summer bloomer, Coneflower, is super drought tolerant as well as a hard-working pollinator.

Purple-ConeflowerAs with the front, starting with creeping junipers will give a good base, but adding a variety of other perennials has benefits.  First, the various root systems, as well as the rock layer, help stabilize the hill.  Secondly, more pockets of plants will absorb rain water, prevention excess runoff.  Third, give visual interest and textures to the hill throughout the seasons.  When selecting plants, I’ve been careful to choose plants with pretty or interesting foliage.  That way, even when not in bloom, it still looks nice.  Here, a small Lavender and Angeline Stonecrop have very different looks.


By planting lower growing plants to the front, and taller shrubs near the back, each plant is still visible.  At the front edge, Artemisia, a silvery green dry loving plant softens the hard rocks.  Once mature, it should spill over the base a little and become dotted with tiny flowers.


In the back, the Viburnum planted this May has already grown by leaps and bounds.  Next year, it just might be covered in snowball sized flowers!


Right next to that Viburnum is a Catmint that has gone wild, in the best way.


Here’s that it looked like just over one month ago:


For the majority of the plantings, I’ve selected full sun, drought tolerant varieties because we want a pretty, but still resource friendly landscape.  In the small, only truly shaded area we have, evaporation isn’t as much of a concern, so I’ve added a few slightly less water wise plants.  Hostas and Coral Bells still don’t need much water to live, but flourish with deeper watering.


By far the most water drinking plant I have is this Hydrangea.  For the nearly head size blooms, I think it’s a fair trade-off.


At the end of the back walkway, I’ve started a full sun-loving flower garden.  It includes a reed grass, red day lilies, Catmint, poppy, Delphinium, and a Petite Snow Butterfly Bush, bottom left.


Watching this (and the other plants) grow and bloom is exciting, which is why I’m hooked on gardening.


Near the butterfly bush is an American Dream Coreopsis, with thread like stems and leaves and dainty pink flowers.


Another Coreopsis, this time creamy white Big Bang round out the full sun area, at least for now.  I’m giving it a year to grow and fill in before adding anything else to the mix.


Needing more color to the left of the waterfall, I’ve added another Coreopsis, this time hot pink Show Stopper.


As I continue researching, my plant want list grows.  My next step is to include native grasses, perhaps Switchgrass and Little Bluestem, dotted over the hillsides.  For native plants and guides, Prairie Nursery has been extremely helpful to this novice gardener, giving plant conditions and a map of native areas.  If you have any plant suggestions, feel free to shoot them to me.

14 thoughts on “New Favorite Plants

  1. So beautiful!! It’s so interesting to see a different landscape. I live in Raleigh NC and my yard is shaded with giant oaks. A completely different challenge!

  2. I remember when you made your plan. You surely are hooked now! It looks like you are doing a fine job. I’m so glad you shared some outside pictures – I’ve been wondering how things were growing.

  3. The rocky look is really growing on me! I’m in the south, so this is a completely different type of landscaping from what I’m used to, but it looks fantastic! I didn’t realize so much could grow from and fill out a rock covering. I’m really interested in it now as a low maintenance, eco-friendly, and unique-looking option for a yard. I hate trying to keep grassy lawns watered and mowed!

    1. Hi MEL!

      Filling in with tons of plants really adds interest, before it was plain. I can say it’s so nice not mowing/watering/maintaining a yard. So much cheaper and saves precious water resources.


  4. Do you have problems with deer? I planted a yew in Evaro (northwest of Missoula) and the blasted deer ate it totally!! You’d think it would be poisonous to them, but, of course, they also ate my yucca!!! LOVE your ideas! We recently moved to Clinton with much MORE sun, so going through the planning stage now.

    1. Hi Jeanne!

      Yes, but mostly in the back. The two yews are right next to the front of the house, and we’ve never seen them get as close. They ate your yucca?! That’s one thing they don’t touch here, at all! Sounds like you have some fun ahead of you. Enjoy the planning stage.


  5. I’d add one or two or three 🙂 of the many varieties of milkweed. .Asclepias is the genus name and they are sold at prairie nursery . 5 billion planted plants in the U.S. Are the pargeted amount to save the monarch butterfly . That is the only plant that the monarch caterpillar eats. You can’t spray weed killer around it though because of the caterpillars. My boys love looking at the caterpillars in the plants. We’ve even found beautiful monarch chrysalis’ under our overhang!

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