Digging Deeper Vol. 9

For those of you, like us, who have limited space to utilize in your landscape, plant breeders in recent years have intensified their focus on selecting “dwarf” varieties of many popular plants, shrubs and trees so that all gardeners can grow more of these specimens in the landscape and even in containers on patios and decks.  Species that would typically dominate a smaller-sized landscape are significantly reduced in height and width so that they will fit nicely in a tightly-budgeted space plan.

The term “dwarf” is relative, however, so pay close attention to the growth dimension noted on the description tag of the plant you choose to make certain that it fits to scale with your garden.  For instance, a dwarf ‘Little Gem’ Magnolia grandiflora will likely grow to 15-20 feet tall, which is still much reduced in size compared to our native Southern magnolia, which easily reaches 40-60 feet in height and the largest ones may grow to 100 feet or more.

Some of my dwarf purchases this year include normally tall-growing perennials Mexican bush sage (‘Santa Barbara’ Salvia leucantha ), tall verbena (‘Little One’ Verbena bonariensis), and shasta daisy (‘Snowcap’ Leucanthemum x superbum).  My most recent addition to the garden is a dwarf butterfly bush (‘Flutterby Petite Tutti Frutti’ Buddleia), which grows to a height and spread of 2-2.5 feet as compared to a normal size of 6-8 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide.  All of these additions to my front “cottage garden” landscape should fit in nicely, with all of our many specimens grown in various sizes of containers.

Some other very popular reduced-size specimens include numerous shrub roses such as the ‘Knockout’ series, crape myrtles such as the ‘Dazzle’ series and the purple-foliaged, pink-to-red-flowering fringe tree (Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum).  There’s still time to fit some of these “dwarfs” and many others into your garden, so come out to Head-Lee Nursery and see their wide array of offerings.

By Guest Author Randy Peele

As has always been the case with my garden writings, I would like very much for all of you to interact with me in “Digging Deeper.”  Recommended topics, critiques, opinions, questions, etc. all are encouraged and welcomed, and I look forward to hearing from you by e-mail at email@headleenursery.com