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NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO CONSIDER LANDSCAPE CHANGES

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published 2/28/14

I was so excited when dwarf re-blooming lilacs were first introduced. I planted several in my yard. They grew well and bloomed, but their display was never remarkable and the shrubs were unattractive. Last year I took out all but one and plan to remove the remaining one this spring. This leaves me still yearning for a pretty, fragrant lilac that doesn=t get too big.

Maybe I should try one of the hybrid lilacs in the >Fairytale= series. Unlike the standard lilacs that grow to a height of 10 to 15 feet tall, Bailey Nurseries has introduced several dwarf hybrid lilacs. The one in the series that has piqued my interest is >Sugar Plum Fairy=. The most compact in the Fairytale series, it grows to a height and width of only 4 to 5 feet and produces fragrant rosy-lilac flowers. Other Afairies@ in the series includes Thumbelina, Tinkerbelle, and Prince Charming. All are very hardy and require full sun for good bloom.

I have always wanted to give mockorange (also known as Philadelphus) a try because when it blooms it is covered with pretty white flowers that give off a wonderful sweet orange fragrance. However, the large size (10 to 12 feet tall) of the traditional mockorange shrubs has held me back. The First Editions Program introduced >Snowwhite Fantasy= in 2011. It is a smaller mockorange, growing to a height of 5 to 6 feet and blooming both in spring and again in summer, producing pretty blowsy 2-inch double flowers.

While smaller than the traditional mockoranges, >Snowwhite Fantasy= is still too big for my landscape. A better fit would be >Miniature Snowflake

, a dwarf mockorange that only grows to a height and width of 2.5 to 3 feet with a compact, mounded habit. The double white flowers are produced in early summer.

There are other small shrubs to consider. I am drawn to the smallest dwarf shrubs being introduced by Spring Meadow Nursery. They are great for tucking into smaller landscapes or even perennial flower beds. >Tiny Wine= is one of these. This is a new dwarf ninebark (Physocarpus) that reaches a height of only 3 to 4 feet. It is the smallest ninebark available and is a compact bushy shrub with dark bronze-maroon leaves and dainty white flowers. Also in the Atiny@ category is a mountain hydrangea called Tiny Tuff Stuff . It grows to a truly tiny 1.5 to 2 feet tall and wide. The lace-cap flowers range in color from a soft lavender blue, to pink, to white.

Also in the diminutive category is Spring Meadow=s Lo & Behold >Pink Micro Chip= a new butterfly bush (Buddleia) that grows to a height of only 18 to 24 inches and gives forth an abundance of flower spikes full of tiny pink blooms. This compact little bush is non-invasive, drought tolerant, heat tolerant, and long blooming. The flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

With spring right around the corner, now is a great time to consider changes to your landscape plantings. What doesn=t work for you? What would you like to try? It may be hard to decide a plant must go, but why stick with an eyesore or a maintenance headache? Removal gives you the chance to try something new that will hopefully add to the beauty of your landscape.

REMINDER: Gardeners with spring fever should consider attending the WSU Extension=s Spring Garden Day workshop on March 8th. The day-long program starts with keynote presentations about butterflies and bees. These will be followed by a variety of gardening classes presented by WSU Master Gardeners and other local gardening experts. The cost of the program is $20. If you are interested in attending, call 509-735-3551.

Published: 2/28/2014 10:08 AM

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