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Garden with a Winner!™

Magnolia liliflora ‘Betty’ (Betty Magnolia)

Little ‘Betty’ here is a force to be reckoned with. Though petite in stature her blooms alone cannot be ignored. The large, reddish-purple blooms with white insides arrive 2-4 weeks later than your average magnolia, preventing her chances of frost damage. She blooms in May and will continue to bloom periodically into the fall months blessing you with her delightful scent. Though she can grow 3.5-4.5 m (11-15 ft) tall and 2.5-3.5 m (8-11 ft) wide she is considered compact in comparison to other magnolia varieties. Her lush, dark green foliage in the summer months turns a copper bronze in the fall.

Betty’s success rate will increase if she is planted in a zone 5, full sun/part shade location. Though she is sweet she prefers acidic soil that is well drained, yet moist. She is a versatile species that can be used as an accent, in mass plantings, as a hedge or even as a cut flower. She is an ideal candidate for a smaller space or in a patio pot. She takes a couple of years to establish herself but is totally worth waiting for. This gal is a true disease resistant charmer.

Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ (Japanese Garden Juniper)

Unlike my Nana, this ‘Nana’ is a groundcover juniper that forms a compact, dense mat with spreading branches. The blue green foliage reaches minimal heights of 20-30 cm (7-12 in) and an impressive spread of 1.5-2 m (5-6 ft)- keep in mind it could take up to 10 years for it to reach its full growth potential. This variety of Japanese Garden Juniper is a zone 3 that enjoys basking in full sun. Needless to say, it is not native to North America but still has a high success rate of surviving in its climates and various environments.

Though a groundcover, the Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ has a plethora of garden uses and adds a number of quality characteristics to a garden space. Use it in rock gardens, on slopes, for mass plantings, to flow over retaining walls, or along foundations. It is a very tolerant and resilient species and can put up with rocky soil, deer, disease, drought, shallow soil and air pollution. It does not take well to wet soil or pruning. Be selective if there is a need to cut it back and trim branches just above a healthy side branch. A juniper may never recover from a bad haircut.

Plant your ‘Nana’ in a sunny, well drained area and appreciate her evergreen needles all year round.

Forsythia ovata ‘Northern Gold’ (Northern Gold Forsythia)

A true sign of spring shines in the blooms of the Northern Gold Forsythia. This is an upright, spreading shrub with large golden yellow blooms showing up in early April. The blooms absolutely cover the branches and arrive before the bright green foliage appears. A variety like this can grow up to 1.5-2.5 m (4-8 ft) tall and 1.5-2 m (4-6 ft) round. The Forsythia ovata ‘Northern Gold’ is a zone 3 and the hardiest of its kind. A figure like this is easy to maintain as a well-rounded form is welcome.

Find a nice sunny spot with a little room to spare to plant the ‘Northern Gold’ and your good to go. It can be used in mass plantings, for hedges, or an early spring stunner in your garden. Many people use them as a cut flower to bring the outdoors in for the unpredictable spring temperatures and long wet days spent indoors. This plant is tolerant of many soil types, urban pollution, moist or dry conditions and is generally a low maintenance variety. To maximize its blooming potential prune it shortly after it flowers to prepare it for the next spring. Treat it right and you will be enjoying it for years to come.

Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata’ Clipped Coned Yew

If you need a yew you should surely consider the Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata’ Clipped Coned Yew and it’s pyramidal, conical growth habits. Dark green foliage grows nearly vertical with branches ascending upward to heights of 2-3 m (6.5-10 ft) with a waist line of 1.5-2.5 m (5-8 ft). It is a trimmable variety of yew with dark green foliage and light green new growth highlights. Red berries attract birds but the rest of us need to keep our distance as urgent medical attention may be required if ingested. This zone 4 yew enjoys the sun but can handle the shade, is versatile, hardy and low maintenance.

Though versatile in the landscape the ‘Capitata’ is particular about one thing- its soil, it will not tolerate much moisture. As long as the soil is well drained you can use this plant for hedges, group plantings, screens, or foundation plantings. If used as a stand-alone in an exposed area it is suggested to burlap it for the colder months of the year. Over all it is a real crowd pleaser all year round with evergreen needles and red decorative berries.

Clip this Coned Yew until your hearts content, test your pruning capabilities as this yew will regrow on old wood and can be rejuvenated.

Viburnum burkwoodii (Burkwood Viburnum)

Looking for an early spring bloomer? Search no more. The Burkwood Viburnum offers a sweetly spiced, aromatic bloom that starts off as a deep pink bud and opens into white. This dense, multi-branched shrub displays glossy dark green leaves that turn maroon in fall. This viburnum has visual appeal for a good chunk of the year: long blooming flowers starting in April, berries that attract birds and butterflies in July-August, and unique coloured foliage in the fall. The Burkwood can grow 2.4-3 m (8-10 ft) tall, 1.5-2 m (5-7 ft) wide and has fairly large, flat topped blooms that are about 5-10 cm (2-4 in). Now that the search is over, you have found a true garden sensation, keep in mind these other bonus features- the plant is frost resistant and low maintenance.

Finding a good location to plant your shrub is as important for this viburnum as it is for many other plants. It is a zone 4-8 survivor that appreciates full sun but can handle bits of shade. The soil can stay somewhat moist but needs to be able to stay well drained. As the Burkwood matures it gains some drought tolerance, yet another great bonus feature. Planting locations include courtyard gardens, city spaces, wall side borders, hedges, flower beds or as a standalone. For cross pollination though they should be paired up for the fruit to produce yearly. You are welcome to go the opposite route as well and prune the finished blooms immediately to eliminate the chance of fruit appearing. A rather trouble-free shrub so plant one, sit back and take in all it has to offer.

Leave the berries for the birds.

They are not meant for human consumption.