• Blue Star Juniper and Ajuga, 3 Beautiful Blue Plants That Will Survive a Heat Wave, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/07/13/blue-plants/(opens in a new tab) #plants #gardening #blueplants #droughttolerant #plantsforsun #toughplants #heatwave
    Plants & Gardening

    3 Beautiful Blue Plants That Will Survive a Heat Wave

    As much of the U.S. (and Europe) copes with warmer heat waves, you may be looking for plants that can thrive in hot sun. Blue plants often fit this profile since they create a waxy coating that protects them from hot sun and helps them hold water. And what’s even more enjoyable for us is that waxy coating makes them appear blue, thus creating an unusually pretty accent in the garden.

    So if you want a tough, interesting looking plant, try these three below. They pair well with dark-leafed plants or boldy colored perennials.

    Blue Star Juniper
    Blue Star Juniper, 3 Beautiful Blue Plants That Will Survive a Heat Wave, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/07/13/blue-plants/(opens in a new tab) #plants #gardening #blueplants #droughttolerant #plantsforsun #toughplants #heatwave

    I love this little sub-shrub because it’s hardy down to zone 4, evergreen, and wonderfully dense in its foliage. That means it shades weeds out easily. Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ also requires very little supplemental water, which is handy if you’re planting a city parking strip or rock garden. Also, it won’t grow beyond about a foot or so in height but spreads gently in all directions. I have five lining the front of a sunny perennial bed and they work well with purple sedums, ajuga, or salvias (see top photo).

    Blue Surprise Falsecypress
    Blue Surprise Falsecypress, 3 Beautiful Blue Plants That Will Survive a Heat Wave, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/07/13/blue-plants/(opens in a new tab) #plants #gardening #blueplants #droughttolerant #plantsforsun #toughplants #heatwave

    Blue Surprise False Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’) is a small evergreen tree that stuns in the landscape. It’s bluer in color than vertical juniper trees, albeit those are pretty too. But I like this tree because it’s very behaved in its form. You won’t ever need to prune it unless it creates a few dead lower branches. And it adds a lovely spire-like accent to a mixed shrub border. I have two flanking a small circular patio in an area blasted by hot sun. Hardy to zone 5 and gets to about 10 feet tall at maturity. Great for front entrances or where space is tight.

    Blue Limber Pine
    Blue Limber Pine, 3 Beautiful Blue Plants That Will Survive a Heat Wave, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2022/07/13/blue-plants/(opens in a new tab) #plants #gardening #blueplants #droughttolerant #plantsforsun #toughplants #heatwave

    I normally don’t care for pine trees. They often drop needles and sometimes need pruning at the tips, but I love this Blue Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Cesarini Blue’). It grows in a small, puffy, pyramidal shape so it’s great for screening out unwanted views. Also, it’s hardy to zone 4 and can take dry areas. In fact, since it’s a pine, it will probably do better in a garden in Colorado with dryer, colder winters than in the rainy Pacific Northwest. At maturity, it tops out at 20 feet but during the first several years will hang out at around 10 feet. Unusual specimen.

    I realized in writing this that I happened to choose three conifers so in a future post, I’ll spotlight some blue-leafed perennials. I’m thinking hosta, euphorbia, rue, and more. Until then, happy planting!

  • Shaded Sunny Border, How to Garden in a Shaded Sunny Border, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/07/shaded-sunny-border/ #gardening #plants #shade #sun #border #garden #soil #clay
    Plants & Gardening

    How to Garden in a Shaded Sunny Border

    I have this tricky garden area on the eastern boundary of my yard. It has a huge oak tree. It has a lawson cypress. The trees shade out an eastern and southern exposure until about two o’clock when the hot afternoon sun blasts through. Then all hell breaks loose. It’s the most difficult area of my yard in which to garden. A shaded sunny border.

    A Heavy Wet Soil Baked in the Sun

    Part of the problem is a massively tall oak tree grows along the fence in this part of the garden. The tree isn’t all that healthy. It’s old, it has dead branches, broken limbs, but the squirrels and birds make their nests in it. Plus, it gives us a pleasant screen of privacy. I don’t have good reason to remove it.

    The problem is because the tree’s old and established, its roots have sucked much of the nutrients from the soil. There’s a vast network in its dripline below. Also, the soil there is very heavy, clay-like and clumpy. Buttercups often grow like wildfire. Most of my yard has sandy soil but not here along the fence. It’s all silty clay.

    A Shaded Yet Sunny Border Situation

    Also, because of its dense canopy, most of the plants sit in heavy dappled shade before receiving a heat scourge for about four-six hours until the sun fades.

    This has created a dilemma. I have dappled shade in the morning and full hot sun in the afternoon. What grows well in half-day sun? Some plants do and I’ve had success with some, but others not so much. At the very back, I’ve planted hydrangeas and rhododendrons, shade plants that are happy and healthy. But sunny perennials toward the middle have struggled. I thought they would receive enough sun but they didn’t. Part-shade plants in the middle struggled as well. I thought they’d receive enough shade but they didn’t. And so the border is a constant work-in-progress.

    I’ve had success with the ‘Halcyon’ hostas and Japanese forest grass and fuchsia magellanica near the front edge. But the acanthus struggle in the August sun, as do the astilbes. My bugbane does well for awhile and then declines. My heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ and ‘Forever Purple’ are pretty much success stories but they’re out of scale with what I already have planted.

    Ideas for the Future

    So this is what I’m thinking. Move the hostas and acanthus back, a few feet deeper where the shade lasts about an hour longer than the rest of the border. Moving the acanthus will be tricky as its tubular roots like to break off and regrow big new leaves. But if I can relocate those workhouses, I may be able to arrange the heucheras and forest grass into a scheme of half-day sun perennials. I’m also considering tiarellas and daylilies and lady’s mantle for the front edge.

    Lastly, I know I’ll have to fluff up the soil with some compost. And to get the best results, I’ll need to mix it into the clay soil. By the way, a lot of newbie gardeners think that mixing in sand, the most porous kind of soil, would be the way to lighten up the clay. But the opposite is true. If you mix sand with clay, you will get cement. The particles are all small and of similar size, locking them tightly together. It makes the soil extra heavy and non-porous. To lighten clay soil, you have to add particles of varying sizes with organic matter. That mix will attract insects and worms and keep the soil aerated and healthy.

    I’ve been putting off this project because there’s an overwhelming amount of work to do. But’s time. I’m ready for a renovation. So my question to readers is what other plants should I use? What ideas do you have? Let me know by sending me a tweet on Twitter!