New on the Scene – Plants For Bay Area Gardens
Ornamental grasses and purple Salvias in combination at the J. Montgomery studio garden

We admit, we love plants.

On being asked our favorite plant, our planting design team became distressed.  We asked, “Only one?”  How could we ever choose?  To us, each one is stunning in its own way, in the right place any of them would shine.  But that’s not to say we don’t have a whole stack of favorites… or that we aren’t enamored when new plants appear on the scene.  So, we’ve decided to share our favorite new selections for zones 8-11 (winter lows of 15 degrees Fahrenheit).  These plants have become popular in the US within the last 5 years, and so far show outstanding performance in the landscape.  Also, they are available at your local Bay Area nurseries.  Enjoy~

Lomandra (Mat Rush)  –  Australia

An evergreen ornamental grass solution, Lomandra doesn’t go through winter dormancy or require cutting back in fall, so your landscape maintains interest year-round.  We love these plants for their indestructible nature and range of beautiful leaf types.  One of the newest on the market, the unusual variegated ‘Platinum Beauty’ is our new beloved at our studio garden.  Over 50 varieties exist, but these are a few of our favorites, all growing 2 foot to 3 feet around:

Lomandra 'Seascape'

Lomandra Seascape

Lomandra 'Breeze'

Lomandra Breeze

Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty'

Lomandra Platinum Beauty

Lavandula ‘Meerlo’ and ‘Platinum Blonde’

Speaking of variegation… this is something new!  Incredible but true, variegated lavenders are the trend.  These little shrubs aren’t just waiting for flowers anymore, they’re stunning all year with intensely patterned leaves.  Put in a pot with black Ipomaea vine for the ultimate contrast, or combine with any color combination for a bright compliment.  Both about 2 feet round, they are easy to pop into any sunny garden.  What’s the difference between the two?  The leaf shape, as far as we can tell… Meerlo (top) has a ruffled leaf margins while Platinum Blonde (bottom) is straight.  Which one to pick? That’s personal preference… have more insight? Let us know!

Digiplexis®  Illumination Series  –  Developed by Charles Valin of the UK

A modern take on the classic garden favorite, this hybrid foxglove has many advantages and is a completely new look!  Crossed with wildflower Isoplexis of the Canary Islands, Digiplexis® is a longer-lived foxglove with a long bloom season, a longer life span, and good sun tolerance.  A little more compact than Digitalis, it reaches 2- 3 feet with its bloom, 18” to 2’ wide on the leaf base.  And it comes in unique colors for ultimate versatility.  We hope for more colors and varieties in the near future.  These are our favorites:

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame'

Digiplexis® Illumination Flame

Digiplexis 'Illumination Apricot'

Digiplexis® Illumination Apricot

Digiplexis 'Illumination Raspberry'

Digiplexis® Illumination Raspberry

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ – 2001 Karen Reiter Stever, ItSaul Plants, Atlanta, GA

An evergreen stunner for shade!  Unlike its relatives including its parent Mahonia eurobracteata, it lacks thorns (hence the name).  Plants resemble layered ferns, with lush green leaves and yellow summer flowers.  Though if you aren’t wanting the color, it’s easy to pinch back buds when they appear.  While they appreciate regular water, one of our team members has grown them successfully under very dry shade conditions, and they look gorgeous!  If you’re planting in a container, use a large one (24” deep) to accommodate its hearty root system.  Can reach 4’x4’ if given the space.

Salvia ‘Wish’ Series

Salvias are one of the most popular genera in the horticultural world, and for good reason.  It seems there is a Salvia for every garden, and their hardy nature and beautiful flowers are a sure win.  But a totally new Salvia is something to get excited about!  And one that can take some shade is really a plus.  At 3 feet around these are a lot of bang for your buck!  When buying, know that a portion of proceeds from this series is donated to the Make-a-Wish foundation through the patent provider, Plant Growers Australia.  Who could wish for more?

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'

Salvia Wendy’s Wish  –  Discovered 2005 Wendy Smith, Sue Templeton, AU  –  Developed by PGA

The first natural hybrid found by Wendy Smith in her garden, Victoria AU.  This is a must-have for any hummingbird lover.  The plant is large and flowers nearly year-round, though it is deciduous in colder areas it comes right back every spring for another show

Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

Ember’s Wish  –  Developed by PGA  –  Named by Paul and Lynn Shegog

For anyone who loves coral flowers, this color is delicious!  Just as florific as Wendy’s Wish but with a Hot New Look.  Did we mention the hummingbirds?

Salvia 'Love and Wishes'

Love and Wishes  –  Developed by John Fisher, Orange AU  –  Distributed by PGA

Currently planted front-and-center here at our studio garden, this one lends a new definition to ‘royal purple’.  With rich purple flowers and deep purple calyxes, we think it’s drop-dead gorgeous next to Lomandra ‘Platinum Beauty’.

Live in the East Bay/Danville area and looking to spice up your garden?  We have the answers to your questions! 

Contact us on our website or view our Houzz profile to book a consultation.

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