The right mix of plants adds to the symmetry and serenity of a garden.

The right mix of plants adds to the symmetry and serenity of a garden.

Multi-purpose plants help achieve garden goals

For those who want their yard to look lovely with very little maintenance, this type of garden can fill the bill.

There’s definitely a serenity offered by a more formal landscape where the eye flows easily across drifts of plant specimens and through neatly sculpted shrubs. It’s usually seen as a whole with symmetry being the name of the game.

For those who want their yard to look lovely with very little maintenance, this type of garden can fill the bill. For those of us who are passionate about plants, it doesn’t hold our interest for very long. We’re looking for something more exciting.

Developing just the right mix of plants is essential to provide a changing portrait to delight the senses and take us on a breathtaking journey through Mother Nature’s seasons. I believe I’m getting closer to this goal. The importance of multi-purpose plants has become very apparent in this quest.

My dwarf conifers and trees form the garden bones so I’ve made sure there are different heights, colours and textures to create interest even through the winter months.

If prizes were awarded, I’d give first in this category to the dwarf blue spruce (picea pungens) because it holds its colour beautifully, is hardy to Zone 3, withstands heavy snow load and is of no interest to our deer population.

Blue spruce are distinctive not only for their colour but for their prominent light brown winter buds, which swell in late spring and burst into new growth of an intense silver-blue. They are an adaptable plant which can take drier conditions than most other spruce and there’s a variety to fit any space in a Kootenay landscape – from the ‘St. Mary’s Broom’ at 2 ft. x 2 ft., ‘Blue Globe’ at 4 ft. x 4 ft, ‘Montgomery’ at 7ft. x 4ft. to the ‘Fat Albert’ at 30 ft. tall and wide. Yes, the spruce bud worm is a bit of a nuisance but controllable.

I’ve chosen several varieties of flowering shrubs to provide substance. We’ve recently reviewed my favourite in this category – the hydrangea.

But I should also mention the fothergilla is another winner with its white bottle brush flowers in spring and spectacular fall colour. I’m also pleased to report the ‘Bloomerang’ lilac (syringa x) I planted this spring has lived up to expectations, blooming in spring and again through summer.  It should continue to provide fragrant purple flowers until the frost arrives.

My Japanese maples add to the shifting colours; the burgundy leafed varieties such as the ‘Red Dragon’ and ‘Crimson Queen’ change to a deep translucent red and the green leafed maples turn glorious autumn colours.

I’ve just started to accessorize the garden with perennials and am making an effort to include different varieties that bloom either in spring, summer or fall as well as specimens that offer fabulous coloured foliages. The annuals have filled in empty spaces in the meantime.

Once this garden season has ended, I’ll be able to determine where additional colour is needed. Then, the quest for perfection will begin again!

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

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