Forget the crowded malls and head to your local garden center for that perfect gift for everyone on your list. And while you’re there consider what you’d like Santa to leave in your stocking this year!
Something Naughty (but nice)
Meet Scallywag. This mischievous little holly has the darkest green foliage – some might say it takes on rich burgundy tones in winter but mine is almost black. The spiky leaves may scratch a bit (the naughty factor) but it has plenty of ‘nice’ attributes too. Scallywag stays compact and has a tidy upright habit making it an attractive candidate for containers when small (see our example here) or as a foundation plant since it matures slowly to approx 4′ tall. The fact that it is deer resistant makes it far nicer than naughty in my book. Hardy in zones 5-9.
Forget Victoria’s Secret – look for this sexy little number; Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria). I know the name isn’t very sexy – maybe try it with an Italian accent???
Like silver velvet this sensuous foliage will have you unabashedly stroking the sexy leaves and dreaming of…… well we’ll leave that to your imagination! The good news is that this evergreen perennial (or tender perennial in colder areas) is cheaper than a pair of silk stockings and will last much longer.
Vital statistics; 12-18″ tall, lacy or less risque cultivars available, sun or part shade, Hardy in zones 8-10 but can also do well in protected areas in zone 7.
What says glamour to you? To me, it means a great shape and vibrant color that catches the eye yet isn’t too ‘Las Vegas’. So let me give you a preview of a stunning addition to the gardening world which will debut on the foliage fashion runway in spring 2014 – Persian Spire Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica ‘Persian Spire’).
This columnar tree has it all – attractive foliage, spidery red winter flowers, and a slender silhouette. In spring the leaves emerge with a purple cast and as they mature the purple margin remains while the inner leaf turns green. Fall is when it really gets the glamour going, however, as the foliage takes on shades of orange, red, gold, and purple the display lasts for many weeks.
Once seen, never forgotten. Worth the IOU from Santa!
To 25′ x 10′ but I’m enjoying my young tree in a container. Hardy to zones 5
Like a little bling in your leaves? Then we think you’ll like the metallic, shimmery leaves of silverbush (Convolvulus cneorum), sometimes also known as bush morning glory. Use this to add a little pizzazz to a skirt of black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) for a year-round fashion statement in a partially sunny area or deep burgundy sedum in the hot sun (e.g. Red Dragon sedum).
This little dazzler is a Mediterranean native so is drought tolerant and reliably hardy in zones 8-10 (although I also had success with it in Zone 7). It needs very well-drained soil and does best in full sun although again mine was gorgeous in the partial sun only.
Well if the sexy little number I suggested above didn’t quite do it for you perhaps you need something a little more see-through? What about a Himalayan maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustem)? Delicate layers of soft green, lacy leaves are held high on slender black stems. Far from being summer attire, only this provocative (ground)hugger will delight you year-round.