Add whimsy to garden with a funky plant

"Many gardens display plants that are unusual, strange or unique, setting them apart from the predictable perennial or annual beds."

I am a fan of funky — whether it is twisty, curly, swirly or lollipop.  Many gardens display plants that are unusual, strange or unique, setting them apart from the predictable perennial or annual beds.

I think every garden should have an element of fun, whimsy and a bit of the unexpected to bring it to life.

There are many plants that can help you achieve this.  Many coniferous (evergreen) or deciduous (loses foliage) shrubs are available to become that nifty centre piece or fill a corner of the garden that has been under used.

One such plant is the Harry Lauder Walking Stick (Corylus Avellanna “Contorta”).  This is a shrub, which grows 8 to 10 feet tall so you will need a little bit of space.  The main interest from this plant comes from the corkscrew, curly stems which are set off against a snowy winter landscape.  In the spring it develops a yellowish-brown catkin (its blossom) which hangs from the branches like a dangling cord.  The shrub is developed by grafting onto a rootstock so care must be taken to remove any suckers that develop at the base of the plant.  The Harry Lauder can be grown from zone 4 to 8 in well drained soil with full sun to part shade.  It also comes as a purple cultivar called Red Majestic which has more summer appeal.

Weeping trees are a popular centre piece for feature beds.  They come in many varieties, colors and styles.

Weeping mulberry, birch, and larch are just a few varieties that could add interest to your garden.   Be aware when choosing a specimen that you check the size, making sure if space is limited a dwarf variety is used.

Another choice of plant could be the Hinoki Cypress a dwarf evergreen with flat scale like needles shaped like teddy bear ears. This conifer is often used in Japanese inspired gardens.  The dwarf variety (Nana Gracilis or Nana Lutea) will stay under 5 feet making it an easy addition to any sized garden.   If it’s color your looking for the variety Fernspray Gold has subtle golden leaves ending in a fern like point making it very distinctive.   This shrub does best with full sun and well-drained moist soil.

Many conifers pine, juniper or spruces can be pruned to show off an amazing trunk structure or bark pattern underneath.   There are conifers which produce amazing color with the new spring growth, have variegation in their foliage or turn on the gold for amazing fall color.    They can be painstakingly molded into creative topiaries setting off the garden in a more artistic light.

As with any type of gardening some planning is crucial, taking care to check for correct growing zones, light and water requirements, pest and disease resistant and mature size of the plant chosen making sure it will fit into your space.   All this may seem like a lot of trouble to go to when adding another dimension to a garden, but trust me every time you stroll by your funky, curly or twisty feature you will smile and stand back to admire the uniqueness  of the plant you have chosen.

Betty Drover operates a local garden business and shares this space with business partner Patti Siddall every other Friday. Contact: 250-364-1005

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