From Louis the Plant Geek
'Berrima Gold' Incense Cedar
Conifers with gold foliage aren't unusual. Indeed, some are horrifyingly popular. Even so, Berrima Gold incense cedar deserves a place in any garden where it's hardy. Indeed, I think of it as a category killer: Start with Berrima Gold and, maybe, finish right there.
The bright gold young foliage is just the first reason. Its coppery tones in winter, the tree's copper bark all year, and—perhaps most unusual of all—the near-white mature foliage make Berrima Gold indelibly exciting.
Pollarding the Chinese Tulip Trees
Three pollarded Chinese tulip trees front a block of ten-foot-high yew hedge. Chinese tulip trees? Leaves of this Asian tulip-tree cousin are gigantic—and burgundy when young. Pollarded? Cutting young stems back to their stubs stimulates regrowth that is particularly eager and colorful, while also keeping it at eye level.
Colorful? May to September, you'll see. Eager? These straight-up stems are last year's growth, and some of them are over seven feet long.
February Daphne Explores the Garden
So-called "February" daphne really is in bloom that month if you encounter it in Seattle or London. Here in New England, February is still too cold for the flowers themselves—but not for their green calyces.
In the strange way of these shrubs, my original February daphne thrived for years before dying for no apparent reason. But I still have the species in my garden: These are stems of one of the self-seeded volunteers.
Dwarf Sea Buckthorn
Ah, trough gardens in summer! Here's one that I've planted exclusively with plants that demand lean, dry soil. Think sand with a side of gravel.Prickly pear cactus was a natural, as were the creeping yellow-leaved sedum and (look closely) the broom at the left.
But what about the silver-leaved shrub at the center? It's the unique dwarf cultivar of sea buckthorn. The species is often a rangy monster, but this cultivar may never top two feet. Did I mention that it's hardy to Zone 3? That's Nome, Alaska.
Golden European Ash, Garden to Brushpile to Vase
With yolk-yellow bark and ebony-black bud scales, young stems of golden ash are stunning. Even more stems? An even better show. So I cut off the oldest stems to encourage plenty of new ones, and also to keep the tree as compact as a shrub. Then, everything is more-or-less at eye level.
A bigger-than-usual pruning meant a pile of older stems on the brushpile—with all their gorgeous younger stems still attached. Why leave that colorful show behind? In ten minutes, I harvested the youngsters as a hostess gift for a dinner party.