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Garden Designers Roundtable: Top Landscape Plants

by Andrew Keys on April 26, 2011

Hint: my top landscape plant is not a daylily. Or IS it?

If you know this blog, you know I LOVE plants. So when it was decided one of our GDRT topics this year would be top landscape plants, I thought, “Oh boy.” It would be very, very difficult for me to tell you what my top plant picks for the landscape are for a few reasons:

1. I love them all.
2. My favorites change from day to day.
3. Most importantly, it depends on the site. What’s the context? What’s the soil like? How’s the light? And so on, and so on, ad infinitum.

But. BUT! What I can and will share with you is the common threads when it comes to just about everything I plant. That is, I plant low-water plants wherever possible.

Folks, if there is one gardening thing that rankles me more than any other, it is watering plants. I usually have an anecdote to draw on when it comes to beliefs I garden by, but I’ve never lived in a place where water was TRULY scarce, so I can’t tell you where my rabid aversion to watering comes from. But interestingly, even though I don’t live in a dry climate, my little Mass. town must restrict outside watering every summer because we get ALL of our water from a river that’s running very low. What’s more important, water to drink and a rich, riparian ecosystem, or your lawn and garden? No garden — and I mean no garden, not yours or mine — is that important.

I will water a plant just until it’s established — and only just, because I want it to adapt to less watering — and beyond that, if it consistently needs water, I relocate it to a shadier site and/or one where the soil isn’t so dry. I make occasional exceptions in times like last year’s drought, but even then I only do damage control, mostly with a watering can filled at the rain barrel. (Yep, a watering can.)

Enough soapboxing. You came here for pictures! There are so many great low-water plants for the Northeast, and since we are more temperate than other parts of the country, some are droughty for us that may not be elsewhere. Below are just a few. Meanwhile, be sure to check out my fellow Roundtablers’ top plant picks, along with our special guest poster Nan Ondra!

Nan Ondra : Hayefield : Bucks County, PA
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA
Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Laura Livengood Schaub : Interleafings : San Jose, CA
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA
Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

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