Garden Designers' Roundtable: Go-to plants!

Best plants. Favorite plants. Go-to plants.  This month's edition of the Garden Designers' Roundtable is all about the plants!  Be sure to visit our web site for a wonderful introduction to this topic and the links to today's participants.

Most landscape designers keep a mental Rolodex of plants on call for specific sites and uses.  This file is constantly being updated and edited as new plants are introduced to the market and others fall out of favor. However, there are some plants that I know I can depend on; they are hardy, relatively trouble free, and have multiple growth (cultural) or decorative qualities to recommend them.  So, without further ado, here is my list of go-to plants:

Deciduous Trees                                         

Hackberry, Celtis occidentalis                          
Kentucky Coffeetree, Gymnocladus dioicus                          
Oak, Quercus sp.                                                      
Honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos
Japanese Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata
Serviceberry, Amelanchier sp.*
Hawthorn, Crataegus sp.*

Deciduous Shrubs

Gro-Low Sumac, Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’
Apache Plume, Fallugia paradoxa

Western Sand Cherry, Prunus besseyi var.Pawnee Buttes’
Fernbush, Chamaebatiara millefolium
New Mexico Privet, Forestiera neomexicana
Blue Mist Spirea, Caryopteris incana

Barberry, Berberis sp. *
Lilac, Syringa patula sp.
Butterfly Bush, Buddleia davidii
Beautybush, Kolkwitzia amabilis
Golden Currant, Ribes aureum
Spirea, Spiraea sp. *
Cameo Quince, Chaenomeles japonica ‘Cameo’ *
Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster sp. *
Viburnum, Viburnum sp.*
Ninebark, Physocarpus sp.*
Annabelle Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ *

Evergreen Trees

Pinon Pine, Pinus cembroides var. edulis
Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa
Vanderwolf’s Limber Pine, Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’

Evergreen Shrubs

Oregon Grape Holly, Mahonia sp.
Euonymus sp. *
Hardy manzanita, Arctostaphylos x coloradensis
Hillside Creeper Pine, Pinus sylvestris ‘Hillside Creeper’*
Yucca sp.

Big Tuna Mugo Pine, Pinus mugo ‘Big Tuna’

Perennial Flowers, Grasses and Groundcovers

Whirling Butterflies, Gaura lindheimeri
Powis Castle Sage, Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’*
Moonshine Yarrow, Achillea ‘Moonshine’
Creeping Speedwell, Veronica sp.
Giant Silver Mullen, Verbascum bombiciferum

Autumn Joy Sedum, Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’
Sunset Hyssop, Agastache rupestris

 Variegated Iris, Iris pallida
Orange Carpet Hummingbird Flower, Zauschneria garrettii
English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides*

Penstemon sp.
Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber
Missouri Evening Primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa
Globethistle, Echinops ritro

Zagreb Coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’
Sunrose, Helianthemum nummularium
Paeonia sp. *
Geranium sp. *

False Indigo, Baptisia australis
Russian Sage, Perovskia artiplicifolia
Candytuft, Iberis sempervirens 

Little Bluestem Grass, Schizachyrium scoparium

Blue Avena Grass, Helictotricon sempervirons
Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis *
Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum  *

* These plants (or related species) will need moderately moist conditions.

This list may seem short - considering the many hundreds of plants that grow well in our area - so think of it as a super-deluxe "top 10" list! You will notice that most of my go-to plants are tried and true main stays of the mid-west, inter-mountain west, and upland southwest regions of the US.  Hence, the name: "go-to" plants!  The bulk of any landscape or garden should consist of well adapted, low maintenance plants and this list is a great place to start. (Read this post to learn about a few oddball plants to throw into the mix.)

Please visit these participating members of the Garden Designer's Roundtable for planting inspiration for your region and beyond... 

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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