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Gardening with Evelyn: Low-water landscape doesn’t have to mean low in color

Tired of drought-tolerant plantings that are boring? Confused about what to plant, how to plant and how to add some blooming variety to the grasses, grays and succulent sameness? You are not alone.

We all try to navigate our way through the confusing mandates and news stories. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of sensible perspective. Low water doesn’t have to be low color. Moderate, two-times-a-month wise watering is a goal we all can meet. Choosing a few plants that bloom and take moderate water will give you the best of both worlds.

Meet some interesting possibilities. These plants will give you months of blooming color and won’t break the water budget.

• Image. New! Meet Crowea Perry’s Hybrid. You probably have never met this charming, almost ever-blooming beauty. You are going to love this Australian native that makes a small shrub or attractive container plant. The pink flowers keep blooming down along the stem as it grows. Like its Aussie cousin, Scaevola, this means no messy flower drop along with constant new blooms. Twice a month, moderate water after it is established. In our mild winters, Crowea should bloom all year and belongs in your garden. It does not like to dry out totally. Only succulents can do this.

• Amazing euphorbias. How many plants are there in the Euphorbia genus? About 2,000! Wow! From poinsettias to the delicate but robust filler plant Diamond Frost, there is a group of euphorbias that will add color and interest to your water-wise plantscape.

There are many to choose from. Some have striking foliage and unique bract-like flowers in chartreuse or yellow. The deer and rabbits won’t eat them, and you should not either, because they are toxic and the sap can be irritating.

Coming soon is an even nicer one called Euphorbia Ascot Rainbow. The cooler winter turns the cream- and green-striped foliage into a rainbow of reds. E. ‘Ascot Rainbow’ was winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2010 Plantarium show. It’s sure to be a winner in your low-water plantscape too.

• Aloes have really weird tough foliage, but they also have really attention-getting spikes of color that last. Cynthia Gitti is one of the longest-flowering aloes, with up to sixmonths of colorful orange/salmon spikes. Clump several together with a big no-water boulder.

(Fun hint! No-water boulders are guaranteed to be pest-free, no-care and no-water additions to your garden. Remember to buy only “No water” boulders. Do not accept cheap substitutes.)

• Lavenders with their striking blue blooms and wonderful scent are one of the best ways to add color and fragrance to your garden. Enjoy them in bloom, and cut the foliage and flowers for indoor fragrance.

• Everyone knows Lantanas. They are everywhere and successful because they bloom almost all year, are low-water and super-easy. Yellow, orange-red mix and white are ready now. Plant them as accents with your other low-water lovers. Prune them hard occasionally and wait for the butterflies to come.

When you come to Weidner’s, look for the “Learn More” box in the Low Water section. There you will find even more help in choosing just the right plants and just the right color to keep your garden from being boring.


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