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Garden Designers Roundtable: Underused Plants

by Andrew Keys on July 27, 2010

Hey. I’m Leucothoë. Recognize me? Maybe? I know I’ve seen you around, but I’m not sure if you noticed me. Anyway, um… I wanted to… Introduce myself? I’m not so good at these things. But here goes:

Meet Lew!

Occupation: Shrub (Moonlight as groundcover)
Height and spread: Variable
Color: Depends
Hardiness: Zones 5-9
Status: Evergreen
In search of: Long-term relationship
[Click photos to enlarge]

Just chillin'

About me: I’m such an easygoing shrub. So easygoing, as a matter of fact, I’ll even be a groundcover. I’m an evergreen, even in cold places, so you know if you plant me, I’m going stick around, even on those cold days.

I’m not wild about sun—I do love shade—but I’m good with a half day, especially up north, especially in the morning. I’m not picky about soil either (as long as it’s not TOO dry).

Black and White Rainbow!

In my everyday, I put on a very respectable green. I find I like to wear purple in winter. If it’s a special occasion, I might go with red. From time to time, I think it’s good to cut loose, and you might even see me in rainbow.

At the Boston Flower Show

Hmm… Hobbies… I guess I’d say my favorite thing to do is to sit on the ol’ stream bank and just watch the world go by. (See? Easygoing.) You might find me just kickin’ it bankside in New York, or Florida, or even up in the mountains in California, but I like garden ponds too, and beaches, as long as I don’t get too much sun. And trees! I like trees too. Don’t even mind the roots. Good place to spread out, under a tree, even if it’s a little dry. When I’m in the garden, I like to hang out with other shrubs, in foundation groups, sometimes formal, sometimes not. Sometimes in perennial borders too, where I’ll even hang around in the wintertime when things are more quiet. I’m pretty at home in any old place.

By a Pagoda

OK, so I get a little tip burn in when it’s REAL cold out, but who doesn’t? And, OK, maybe I don’t look my best in nursery pots, but they’re small, and I do need my space just a little. Just a little! I’ll be the first to admit, too, that I don’t transplant the best if you dig me up and move me, but still, I have so much to offer to the right person. Things might be a little quiet and awkward at first, but if you give me a chance, you’ll see I am one classy shrub. I just need a little time to get settled in.

As a Hedge

What I don’t get is why all the ladies go for the boxwoods, or the hollies, the yews, or all those other evergreens. ‘Cause they make good hedges? I can be a hedge too, but I don’t go in for all that maintenance. Who has time to shear these days? I look best with a five o’clock shadow. Those plants might look more money, but I look more exotic any day of the week. I’m a shrub’s shrub. And hey, if you can’t say my name, no problem. Don’t trouble yourself with the double dots, or the Agarista, or the Eubotrys. You can just call me Lew.

How about a list of Leucothoë you want to add to your garden?

And be sure to check out posts on other underused plants from my fellow Roundtablers!

Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL »
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA »
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN »
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO »
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK »
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX »
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA »
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ »
Tara Dillard : Vanishing Threshold: Garden Life Home : Atlanta, GA »

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